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2009年6月30日 (火)

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2009年6月29日 (月)

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日韓首脳会談 忍耐強く「北」に圧力をかけよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 29, 2009)
United front needed in confronting N. Korea
日韓首脳会談 忍耐強く「北」に圧力をかけよ(6月29日付・読売社説)

As long as North Korea does not change its provocative attitude, it is important for the international community to patiently continue to put pressure on the country.
 北朝鮮が挑戦的な姿勢を改めない以上、国際社会は忍耐強く圧力をかけ続けることが肝要だ。

During a summit meeting in Tokyo on Sunday, Prime Minister Taro Aso and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak reaffirmed that "Pyongyang's nuclear development poses a serious threat and is not acceptable." They also agreed on the importance of bilateral cooperation, as well as working with the United States, in dealing with North Korea, aiming for the "faithful implementation" of a U.N. Security Council resolution on sanctions against North Korea.
 麻生首相と李明博韓国大統領は28日の会談で、北朝鮮の核開発は「重大な脅威で容認できない」(麻生首相)と改めて確認した。日米韓が連携し、国連安全保障理事会の制裁決議の「忠実な履行」(李大統領)を目指すことでも一致した。

After North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2006, the United States lifted its own financial sanctions against North Korea to get the country back to the six-party talks. In addition, the United States continued to take a soft approach by supplying heavy oil and removing the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
 3年前の核実験後、北朝鮮を6か国協議に復帰させるため、米国は独自の金融制裁を解除した。さらに、重油支援やテロ支援国指定の解除とアメを与え続けた。

However, the process of verifying that Pyongyang's declared nuclear programs had been halted and all its existing nuclear facilities had been disabled was left unfinished.
 しかし、北朝鮮の核計画の申告や核施設の無能力化作業は中途半端で、検証も実現しなかった。

The same mistakes should not be repeated. It is natural not to reward North Korea for returning to the six-party talks and it is indispensable to impose harsh punishment on reckless deeds that ignored the warnings of the international community.
 今回は、その轍(てつ)を踏んではなるまい。協議への復帰に見返りを与えないのは当然であり、国際社会の警告を無視した暴挙には厳罰で臨むことが不可欠だ。

===

China's role vital

The success of the U.N. Security Council resolution on sanctions against North Korea, including cargo inspections, depends on how China deals with North Korea because Beijing has a large influence on Pyongyang through trade and food and energy assistance.
 貨物検査など国連決議の履行の成否は、貿易や食糧・エネルギー支援を通じて北朝鮮に影響力を持つ中国の対応にかかっている。

China also clearly said that it will not allow possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea. Strengthening military deterrence among Japan, South Korea and the United States to counter Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threats is not desirable for China.
 中国も、北朝鮮の核保有を認めないと明言している。北朝鮮の核とミサイルに対抗するため、日米韓が軍事的抑止力を高める構図は中国に望ましいものではない。

It is extremely important to continue to urge China to make a "responsible response" to North Korea, including putting pressure on the country.
 中国に対し、北朝鮮への圧力を含む「責任ある対応」を促し続けることが極めて重要となる。

Many observers pointed out that the aim of Pyongyang's missile launches and nuclear tests is not to just strengthen its bargaining chip against the United States, but also are tied to the domestic situation and the need to solidify the regime of the successor to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
 北朝鮮のミサイル発射や核実験の狙いが、単なる対米交渉カードの強化ではなく、金正日総書記の後継体制を固めるという国内事情にある、との見方が多い。

If this is true, it is possible North Korea could turn a deaf ear to warnings by relevant countries and dare to launch longer-range missiles. The international community needs to prepare for a long war.
 事実なら、北朝鮮が今後も、関係国の働きかけに耳を貸さず、より長射程のミサイル発射などに走る可能性が否定できない。国際社会は長期戦の覚悟が必要だ。

===

Deeper discussions

Meanwhile, it is important to discuss a new type of consultation in preparation for a future return of North Korea to the six-party talks. If the talks continue as five-party talks without North Korea, as proposed by Lee, such an occasion would be a good opportunity to deepen the discussion for that purpose.
 一方で、北朝鮮がいずれ対話に戻る時に備えて、新たな協議のあり方を検討しておくことが大切だ。李大統領の提唱する日米中韓露の5か国協議が実現すれば、その議論を深める機会となろう。

The framework of the six-party talks itself is reasonable and it should be maintained in terms of the role it affords Japan in handling issues related to North Korea. Furthermore, participating countries should rack their brains for measures to apply the brakes to any future nuclear test by Pyongyang and ways to lead North Korea toward nuclear disarmament .
 5か国と北朝鮮による6か国協議の枠組み自体は合理的であり、日本の発言権を確保する観点からも維持したい。さらに、北朝鮮に二度と核実験を行わせないための歯止め措置や、核廃棄に誘導する方法論に知恵を絞るべきだ。

In Sunday's summit meeting, Aso and Lee also agreed to promote cooperation on assistance for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and on antipiracy efforts off Somalia.
 首脳会談では、アフガニスタン・パキスタン支援やソマリア沖の海賊対策について、日韓協力を推進することでも合意した。

Since the start of Lee's administration in February 2008, the bilateral relationship between Japan and South Korea has strengthened in a wide range of fields. We hope that the two countries will establish a stronger relationship of trust by achieving tangible results.
 昨年2月の李政権発足以来、日韓関係は幅広い分野で強化されてきた。具体的な実績を上げ、より強固な信頼関係を築きたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 29, 2009)
(2009年6月29日01時43分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月28日 (日)

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平成農地改革 農業再生の第一歩となれば

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 28, 2009)
Farmland reform aims to revitalize agriculture
平成農地改革 農業再生の第一歩となれば(6月28日付・読売社説)

The idea of arresting the decline of agriculture by shifting the focus of the farmland system from ownership to effective use informs the revised Agricultural Land Law, which recently passed the Diet.
 農地制度の軸足を「所有」から「利用」に移して農業の衰退に歯止めをかける。こんな狙いを込めた改正農地法が、国会で成立した。

This is a major revision in that the owner-cultivator system maintained since the postwar farmland reform, which gave ownership of farmland to those who cultivate it, was overhauled. The revised law allows letting and leasing of farmland in principle and has eased regulations on the entry of corporate entities into agribusinesses.
 農地解放以来の「農地は耕作者のもの」とする「自作農主義」を見直す大改正だ。農地の貸借を原則自由とし、企業の農業への参入規制も緩和する。

The biggest problems that the nation's agriculture industry faces are a dearth of farmers and low productivity. It is an urgent task to promote the entry of corporations into the agribusiness sector as a major player in the industry and improve efficiency. The enactment of the revised law should serve as the first step toward revitalizing the nation's agricultural sector, and the so-called Heisei-era farmland reform should be carried out as soon as possible.
 日本の農業の最大の課題は、担い手不足と低い生産性にある。企業の農業参入を促して新たな担い手とし、効率化を進めることが急務だ。改正農地法の成立を農業再生の第一歩とし、「平成の農地改革」の実現を急ぐべきだ。

===

Fears over rise in land misuse

Farmland that companies may lease had been limited mainly to abandoned land. But under the new system, companies may also lease prime land. Tenure, which had been limited to 20 years, has been extended to 50 years.
 企業が借りられる農地はこれまで耕作放棄地などに限られていたが、今後は優良農地も借りられるようになる。最長20年だった貸借期間も50年に延長された。

At the same time, consolidation of farmland for lease is expected to be promoted. Regardless of who is the lessee, the government will provide subsidies to farmers who let their land. Municipal governments and agricultural cooperatives will systematically provide information on farmland available for lease to prospective lessees.
 同時に、貸し出す農地の集約事業も進める。借り手を問わずに農地を貸し出す農家に国が交付金を出し、市町村や農協が農地をまとめて借り手に紹介する。

It will be easier to improve efficiency with the use of agricultural machinery if farmland is consolidated. It also is expected that abandoned farmland, which totals about 400,000 hectares nationwide, will be reduced by letting it in combination with prime farmland.
 まとまった農地なら、機械化による効率経営を進めやすい。他の農地と「まとめ貸し」をすることで、全国に約40万ヘクタールある耕作放棄地を減らす効果も期待できる。

But there still is much work to do to ensure that farmland is used more efficiently.
 ただ、農地の有効利用には、なお残された課題も多い。

There are concerns that the law revision may lead to an increase in the number of cases in which borrowed land is illegally diverted for such purposes as parking lots and garbage dumps.
 心配なのは、借りた農地を駐車場やごみ捨て場などに不正転用するケースが増えることだ。

In 2008 alone, farmland with an area equivalent to 121 Tokyo Domes was illegally diverted for other purposes. In 90 percent of such cases, local governments reportedly rubber-stamped the misuse of the land in question, thus benefiting those acting illegally.
 2008年だけで、東京ドーム121個分の農地が不正に転用されている。その9割は自治体が不正転用を追認しており、「やり得」というのが実態だ。

Under the revised law, the upper limit of fines imposed on companies that illicitly use farmland for purposes other than farming has been raised from the previous 3 million yen to 100 million yen. But this toughened penalty will have only a limited effect.
 改正法では不正転用した企業に科す罰金の上限を300万円から1億円に引き上げたが、罰則の強化だけでは限界がある。

===

Watchdogs must stay alert

Municipal governments' agricultural committees are in charge of checking whether farmland is being used illegally. But it is indispensable to drastically review the function of these committees. It is said that registries containing such information as the size of farmland and its ownership are not updated in some cases. Concerned officials should first grasp the actual situation in the areas they administer and crack down on the illegal use of farmland.
 転用の監視役は市町村の農業委員会だが、その抜本的見直しが不可欠だ。農地面積や権利関係を記した基本台帳すら、過去の記録のまま放置されている例があるという。まず地域の実態を把握し、厳しく転用を取り締まるべきだ。

The increase in the maximum tenure period raises the risk that leased farmland will not be returned within the due period, or that it will be misused. If farmers, feeling concerned about such potential problems, become reluctant to let their land, the entry of companies into the agribusiness industry will not be facilitated. Companies will not be able to win trust from landowners if they withdraw from agribusinesses just because they failed to make a quick profit.
 貸借期間が長期化すれば、期限が来ても返されなかったり、改廃されたりする恐れが高まる。農家がこれを嫌って貸し出しを渋れば企業の参入は進まない。企業が目先の収益だけで撤退するようでも貸し手の信頼は得られない。

To ensure that the revised law does not end up pie in the sky, it is important for farmland letters and lessees to have mutual understanding. Pursuing efficiency and cost-effectiveness alone is unlikely to lead to the stable management of the agribusiness sector. Companies, as a vital player in the industry, must bear this in mind as they seek synergy with regional agriculture.
 改正法を絵に描いたモチに終わらせないためには、貸し手と借り手の相互理解が重要だ。効率化やコスト意識だけでは、安定した農業経営はできない。担い手の一人として、企業は地域農業との共生を忘れてはならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2009)
(2009年6月28日01時36分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月27日 (土)

物価大幅下落 デフレ退治に最善を尽くせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 27, 2009)
Take every step to fight deflation
物価大幅下落 デフレ退治に最善を尽くせ(6月27日付・読売社説)

Are we seeing the start of a vicious circle in which both the economy and prices decline simultaneously?
 景気と物価が同時に落ち込むデフレの悪循環が始まったのだろうか。

The nationwide consumer price index fell 1.1 percent in May, year on year, recording the largest drop since the end of World War II.
 5月の全国消費者物価は前年同月比1・1%低下して、戦後最大の下落率を更新した。

The previous biggest fall in the CPI was 1 percent, recorded in May 2001. At that time, the Bank of Japan was fighting deflation, using the quantitative easing policy for the first time.
 これまで最大の下落率は1・0%、記録したのは2001年5月だった。当時、日銀は初の量的金融緩和でデフレと戦っていた。

Prices have dropped more steeply than those at that time, and the pace of decline is expected to quicken.
その時より物価は下がり、今後さらに下落率は拡大が見込まれる。

In the summer of 2000, the central bank lifted its zero-interest-rate policy on the strength of its optimistic view on the outlook for the economy. The move aggravated deflation.
 2000年夏、日銀は景気の先行きを楽観してゼロ金利政策を解除し、デフレを悪化させた。

This time, one misstep could lead to deflationary spiral. Now that the economy has shown slight signs of recovery, every measure needs to be taken to fight deflation.
今回も一歩誤れば、連鎖が止まらぬ「デフレスパイラル」を招きかねない。景気に薄日が差す今こそ、デフレ退治に最善を尽くすべきだ。

The effects of falls in crude oil and grain prices, which skyrocketed last year, are huge. However, prices of items excluding gasoline and food are increasingly falling. Even disregarding these special factors, current circumstances will tend to push the economy further into deflation.
 前年に高騰した原油や穀物の価格が、一転して下がった影響は大きい。だが、ガソリンや食料を除いた物価も下げ幅の拡大が続いている。特殊要因を除いても、デフレ圧力は強いと見た方がいい。

===

Domestic demand anemic

One major factor is the slump in domestic demand, including consumption.
 主な原因は、消費をはじめとした内需の低迷である。

Department store sales have posted declines for 15 months in a row, and supermarket sales have fallen for six straight months.
 百貨店は15か月連続、スーパーも6か月連続で売上高が減った。

Many stores have cut the prices of items they sell and brought forward summer sales. This is because goods tend not to sell unless they are marked down. Department stores are struggling to sell clothing items, but low-price brand stores are doing good business.
夏のセールの前倒しなど、値下げの動きが広がるのは、安くしないと売れないからだ。百貨店で不振の衣料品も、低価格ブランドの専門店は売れ行き好調という。

With shrinking incomes due to corporate restructuring and cuts in overtime work, households are have been sharply reining in their spending. As a result, companies are engaged in price wars, leading to a decline in profits. This in turn translates into wage cuts.
 リストラや残業カットで収入が減り、家計は少しでも安い商品を選ぶようになる。その結果、企業は値下げ競争に走って利益が減り、さらなる賃下げを招く。

Curtailing spending is the right choice for individuals, but at the macroeconomic level, it prolongs a slump. In this regard, deflation is an intractable disease that robs an economy of dynamism.
 節約は個人の正しい選択だが、経済全体の停滞は長く深くなる。デフレは、経済の活力を奪う「難病」なのだ。

One major problem is the 45 trillion yen demand-supply shortfall. So that the effects of current economic measures can kick in, the government must come up with new policies seamlessly.
 問題は日本経済全体で45兆円の需要不足にある。景気対策の効果が息切れしないよう、切れ目ない政策対応が必要となる。

Measures that can boost demand--such as programs to fight unemployment, aid for medical and nursing care, and promotion of growing businesses, such as those in the environmental and energy-saving fields--must be given priority. Belt-tightening polices such as across-the-board cuts in social security spending are a no-no under deflation.
 失業対策や医療・介護現場への支援、環境・省エネなど成長産業の振興など、高い需要創出が見込める事業を優先したい。社会保障費の一律カットなど緊縮政策は、デフレ下では禁物である。

===

Quantitative easing needed

If pessimistic views that deflation will deepen prevail, the economic situation may drastically deteriorate.
 「デフレが深刻になる」という悲観論が広がると、事態が急激に悪化する恐れが出てくる。

To combat the financial crisis that started in autumn, the Bank of Japan has supplied a large amount of funds to the market by purchasing long-term government bonds and corporate bonds, and the market has calmed down.
 日銀は昨秋からの金融危機を沈静化させるため、長期国債や社債の買い入れで資金を大量供給し、市場は落ち着きを取り戻した。

The main battlefield of monetary policy likely will shift to deflation. The central bank would be advised to come up with comprehensive quantitative easing measures with numerical targets and pledge those measures will be maintained until prices start to rise.
 今後はデフレが金融政策の主戦場となろう。数値目標を掲げる全面的な量的緩和に踏み切り、物価がプラスになるまで続けると約束してはどうか。

The Bank of Japan needs to show its determination to fight against the malignancy of deflation.
 日銀は、悪性のデフレを防ぐ決意を示してほしい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2009)
(2009年6月27日01時28分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月26日 (金)

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官製談合 あきれ果てた国交省の体質

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 26, 2009)
Transport ministry needs to recheck its checks
官製談合 あきれ果てた国交省の体質(6月26日付・読売社説)

Another bid-rigging case involving officials at the Construction and Transport Ministry has bubbled to the surface. The ministry needs to seriously reflect on the preventive measures it has taken following previous scandals.
 またも国土交通省の官製談合が発覚した。これまでの再発防止策は、一体何だったのか。国交省は猛省すべきだ。

Suspecting that ministry officials were involved in bid-rigging practices related to official vehicle services for the ministry's Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau, the Fair Trade Commission issued the ministry with a remedial action under a law that forbids collusive bidding by government officials.
 公正取引委員会は、国交省の出先機関、北海道開発局が発注した公用車の運転・管理業務の談合に職員が関与していたとして、官製談合防止法に基づき、国交省に改善措置を求めた。

The FTC issued the order, citing a violation of the Antimonopoly Law, to stop bid-rigging practices by 10 companies that had won contracts for official vehicle services for the ministry's Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau and eight other regional bureaus, slapping the firms with a total of about 2.6 billion yen in penalties.
 北海道開発局と八つの地方整備局の公用車業務を受注した10社には、独占禁止法違反で排除措置命令を出し、計26億円の課徴金納付を命じた。

Former ministry officials who landed lucrative posts at these private companies are said to be involved in bid-rigging concerning contracts of the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau and five regional bureaus.
開発局と5地方整備局の発注分では、OBも再就職先で談合にかかわっていたという。

===

Flawed logic

Collusive bid-rigging practices by government officials have occurred repeatedly at the Construction and Transport Ministry. Not only is it the only ministry that has been ordered to take remedial action, it is also the second time it has been ordered to do so, the first coming after a bid-rigging scandal concerning floodgate construction projects in 2007.
 国交省では官製談合が繰り返されてきた。中央官庁で改善措置要求を受けたのは、国交省だけだ。しかも、2007年の水門設備工事談合に続き、2回目である。

In 2008, the then director general of the ministry's Hokkaido Bureau was arrested on suspicion of interfering with a public tender by preadjusting the prices on bids for improvement work on the Ishikarigawa river during his time as a department chief of the ministry's Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau. He was convicted on the charges.
 08年には、現職の北海道局長が北海道開発局の部長時代に談合に加担したとして競売入札妨害容疑で逮捕され、有罪が確定した。

Behind all of this lies the collusion and cozy ties of former bureaucrats who work for private companies after leaving the ministry. A pattern forms in which current ministry officials leak information on public biddings and award orders to companies at which their former superiors and colleagues now work.
 背景にあるのは、天下りしたOBとのなれ合い、癒着だ。現役職員が、かつての先輩や同僚が再就職した会社に入札情報を漏らし、受注させる構図である。

In this latest bid-rigging story, more than 50 former ministry officials took on jobs at the three companies that were awarded most of the orders.
 今回の談合で受注の多い3社には、一時、計50人を超すOBがいた。

The 2008 bid-rigging case involving the head of the ministry's Hokkaido Bureau was partly aimed at ensuring that bureaucrats would have lucrative jobs when they enter the private sector. However, the Sapporo District Court in its verdict criticized this as a selfish motive based on the institution's flawed logic.
北海道局長の事件でも職員の再就職先確保が一因だったが、札幌地裁判決は「組織の論理に基づく身勝手な動機」と批判した。

===

Outside oversight a good start

In response to the 2007 bid-rigging scandal concerning floodgate projects and the 2008 scandal of the Hokkaido Bureau chief, the Construction and Transport Ministry on both occasions compiled reports through committees that included outside experts examining the cases. The committees proposed reviews of bid contract methods and the nature of reemployment for retired ministry officials, as well as a strengthening of compliance.
 水門談合や北海道局長の事件を受けて、国交省はその都度、第三者を交えた対策検討委員会で報告書をまとめた。入札契約方式や再就職のあり方の見直し、法令順守の強化などを打ち出した。

The committee said in a report submitted at the end of April that the management of ministry staff, including any reemployment at private companies, should be handled in an integrated manner by the development administration department of the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau.
 4月末に出した報告書では、北海道開発局について、「再就職を含む職員管理は開発監理部で一元的に実施する」とした。

The report aims to prevent senior officials at each operating division, such as rivers and ports and harbors projects, from engaging in bid-rigging in an attempt to secure jobs in private companies after retirement.
河川や港湾など各事業部門の幹部が、職員の再就職先確保のため、談合に関与するのを防ぐ狙いだ。

However, in the bid-rigging related to ministerial vehicle services, it was the chief and deputy chief of the development administration department of the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau who relayed bidding information to former bureaucrats working at private companies.
 だが、公用車談合でOBの社長らに情報を漏らしていたのは、この開発監理部の部長や次長らだった。

The ministry again set up a committee to examine this case. However, there also needs to be a look into past preventive measures.
国交省は今回も対策検討委を設けているが、こうした過去の再発防止策も見直す必要がある。

Ensuring the efficacy of preventative measures is crucial. Just this month, the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau appointed an FTC official for the newly created post of bid contract inspector. This move--the hiring of an outside expert--is one of the ways to help ensure the strength of the inspection department.
 肝心なのは、対策の実効性をどう担保するかだ。北海道開発局は今月、新設の入札契約監察官に公取委職員を起用したが、外部の専門家を拡充するなど監察部門の強化もその一つだろう。

With the move to decentralize administrative power, the review of branch ministerial offices, including regional development bureaus, has become an important task. The current situation in which these matters lie beyond the reach of local assemblies and residents should be changed.
 地方分権改革で、地方整備局など国の出先機関の見直しは重要なテーマになっている。議会や住民の監視の目が届きにくい現状は、変えていかねばなるまい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 26, 2009)
(2009年6月26日01時59分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月25日 (木)

骨太の方針―負担先送りが招いた混迷

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 24(IHT/Asahi: June 25,2009)
EDITORIAL: End of era in fiscal policy
骨太の方針―負担先送りが招いた混迷

Fiscal policy has apparently reached the end of an era, one that was marked by renewed efforts to restore health in the nation's public finances based on annual guidelines known as Honebuto no Hoshin.
 財政健全化をめぐる格闘の歴史に刻まれる「骨太の時代」は終わった。そう見てよいのではないか。

The government on Tuesday decided on its latest Honebuto policy guidelines. They confirm that the principle of curbing growth in social security costs, a symbol of the spending reform initiative started by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and inherited by his successors, has become a dead letter.
 政府は経済財政運営の方向を示す「骨太の方針09」を決めた。小泉政権から引き継いできた歳出改革の象徴のひとつだった「社会保障費の抑制」は、与党の猛反発で空文化した。

The move reflects concerns within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that it will take a drubbing in the next Lower House election unless it promises to fix health and nursing care problems and other troubled welfare programs.
 医療や介護など福祉のほころびを直すには、社会保障費の抑制をこれ以上続けることはできず、迫り来る総選挙はとても戦えないという状況認識の反映といえるだろう。

The era of new fiscal responsibility symbolized by the annual policy guidelines began in 2001, the year the Cabinet led by Koizumi was sworn in. Until then, fiscal discipline was maintained by the Finance Ministry as it battled calls for more spending from the iron triangle of politicians, bureaucrats and businesses.
 「骨太の時代」は小泉内閣発足の01年に始まる。それまで財政規律は、政・官・業の「鉄の三角形」による歳出圧力を大蔵省(現財務省)が抑え込む形で維持されていた。

But the budget deficit swelled in the late 1990s because of a series of fiscal stimulus packages to revitalize the flagging economy. The annual policy guidelines by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy were designed to slam on the fiscal brakes.
だが、90年代後半の景気対策で財政赤字が急膨張。これを制御する新機軸が経済財政諮問会議での骨太の方針だった。

The Honebuto system allowed the prime minister's office to exert leadership in the development of budgets and to clean up state finances, primarily through spending cuts.
 官邸主導による予算編成と、歳出抑制を主な手段として財政再建を推進する舞台装置。

In addition, the Koizumi government took steps to reform the spending structure, for example, by cutting public works expenditures, in response to criticism by taxpayers about wasteful public spending. The Koizumi administration also went ahead with the privatization of public corporations operating toll roads and state-run postal services, espousing the importance of market principles and small government.
その上で、納税者の「無駄遣い」批判を背に、公共事業費の削減などによる歳出構造の改革を進めた。市場原理の重視や「小さな政府」の理念を武器に、道路公団や郵政事業の民営化も推進した。

But the government's fiscal policy ran into a brick wall. In its Honebuto blueprints for fiscal 2006, the Koizumi administration set five-year targets for spending cuts to impose fiscal discipline on successive governments.
 しかし財政運営はやがて壁にぶつかる。小泉内閣は「骨太06」で5年間の歳出削減・抑制目標を掲げ、後継政権を縛ろうとした。

While these fiscal targets led to budget savings, it meant the public was continually asked to endure the pain of decreasing welfare benefits. It became clear that there was a limit to Koizumi's approach to fiscal rehabilitation, which depended on spending cuts without a strategic focus and simply postponed any step to increase the tax burden on people.
節約に成果を上げた半面、福祉の抑制という「痛み」に耐えるよう国民に求め続けることになった。メリハリの乏しい歳出削減頼みで、負担増は先送りを決め込んだ手法の限界が示されたといっていい。

The current administration of Prime Minister Taro Aso has acknowledged that the nation's welfare system is in dire straits and pledged to raise the consumption tax rate after economic recovery to enhance social security programs. But Aso's first policy guidelines, announced in the run-up to the Lower House election, make no reference to the consumption tax issue.
 安倍、福田両政権は早晩、歳出構造をもっと大胆に見直すか、負担増への道を示す形で骨太の枠組みを革新する必要があったが、果たせなかった。ようやく麻生政権が福祉のほころびを認め、社会保障を強化するために景気回復後に消費税率を引き上げるという方針を掲げはしたが、総選挙を前にした「骨太」に「消費税」の文字はない。
 (世界経済危機という要因もあるにせよ、官邸の求心力、政権が何を目指すのかという方向づけの弱さが無残なまでに示された形だ。)

If main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) defeats the LDP in the election and wins a public mandate to govern, the Honebuto framework will be discarded. But Minshuto's vow to keep the consumption tax rate unchanged for four years and find 20 trillion yen in new money to finance its proposals mainly by eliminating administrative waste is reminiscent of Koizumi's pledge to avoid a hike in the consumption tax rate while he was in office. And Minshuto's policy vision is by no means clear.
 来る総選挙で民主党が勝てば骨太の枠組みは廃されよう。だが、「消費増税を4年間封印し、行政の無駄を省くなどして20兆円をひねり出す」という民主党の方針は「在任中は消費税を上げない」とした小泉路線を思い出させる。民主党が何を目指すのかも、決して明確とはいえない。

With the era of Koizumi's reforms now over, a major challenge confronting Japanese politics is to chart a new course for the nation.
 小泉改革の次に政治が目指すべき方向性を示すことができるか。これは日本政治全体の大テーマだ。

A prolonged period of political confusion and a leadership vacuum would trigger sell-offs of Japanese government bonds by investors worried about the nation's fiscal future.
 混迷や空白が続けば、財政の将来に不安を募らせた投資家が国債を売る。

That could usher in an era when rising long-term interest rates impose "market discipline" on politics.
長期金利が上昇し、「市場の規律」が政治を縛る時代が到来しかねない。

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迂回献金:先物会社が与謝野氏、渡辺喜氏に ダミー通じ

(Mainichi Japan) June 24, 2009
Financial bigwigs got donations through dummy group
迂回献金:先物会社が与謝野氏、渡辺喜氏に ダミー通じ

Japanese Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano and former financial services minister Yoshimi Watanabe received tens of millions of yen in donations from five companies up until 2005 through a dummy organization, the Mainichi has learned.
 与謝野馨財務・金融・経済財政担当相と渡辺喜美元行政改革担当相が総務省に後援団体として届け出ていた政治団体が、商品先物取引会社「オリエント貿易」(東京都新宿区)などグループ5社が企業献金をするためのダミー団体だったことが分かった。

Between 1992 and 2005, the five companies, including a futures trading company located in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, donated 55.3 million yen to Yosano through the dummy group. Watanabe received a total of 35.4 million yen through the group, which the politicians had reported to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications as a support group, between 1995 and 2005.
5社は団体を通じ92~05年、与謝野氏側に計5530万円、95~05年、渡辺氏側に計3540万円を迂回(うかい)献金していた。

Using a system that provides income tax deductions for donations to support groups, the five companies took about 40 million yen each year from the salaries of around 250 workers, including company executives, and made donations to the organization.
後援団体への寄付者には所得税の一部が控除される優遇制度があり、5社は毎年幹部社員ら約250人の給与から計約4000万円を天引きして団体に寄付させ、控除を受けさせていた。

 ◇後援団体として届け出、寄付社員の税控除
Yosano and Watanabe both served as minister in charge of financial services, and both were involved in regulatory issues in futures trading. It has emerged that by naming the organization as a support group they sustained illegal donations, and the close relationship between the politicians and the organization looks questionable.
 与謝野、渡辺両氏はいずれも金融担当相を務め、先物取引の規制問題にかかわった。後援団体指定が違法性の強い献金を支えていたことになり、両氏と団体との密接な関係が問われそうだ。

Political funding reports for the organization, Seikei Seisaku Kenkyu-kai (Politics, economics, and policy research association), which was founded in 1981, show that the head of the futures trading firm, Yukio Kato, served as representative of the organization, while the presidents of the other related companies served as accounting officers. Up until 2006, when Kato left the management, the group's office was located at the Tokyo branch of the futures trading firm.
 問題の政治団体は、81年に設立された「政経政策研究会」(政経会)。政治資金収支報告書などによると、オ社の加藤幸男社主が代表を、関連会社の社長らが会計責任者を務めている。加藤社主が経営から退く06年まで、団体事務所はオ社東京支社に置かれていた。

The source of the donations made from the Seikei Seisaku Kenkyu-kai to the politicians was money taken from the salaries of members of the five companies, including executives, and there are strong suspicions that the donations were corporate donations made using the organization as a dummy body, violating the Law to Regulate Money Used for Political Activities.
 政経会から政治家への献金は5社の幹部社員らの給与から天引きした寄付金が原資で、政経会をダミーにした企業献金だった疑いが強く、政治資金規正法(第三者名義の寄付・企業献金禁止)に違反するとみられる。

毎日新聞 2009年6月24日 3時05分(最終更新 6月24日 9時31分)

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公文書管理 法律はできたが課題も多い

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 25, 2009)
New archive law marks start of major change
公文書管理 法律はできたが課題も多い(6月25日付・読売社説)

The nation's national archive system, which has not performed as well as those of other countries, is set to fundamentally change.
 諸外国と比べ不備が目立つ公文書館制度が根本から改められる。

A law on management and preservation of official state documents was enacted Wednesday that sets out the procedures for drawing up and managing documents by administrative authorities as well as rules covering their transfer to the National Archives of Japan. The law is expected to come into effect in April 2011.
 行政にかかわる文書の作成、管理から国立公文書館への移管までの手続きを包括的に定めた公文書管理法が成立した。2011年4月から施行される見込みだ。

As a democratic nation, it is the government's responsibility to preserve documents detailing policy decision-making processes and to fulfill its responsibility to make such information available to the public.
 政策決定の過程を伝える文書を着実に保存し、国民に対し説明責任を果たすことは、民主主義国家として当然の責務である。

The law makes it clear that state documents are intellectual resources to be shared by all citizens to support the foundations of a healthy democracy. It also stipulates that people are allowed to proactively use such documents.
 公文書は「健全な民主主義の根幹を支える国民共有の知的資源」であり、「国民が主体的に利用し得るものである」ことが法律に明記された。

To meet the aims stated under the law, we must steadily work to better preserve and manage state documents.
 法の趣旨を踏まえ、公文書の保存・管理を着実に進めていかなければならない。

Ministries and agencies currently preserve administrative documents for at least one year and up to 30 years. In the final fiscal year of the preservation period, a decision on whether to discard the information, transfer it to the National Archives of Japan, or extend the preservation period have been determined at the initiative of the relevant ministry or agency.
 省庁が行政文書を保存する期間は1年から最長30年で、最終年度に、廃棄か、国立公文書館に移管か、保存期限を延長するかが各省庁の主導で決められてきた。

===

Logbooks, lists lost

National archives management has been so poor, however, that the logbooks of a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel were discarded before their preservation term had expired, and a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry document listing patients suspected of being infected with hepatitis C through tainted blood products was left in a storage area.
 管理体制もずさんで、海上自衛隊の航海日誌が保存期限前に破棄されたり、厚生労働省の薬害肝炎の症例リストが倉庫に放置されたりする問題もおきている。

The new law stipulates that the consent of the prime minister is needed before documents are discarded and that administrative documents, which are valuable as historical materials, will be transferred to the National Archives of Japan in almost all cases.
 新法では、廃棄には首相の同意が必要なことや、歴史資料として重要な行政文書は原則として国立公文書館に移管されることなどが定められた。

However, the law, which was proposed by the government, does not cover Diet and court documents.
 政府が提案したこの法律では、国会と裁判所の文書については対象外とされた。

===

Archives law must be debated

A report compiled by an expert government panel in November sought to promote the transfer of documents drawn up by the Diet and courts to the National Archives of Japan. For that purpose, the panel has proposed a reorganization of the body that oversees the archives, changing it from its current status as an independent administrative corporation to a special administrative corporation.
 昨年11月に政府の有識者会議がまとめた報告書は、国会と裁判所の文書の国立公文書館への移管を促進することを求めている。そのため、国立公文書館を現在の独立行政法人から「特別の法人」に改組するよう提言した。

The Diet resolution accompanying enactment of the law stated that an examination must be made of how the National Archives of Japan should be reformed. Thorough discussion of the issue is indeed needed to ensure the new plan quickly takes shape.
 こうした国立公文書館のあり方についての検討は、国会の付帯決議に盛り込まれた。議論を深め、具体化を急ぐ必要がある。

The expansion of the National Archives of Japan will be a big task. It has been pointed out that the capacity of the main building, located in Kitanomaru Garden in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, will be reached within a decade. The current number of staffers is merely 42 people, in contrast to the 2,500 employed in the United States and 800 in Germany.
 国立公文書館の拡充も大きな課題だ。東京・北の丸公園内にある本館は、10年以内に満杯になると指摘されている。職員数もわずか42人で、米国の2500人、ドイツの800人に遠く及ばない。

Archivists must be quickly trained. A change in the current mindset of officials at ministries and agencies toward preserving documents also should be promoted.
 文書管理の専門家の養成が急務だ。各省庁の職員の文書保存に対する意識改革も、併せて進めていくべきだろう。

With progress of IT, the number of electronic documents has greatly increased in recent years, making it necessary to draw up rules for the efficient management of electronic documents.
 IT化の進展で、近年は電子文書も増えている。効率的な電子文書の管理が出来るようルール作りも必要だろう。

Many tasks need to be tackled, but we must steadily promote the preservation of documents by taking a long-term view and seeing this project as one concerning the very basis of our nationhood.
 課題は山積しているが、国の根本にかかわる事業として、長期的な視野から、着実に推進していかなければならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2009)
(2009年6月25日01時33分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月24日 (水)

社説:コンビニ排除命令 大量廃棄も考え直そう

(Mainichi Japan) June 23, 2009
The 'convenience' of wasting 20 million tons of food a year
社説:コンビニ排除命令 大量廃棄も考え直そう

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. has been served a business improvement order from the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) for violating the Anti-Monopoly Law by preventing member stores from discounting food products. The commission judged that the company abused its superior position, and unfairly limited the discounted sale of products approaching their use-by dates, such as boxed lunches and rice balls.
 弁当などの値引きを加盟店に認めなかったコンビニ最大手のセブン-イレブン・ジャパンが、公正取引委員会から独占禁止法違反(不公正な取引方法)で排除措置命令を受けた。取引上の優越的な地位を乱用し、消費期限が近づいた弁当やおにぎりを値引きする「見切り販売」を不当に制限したとの判断だ。

In 2002, the JFTC banned restrictions on discounts based on its Anti-Monopoly Law in relation to franchise systems. Seven-Eleven had expressed the opinion that discounts didn't fit in with the model of convenience store operations, though it said it would leave the final decision up to member stores. However, the company asked stores to file reports or make inquiries with its headquarters when discounting products, and when they did the firm put pressure on them, such as hinting that it would cut off their contracts if they went ahead with discounts. Eventually, the stores had no option but to throw out unsold food, leading to the problem of large-scale food disposal.
 公取委は02年に「フランチャイズ・システムに関する独占禁止法上の考え方について」という指針で、値引きの制限を禁じた。このため、セブンも表向きは「値引きはコンビニになじまないが、最終的には加盟店が決めること」との考えを示してきた。しかし、実際は値引きする時に本部への報告や相談を求め、その際に契約の打ち切りをにおわせるなど圧力をかけてきた。結局、値引きできずに売れ残った弁当などは捨てるしかなく、食べ物の大量廃棄という問題も浮かび上がらせた。

While the Fair Trade Commission's recent order restricts freedom of management, it corrects the warped trading relationship that resulted in stores having to shoulder the cost price of products that they disposed of, on top of the disposal fee. This practice of making stores pay for discarded products has become customary practice throughout the industry, not just at Seven-Eleven. Now there is a possibility that the nation's convenience stores, numbering over 40,000, will start discounts similar to those in place at supermarkets and department stores. It is necessary to now take the opportunity to review the foundations of the business relationship that resulted in the headquarters getting all the profits.
 公取委の命令は、経営の自由を縛る一方で、売れ残り商品の原価や廃棄の費用を店側にすべて負担させるゆがんだ取引関係を正すものだ。セブンだけでなく業界の慣行になってきただけに、全国の4万店を超えるコンビニで今後、スーパーや百貨店と同じように値引き販売が広がるだろう。これを機に「もうかるのは本部ばかり」という取引関係を根本的に見直すことも必要になる。

Still, even if discounts are permitted, it's possible that the amount discarded will not significantly decrease. At some stores in the past, managers had bought items that were discounted to 1 yen, and included the items in their sales before discarding them -- a management improvement trick that allowed them to throw away the items for 1 yen rather than paying the cost price. It is feared that this practice will increase in the future. In Japan, nearly 20 million tons of food products are discarded each year -- more than three times the amount of world food aid. At convenience stores, the yearly amount is said to be in the range of 20 to 30 tons per store.
 ただ、値引きが許されても廃棄はそんなに減らないかもしれない。1円に値引きして店主が買い、売り上げに計上した後に捨てる「1円廃棄」が、経営改善の裏ワザとして一部で行われていたが、今後どんどん広がる心配がある。日本では世界の食糧援助量の3倍以上、年間2000万トン近い食品廃棄物が生み出されている。コンビニでは1店当たり年間20~30トンとも言われる。

An issue closely linked to the massive amount of waste is the "convenience" of convenience stores, whose shelves are always lined with an abundance of new products.
 大量の廃棄と裏表の関係にあるのは、いつでも新しい商品がたくさん並ぶコンビニの利便性だ。

"People's desire for us to supply new products 24 hours a day to match their lifestyle changes is resulting in waste," one worker in the industry said. This statement cannot be discarded simply as an excuse.
業界関係者は「ライフスタイルの変化に合わせ、24時間常に新しいものを提供してほしいというニーズが廃棄を生んでいる」と強調するが、ただの自己弁護と切り捨てられない。

Businesses that unfairly constrict member stores are a problem, but one cannot imagine that a type of operation that wastes food will last. Convenience stores are making efforts such as recycling products into fodder for livestock, but considering reports that the population of the world's hungry has surged past 1 billion for the first time, the stores can hardly thrust their chests out in pride.
 加盟店を不当に縛るビジネスは問題だが、食べ物を粗末にする業態も長続きするとは思えない。コンビニ各社は家畜の飼料へのリサイクルなどに取り組んでいるものの、世界の飢餓人口が初めて10億人を超えた厳しい現実を思えば胸を張れるようなことではない。

Of course companies have to rethink the system in which products are sent to stores several times a day to stimulate buying, but we may have also reached a time when consumers should review their thoughts that always having new products lined up on shelves is a welcome display of prosperity.
1日に何度も商品を店頭に送って購買意欲を刺激するようなシステムを各社が見直すのはもちろんだが、消費者も常に新しい商品がたくさん並んでいる光景が豊かでいいことなのだ、という考えを改める時に来ているだろう。

毎日新聞 2009年6月23日 0時08分

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セブンイレブン―捨てない仕組みをめざせ

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 23(IHT/Asahi: June 24,2009)
EDITORIAL: Seven-Eleven under fire
セブンイレブン―捨てない仕組みをめざせ

One of the main retail revolutions in the postwar era is the advent of the convenience store business, which has grown by leaps and bounds. The hugely successful business model has apparently reached a major turning point, however.
 戦後最大の流通革命のひとつに入るのが、コンビニエンスストアの普及だ。そのビジネスモデルが、大きな転換点を迎えた。

On Monday, the Fair Trade Commission ordered Seven-Eleven Japan Co., the operator of the nation's largest convenience store chain, to put an end to its unfair business practices. According to the antitrust watchdog, Seven-Eleven put pressure on franchisees to stop them cutting the prices of perishable food items like bento box lunches and onigiri rice balls when their expiration dates approach.
 公正取引委員会がコンビニ最大手のセブン―イレブン・ジャパンに対して排除措置命令を出した。売れ残りそうな弁当やおにぎりを値引き販売している加盟店のオーナーに、不当な圧力をかけて値引きを妨げたというのだ。

Under the Anti-Monopoly Law, the owners of stores belonging to a franchise chain like Seven-Eleven are entitled to determine the prices of individual products sold at their outlets. The FTC concluded that Seven-Eleven abused its dominant bargaining position to trample on the franchisees' right.
 独占禁止法上、セブンのようなフランチャイズ・チェーンでは、個々の商品の売値の決定権は店のオーナーにある。セブンは取引上の優越的な地位を笠に着て、オーナーの権利を踏みにじった、と公取委が断じたのだ。

Restricting discount sales at outlets has actually been common practice among major convenience store chains, including Seven-Eleven's main rivals. The FTC's action against the industry leader is likely to have a huge impact on the future of the sector.
 値引き制限は、セブン以外の大手コンビニでも当然とされてきた。今回の改善命令は、業界の今後のあり方に大きな影響を及ぼすだろう。

Behind Seven-Eleven's alleged antitrust violation is its business model in which products not sold at their marked prices are dumped. This results in a huge amount of unsold perishables. From the viewpoint of consumers, the case has raised serious questions about the merits of such a system.
 消費者の視点からこの一件を見れば、問われているのは値引き制限の背後に隠れた「定価販売と大量廃棄を前提にしたビジネスモデル」がこのままでいいのか、ということになる。

An unusual method is used to calculate profits and losses for most convenience stores. The franchiser deducts a certain percentage of the profits from the sales at its chain stores as royalties, which are listed as "charges."
 多くのコンビニで特異な損益計算方法がまかり通っている。コンビニ本部は、加盟店の売り上げに伴う利益の一定比率を「チャージ」などと称して天引きする。

The problem is that franchisees effectively have to bear the cost of unsold items. In short, the operator of a convenience store chain doesn't take on the risk of unsold products nor covers any of the losses from such leftovers while taking a percentage off their profits from actual sales.
売れ残り品はどうなるか。これは事実上、仕入れ原価で加盟店オーナーが買い取り、廃棄している。つまり、コンビニ本部は売れ残りのリスクや損失は負担せず、売れた品物だけから上前をはねる構図だ。

For the chain operator, which wants to maximize its profits, it is far more important to ensure that no item is out of stock when a customer comes to buy it. That far outweighs the amount of unsold perishables that need to be thrown out. So the franchiser puts pressure on franchisees to always be well-stocked, fully aware that this business approach increases the risk of items having to be thrown out.
 コンビニ本部ができるだけ多くの利益を確保しようとすれば、売れ残りの危険よりも、「客が来ても欲しい品物がない」という欠品の方が重大な問題になる。そこで、常に多めの仕入れをするよう加盟店に圧力をかけ、結果的に廃棄されることを承知の上で、売れ残りを増やしても顧みない。

It is estimated that the average value of goods unsold and disposed of at Seven-Eleven stores is equivalent to about 3 percent of sales.
 加盟店の標準的な廃棄額は売上高の3%程度といわれる。

Store owners who regard this system as wasteful criticized the chain operator for putting pressure on them to stock to excess. Some of them say Seven-Eleven officials told them to regard the disposal of unsold goods as investment or to abandon their scruples.
心を痛めるオーナーからは、コンビニ本部が「廃棄は投資と考えよ」「人間の心は捨ててくれ」とまで言って過大な仕入れを求めた、と悲痛な声もあがる。

Most consumers have been enjoying the convenience of the around-the-clock operations of these ubiquitous small markets without recognizing the seamy side of the business. Could convenience stores continue doing business in their current way if, for instance, they put up posters at their checkout counters, honestly informing customers of the total value of goods discarded every month?
 24時間いつでも買い物ができる便利さを味わってきた私たち消費者は、このような暗部への認識が薄かった。だが、例えば、各店舗のレジに「当店は月間○○万円分の商品を廃棄しています」と正直に掲げて、これまで通りに商売が成り立つだろうか。

Seven-Eleven should disclose accurate information about how much goes to waste. The public should be told the total value and quantity of perishables that are thrown out at the chain's 12,000 stores nationwide. Seven-Eleven should also explain how many people could be fed with that amount. The company also needs to clarify how it intends to deal with this problem and thereby fulfill its social responsibility.
 セブンは廃棄の実態を公表すべきだ。全国1万2千店で総額いくらか、総量で何トンか、それで何人分の食事を賄えるのか、などを知りたい。社会的責任を含め、廃棄とどう向き合うかについても姿勢を示す必要がある。

Discount sales should be seen as a worthwhile proposal. It would allow franchisees to reduce the amount of unsold products that must be discarded. It is clearly time for Seven-Eleven to change its ways.
 値下げ販売は、売れ残り=廃棄を減らす観点からの加盟店オーナーの有力な提案である。今度はセブンの本部が変わる番だ。

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西川社長続投 理解得られぬ甘い「けじめ」

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 24, 2009)
Public won't accept Nishikawa reappointment
西川社長続投 理解得られぬ甘い「けじめ」(6月24日付・読売社説)

A settlement has been reached, but it will not satisfy most of the public.
 こんな決着で、国民の多くは果たして納得するだろうか。

It has effectively been decided that Japan Post Holdings Co. President Yoshifumi Nishikawa will stay in his post.
 日本郵政の西川善文社長の続投が、事実上、決まった。

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tsutomu Sato said Monday he had decided to authorize the proposed reappointment of Nishikawa after the president informed him that Japan Post's five executives, including himself, would take self-disciplinary pay cuts.
Sato also said Prime Minister Taro Aso had approved the decision.
 佐藤総務相が22日、西川社長から本人を含む役員5人の報酬を自主返上する社内処分の報告を受けて続投を認め、麻生首相も総務相の判断を了承したという。

===

Questions remain unanswered

The biggest issue now facing Japan Post are questions revolving around the attempted sale of its Kampo no Yado nationwide network of resort hotels.
 日本郵政をめぐる最大の疑問は「かんぽの宿」の売却問題だ。

Why did Japan Post attempt to sell 70 resort facilities developed at the hefty cost of 240 billion yen for a mere 10.9 billion yen?
 2400億円もかけて整備した70施設を日本郵政はなぜ109億円の安値で売ろうとしたのか。

The process behind Japan Post's sloppy procedures for the attempted sale of the facilities, which went unchallenged, must be fully explained. The firm even admitted a lack of records concerning the process of selecting a buyer, which is unthinkable for a private company.
売却先を選ぶ過程の記録が欠落するなど、民間では考えられない杜撰(ずさん)な手続きがまかり通った経緯も詳しく知りたい。

The ministry issued Japan Post with a business improvement order in April, asking it to explain these points. However, Sato endorsed Nishikawa's reappointment after only being given a brief explanation of what occurred. Japan Post was scheduled to submit its final report on the matter Wednesday.
 総務省は業務改善命令でこうした疑問への説明を求め、24日にも日本郵政が最終報告する予定だった。しかし、総務相は概要の説明を聞いただけで続投を認めた。

Many questions remain unresolved. The impression cannot be easily dismissed that Sato, having judged that prolonged confusion is damaging, rushed to draw a line under the issue.
 数々の疑問は、まだ解消されていない。混乱の長期化は得策ではないとみて、幕引きを急いだ印象がぬぐえない。

Many problems also remain in terms of Japan Post's disciplinary action against its top management.
 経営陣に対する社内処分にも問題が多い。

Nishikawa promised Sato he would immediately dismiss executives he had recruited from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. where he once served as president. But Nishikawa himself will do no more than give up 30 percent of his pay over the next three months. This is too lenient.
 西川社長は、自身が頭取を務めた三井住友銀行から連れてきた幹部たちを「速やかに辞めさせる」と総務相に約束した。一方で、社長自らは報酬の30%を3か月間、自主返上するだけで済ませるというのでは、甘過ぎるだろう。

Questions were raised over the disciplinary measures proposed by Nishikawa, even from within the Liberal Democratic Party, with LDP General Council Chairman Takashi Sasagawa saying, "Resignation is his best option if he's admitted responsibility [by taking a pay cut]."
Criticism of Nishikawa is growing within the opposition parties, who are demanding a thorough debate of the matter.
 自民党からも、笹川総務会長が「(報酬返上で)自分の責任を認めたのなら辞めた方がよい」と述べるなど、疑問を呈する声が出ている。野党各党もこの問題の集中審議を要求するなど、批判は強まる一方だ。

After all that has occurred, only one outcome would be satisfactory--Nishikawa should voluntarily resign.
 やはり西川社長は、自発的に辞任するのが筋だろう。

The business improvement measures presented so far by Japan Post also are questionable in terms of their likely effectiveness.
 日本郵政が示した改善策も、実効性に疑問がある。

Japan Post said that to strengthen supervision of its management it will establish the post of chairman, above the post of president. The chairman also would concurrently chair a newly set up management advisory council.
 経営への監視を強めるため、西川社長の上に会長を置き、新設する経営諮問会議の議長を兼任させるという。

However, Japan Post plans to appoint the chairman from the ranks of its outside directors. Can this cosy system, formed of the firm's unchanged current top management lineup, be sure to strengthen oversight of the company?
だが、会長は現在の社外取締役から充てる案だ。顔ぶれが変わらぬ「内輪同士」で、チェック機能は強まるだろうか。

===

Responsibility rests with PM

The final responsibility for approving Nishikawa's reappointment rests with Aso.
 西川社長の続投を決めた最終責任者は麻生首相である。

The prime minister dismissed former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama earlier this month for having confused matters regarding the reappointment of Nishikawa--a decision that lacked any sense of balance.
 一方で首相は、鳩山邦夫・前総務相を「事態を混乱させた」として更迭した。著しくバランスを欠く対応だ。

With a view to replacing Nishikawa, Aso several months ago handed Hatoyama a list of candidates to succeed the president. Hasn't the confusion been caused by Aso's about-face rather than actions of Hatoyama?
首相は数か月前、社長交代を前提に後継候補のリストを鳩山氏に渡していた。事態を混乱させたのは、心変わりした首相自身ではないのか。

It appears inevitable that Aso will face growing criticism over his role in this affair.
 首相に対する批判が高まるのは避けられないだろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2009)
(2009年6月24日01時36分  読売新聞)

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日航公的支援 「親方日の丸」から脱却せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 23, 2009)
JAL should end dependence on govt
日航公的支援 「親方日の丸」から脱却せよ(6月23日付・読売社説)

The government has officially decided to provide financial support to Japan Airlines, which has been suffering from poor business results, since it apparently can no longer allow Japan's flag-carrier to further decline.
 失速しかけた日本の翼を、これ以上放置できないということだろう。政府は、業績不振が続く日本航空の本格支援に乗り出すことを決めた。

Support for JAL will include an emergency loan worth 100 billion yen to be extended jointly by the government-backed Development Bank of Japan and three major private banks with the government guaranteeing 80 percent of the loan. Along with securing the loan, the government also will directly supervise the reconstruction of the airline.
 日本政策投資銀行が危機対応融資を活用し、大手銀行と共同で日航に約1000億円を融通する。政投銀融資の80%は政府が保証する――というのが支援の中身だ。それに伴い、政府は日航の経営再建を直接指導・監督する。

It is unusual for the government to support a private company with such a huge loan, but taking into account the importance of the service JAL provides to the public and the impact it has on the national economy, the government may deem it imperative to act. JAL should fundamentally review its management, considering this its last opportunity to reform itself.
 国が民間企業にこれほどまとまった融資をして経営を支えるのは異例だ。国民生活や経済への影響を考えれば、やむを得まい。日航は改革の最後の機会ととらえ、経営を根本から見直すべきだ。

JAL reported post-tax losses of 63.1 billion yen for the business year ending in March 2009. The airline is expected to declare almost the same amount of losses in the business year to end March 2010, too. It climbed into the black in the business year ending March 2008 for the first time in three years, but returned to the red only one year later.
 日航の2009年3月期決算は税引き後の損益が631億円の赤字となった。10年3月期もほぼ同額の赤字となる見通しだ。08年3月期には3年ぶりに黒字になったが、1年で赤字に逆戻りした。

===

Combination hurt bottom line

The company's poor performance is attributed to the aftereffects of high fuel prices last year and a sharp decrease in passengers due to the global recession. The decrease in passengers on domestic routes, a major revenue source for All Nippon Airways Co., which is JAL's rival, was small. However, the number of passengers on international routes, a major revenue source for JAL, decreased by more than 10 percent compared to the previous period.
 不振の原因は、昨年の燃料高の後遺症と、世界同時不況による旅客の急減だ。ライバルの全日本空輸が主力とする国内線の落ち込みは小さかったが、日航が収益源とする国際線旅客は前期より1割以上も減った。

JAL has succeeded in cutting labor costs to a certain degree. But the airline has failed to reduce interest-bearing debts quickly and been slow in improving its balance sheet. The company also has delayed in changing its planes to smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft and investing money in a strategic manner.
 人件費の圧縮はある程度進んだが、有利子負債の削減など、財務体質の改善が遅れ、燃費の良い小型機への切り替えや戦略的な投資が進んでいない。

It can no longer expect a turnaround through mere stopgap cost-cutting measures. JAL should study whether to continue unprofitable businesses, including the option of transferring them to other companies, while it needs to consider not just reducing the number of flights on money-losing routes, but dropping those routes altogether. Such drastic restructuring measures are essential for JAL.
 もはや付け焼き刃の経費削減では、業績の好転は期待できまい。不採算の事業分野は他社への譲渡も含めて存廃を検討し、不採算路線は減便で済まさず、一気に撤退するなど、より踏み込んだリストラ策が不可欠だ。

===

Long history of bail-outs

The airline had received emergency loans from the DBJ to help it weather the poor business results it suffered due to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and other incidents in the past. With the addition of the latest loans, the total extended by the DBJ to JAL would exceed 300 billion yen.
 日航はこれまでも、米同時テロなどで業績が悪化するたびに、政投銀の緊急支援を受けてきた。今回の融資で、政投銀の日航への融資額は3000億円を超える水準まで膨れあがる。

JAL probably cannot refute criticism that the airline has not yet completed sufficient corporate restructuring, but has no qualms about relying on government-backed bank loans because it has not yet ended its dependence on the government stemming from its days as a government-affiliated company.
 経営改革が不十分なまま、政府系金融機関の融資に頼るのは、特殊法人時代の「親方日の丸」気分から抜け切っていないため、と見られても仕方ないだろう。

JAL cannot win the approval of the public for the government assistance it is to receive without reforming its corporate structure. Some observers point out that eight trade-specific unions at JAL are obstructing restructuring. It is also necessary to stick the knife of reform into such complicated labor-management relations.
 企業体質の改革も進めなければ、公的支援に対する国民の理解は得られまい。職種別組合が八つもあり、リストラの足かせとの指摘もある。この複雑な労使関係にもメスを入れる必要がある。

Meanwhile, aviation authorities are partly responsible for JAL's poor performance because they have built nearly 100 airports around the country and put political pressure on the airline to open unprofitable routes.
 日航の業績不振は、全国に100近くも空港を建設し、政治的な圧力をかけて不採算路線を開設させてきた航空行政にも責任の一端がある。

In supporting JAL once again, the government and the ruling parties should take this opportunity to closely review past aviation policy.
政府・与党は日航の経営支援を機に、これまでの航空行政も再検証すべきだ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 23, 2009)
(2009年6月23日01時33分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月22日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:青年の言葉に応えた教授 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) June 21, 2009
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The difference between being a doctor and helping the sick
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:青年の言葉に応えた教授 /東京

Rika KayamaI recently had the pleasure of speaking at a series of public lectures held by the Japanese Society of Child Neurology in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture. Of course, neurology and psychiatry are different sciences, but there are quite a few places where they overlap. In fact, as I was waiting to make my own presentation, I learned a lot listening to the neurology experts speaking before me.
 日本小児神経学会の市民公開講座で講演をすることになり、鳥取県の米子市に行ってきた。神経学と精神医学は同じではないとはいえ、重なる部分も少なくない。私も講演前には、他の先生たちの発表を聞いて子どもの発達障害について勉強させてもらった。

After my speech, I joined a symposium chaired by Kenzo Takeshita, a veteran professor at Tottori University, which sponsored the event. However, Takeshita's business card, which I received when I first met him, declares that he's the head of the non-profit organization Child Guidance Center Ringo-no-ie, based not in Tottori but in Fukuoka Prefecture. I wondered how a university professor became part of this Ringo-no-ie organization, but I didn't have the chance to ask him at the time.
 私の講演も何とか終わり、その後のシンポジウムの司会は、学会を主催した鳥取大学で長く教授を務めた竹下研三先生。打ち合わせのときにもらった名刺の肩書は、「NPO・子ども相談センターりんごの家 責任者」となっている。しかも、場所は鳥取ではなくて福岡県。大学教授から「りんごの家」ってどういうことだろう、と思ったのだが、その場では尋ねられなかった。

Takeshita introduced himself at the beginning of the symposium, and it was then that I was let in on the secret of the professor and Ringo-no-ie.
 シンポジウムが始まって、竹下先生が自己紹介をした。そこで「りんごの家」の秘密がわかった。

When Takeshita was just starting out as a professor, a young patient in a wheelchair made a comment to him that he carried with him to that day. "You live protected in the ivory tower of your university, but we don't," the boy said. "So there is no way that you can understand how we feel."
先生は教授になった当初、車椅子に乗った青年の患者からこう言われたのだそうだ。「あなたは大学という城の中で守られているけれど、オレたちはそうじゃない。だからオレの気持ちなんかわかるわけないじゃないか」。その言葉は先生の胸に突き刺さり、それからずっと消えなかったという。

When Takeshita reached mandatory retirement age, he thought he ought to do something about answering the boy's criticism. He headed back to his home town in Fukuoka Prefecture and founded the Ringo-no-ie NPO, which provides advice and counseling for parents and guardians regarding raising children and child development. Takeshita said that he is always grateful to that boy from so many years ago, while at the same time feels his activities at the NPO prove he is "not in the ivory tower of university."
 そして、大学を定年退職で去ることになったとき、「今こそ、あの青年の問いかけに応えよう」と思い、郷里に戻ってNPO法人を立ち上げ、子育てや子どもの発達に悩む保護者の相談に乗ることにしたのだそうだ。活動の中で先生は「ほら、私はもう大学という城にいるんじゃないよ」とあの日の青年に呼びかけながら、いつも本当に感謝している、と語った。

I was so impressed by Takeshita's depth, gravity and sincerity that for a while I completely lost track of what was being said in the symposium.
 私はその話の重さと深さ、そして竹下先生の誠実さに感動し、しばらく次のシンポジストの話が耳に入らなかったほどだ。

It must be said that I, too, habitually take on a slightly self-congratulatory, I'm-doing-this-for-the-patients attitude in my day to day treatment of patients, though really my duties simply stem from my work at hospitals and wearing the white coat. Perhaps I am simply trying to conduct myself the way I think a doctor should.
 確かに私も、日ごろはちょっと偉そうに“患者さんのため”だなんて言って診療をしているけれど、それはあくまで病院に所属し、白衣を着てのうえのこと。先生、先生と呼ばれるからこそ、医者らしく振る舞えているのかもしれない。

Even though, once I step out of the hospital no one can recognize me as a doctor, can I still say that I am acting "for the world, and for the good of the sick"? Even if it's impossible right now, I wonder if I will have the energy after I retire to, like Takeshita, say, "Right, it's time to get down to business," and head to some local area and start an NPO.
病院を一歩出て、誰からも医者だと認められないようなところでも、私は“世のため、病める人のため”などと言って活動することができるだろうか。今すぐはできなくても、竹下先生のように定年後に「よし、やってやるか」と地方でそんなNPOを立ち上げたりするエネルギーは、私に備わっているだろうか……。

That Takeshita could, after 30 years, do something to answer the sharp words of that wheelchair-bound boy is a great feat. I was also very lucky to have heard such great words on what was originally a lighthearted trip to Tottori Prefecture. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
 その青年が投げかけた言葉もすごければ、30年かけてそれに応えた竹下先生もすごい。気軽に行った鳥取ですごい話が聞けた私は本当にラッキーだった。

毎日新聞 2009年6月16日 地方版

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地方制度答申 分権へ議会と監査を強化せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 22, 2009)
Decentralization needs strong local pols, audits
地方制度答申 分権へ議会と監査を強化せよ(6月22日付・読売社説)

To promote decentralization, it is essential to improve the local government systems to which administrative work and authority are to be transferred. In addition to municipal mergers, it is important to strengthen local assemblies as well as auditing and oversight of local governments.
 地方分権の推進には、事務や権限を譲り受ける自治体の体制充実が欠かせない。市町村合併に加え、地方議会や監査機能の強化が重要である。

An advisory panel to the prime minister on local government has proposed that the incentives for the so-called Heisei-era megamergers end in March. The panel also suggested that the megamerger campaign be followed by voluntary mergers, regional cooperation among municipalities and the establishment of administrative support systems by prefectural governments for small municipalities.
 第29次地方制度調査会が、「平成の大合併」を来年3月に終結させることを答申した。その後は、自主的な合併のほか、複数の市町村の広域連携や、都道府県による小規模市町村への行政支援の制度を用意するよう提言している。

The government's megamerger campaign that started in 1999 has decreased the number of municipalities with populations of fewer than 10,000 by nearly 70 percent, with about 470 such municipalities remaining. The financial situation of municipal governments in depopulated mountainous areas or on remote islands is serious.
 1999年以来の合併運動の結果、人口1万人未満の自治体は7割近く減少したが、なお470前後が残る。過疎の山間地や離島の自治体の財政状況は厳しい。

Tokyo, Osaka and other metropolitan areas have seen few municipal mergers. Even if it is not so problematic at this stage, financial burdens are expected to sharply rise in the mid- to long-term due to rapid aging of the population and renovation of public facilities.
 東京、大阪など大都市圏では合併がほとんど進まなかった。今は問題がなくても、中長期的には、急速な高齢化や公共施設の更新で財政負担の急増が見込まれる。

===

Continue voluntary mergers

To strengthen administrative and fiscal bases of municipal governments, mergers remain a promising option. Voluntary mergers of municipalities should be encouraged, and systems for the central and prefectural governments to extend support for municipal mergers should remain in the future.
 市町村の行財政基盤を強固にするには、今後も、合併が有力な選択肢であることに変わりはない。今回は見送っても、将来、市町村が自主的に合併する道と、国や都道府県が合併を側面支援する制度は残すべきだろう。

The panel called for widening the scope of public works projects and other matters for which assembly approval is required to conclude contracts, as well as the target of semipublic sector entities required to submit financial reports to local assemblies. These measures are expected to strengthen the oversight functions of local assemblies.
 答申は、地方議会の監視機能を強めるため、公共事業などの契約締結の議決対象や、議会に経営状況を報告する第3セクターなどの対象を拡大するよう求めた。

When decentralization moves forward, the role of local assemblies will become significantly larger. While universal criteria for setting up day care centers set by the central government are to be minimized, criteria that could be stipulated through ordinances passed by local assemblies are to significantly increase.
 地方分権が進めば、地方議会の役割は一段と大きくなる。国が定める全国統一の保育所の設置基準などは必要最小限のものに限る一方で、地方議会が条例で定められる基準が大幅に増える。

In such processes, it is unacceptable that local assembly members continue acting as go-betweens for particular interests or practicing pork-barrel politics.
 そうした中で、地方議員が従来通りの口利き行為や地元への利益誘導に走ることは許されない。

===

Local government must change

Members of local assemblies must be well aware of the gravity of their responsibilities and are expected to change their attitudes. Local residents, for their part, should pay attention not only to local governments but also to local assemblies.
 地方議員は、その責任の重みを自覚し、意識改革を図ることが求められる。住民も、自治体だけでなく、地方議会の動向にも、もっと関心を持つべきだろう。

The panel's proposal included measures to strengthen auditing functions. The panel called for joint establishment of an auditing committee office by a number of municipalities and the introduction of a system under which local governments would undergo external auditing once in a couple of fiscal years.
 答申には、自治体の監査機能の強化策も盛り込まれた。複数の市町村による監査委員会事務局の共同設置や、外部監査を複数年度に1回受ける方式の導入である。

These measures are aimed at helping small municipalities, which have difficulty in setting up an independent audit office or conducting external auditing every fiscal year, to expand their auditing functions.
 独立した監査委事務局を設置したり、外部監査を毎年度実施したりするのが財政的に困難な小規模市町村が、監査体制を拡充しやすくするのが目的だ。

To prevent another case of municipal bankruptcy like the city of Yubari in Hokkaido, local governments from this fiscal year under the law on local government fiscal health are obliged to make fiscal reconstruction plans in certain cases based on financial settlements in previous fiscal years.
 今年度からは「第二の夕張」を出さないため、地方自治体財政健全化法に基づき、前年度決算を踏まえた財政再生・健全化計画の義務付けが始まる。

It is important that each local government try to streamline administrative work without losing the substance of auditing functions but by incorporating third-party perspectives generated from external auditing.
 各自治体は、監査を形骸(けいがい)化させず、外部監査による第三者の視点を活用し、行政の合理化に努めることが大切だ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 22, 2009)
(2009年6月22日01時26分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月21日 (日)

景気底打ち宣言―回復への道はまだ遠い

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 19(IHT/Asahi: June 20,2009)
EDITORIAL: Outlook on the economy
景気底打ち宣言―回復への道はまだ遠い

The government on Wednesday effectively proclaimed that the economy has bottomed out, citing signs of recovery in industrial production and exports. No doubt many people felt the announcement is divorced from reality.
 政府が事実上の「景気底打ち」宣言をした。これには多くの人が実感とのズレを感じたに違いない。

The unemployment rate is on the rise, and the ratio of job offers to job seekers is at the worst level on record. People everywhere are gripped by anxiety about their job security. Big companies are slashing summer bonuses. Wages are falling and a growing number of households are feeling the pinch. Consumers are keeping their purse strings tied tightly, and retail sales remain sluggish.
People must be wondering what warrants the government's optimistic view.
 失業率は上昇し、有効求人倍率は過去最悪。雇用の先行きは不安がいっぱいだ。大手企業が夏のボーナスを大幅にカットしているが、賃金も減って、家計が苦しいと感じる人がますます多くなっている。消費者の財布のひもは固く、モノが売れない。これで「底打ち」といえるのか……というのが人々の受け止め方だろう。

That is hardly surprising. While the government is saying the worst appears to be over, both manufacturing output and exports remain at more than 30 percent below where they were last autumn when the global economic crisis surfaced. Indeed, the pace of the steep economic downturn has slowed, allaying fears of a bottomless trough. But there are few reassuring signs of a rebound. That would be a fairer way to describe the state of the domestic economy.
 それも当然だ。底を打ったと言っても、生産も輸出も、水準は世界経済危機が一気に表面化した昨秋と比べ、まだ3割以上も低い。景気の急降下のスピードが弱まり、ようやく「底抜け」の恐怖は去った。だが回復への足がかりもなかなか見えない。現状はそんなところではないか。

The government may be hoping to stop already weak consumer spending from sinking further by telling the public that the economy has reached its nadir. It may also be trying to strengthen its political position before the Lower House election that must be called by September. The government probably wants to impress upon voters that its massive economic stimulus package has worked wonders.
 政府には、底打ち宣言で消費の萎縮(いしゅく)を食い止めたい、との狙いもありそうだ。大型の危機対策の効果と実績を演出し、総選挙に役立てたいという思惑もあるのだろう。

But this is no ordinary recession that can be overcome simply through measures spelled out in the package.
 だが、今回の不況はその程度で克服できるようなものではない。

When Japan finally emerged from the prolonged malaise following the collapse of the late-1980s asset-inflated economy, the U.S. and Chinese economies were in good shape, supporting Japan's recovery by gobbling up this nation's exports. But now, the financial systems in the United States and Europe are unstable, and it will likely be a while before their economies regain strength.
日本がバブル崩壊後の長期停滞から抜け出したころには、米国や中国の経済が好調で、輸出が力強いエンジンになった。ところが今は米国も欧州も金融システムがいまだ不安定で、回復にはかなり時間がかかると見られる。

In China, the gargantuan fiscal stimulus package adopted by the government is beginning to produce results. But it is unclear whether the Chinese economy will grow rapidly again when the effects have run their course.
 中国は大型景気対策の効果が出ているものの、息切れしたときにどこまで高成長路線を突っ走れるのか。

The global situation does not warrant calls for Japan to depend on economic recovery driven by external demand. That explains the cautiousness of Kaoru Yosano, minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, at a news conference when he declared the domestic economy has bottomed out.
"Japan cannot recover on its own, and there will still be downside risks, depending on the course of the world economy," he said.
 とても外需頼みの回復シナリオを描けるような環境とは言えないのだ。与謝野経済財政相が底入れ宣言の記者会見で「日本単独での回復はなく、世界経済の状況によっては下ぶれリスクがある」と慎重な見方を付け加えたのは、そのためだ。

The fight against this recession is going to be long and drawn out. Policy measures designed mainly to provide a temporary stimulus won't work. The government should rather make all-out policy efforts based on a long-term perspective. Such efforts should focus on putting the economy on a stable growth track. This can be done by nurturing new industries and creating a sense of security among the public. Fixing the nation's troubled social security system and restoring fiscal health are the key.
Given the nation's demographic decline, there is a clear limit to any growth in domestic demand.
 人口減少社会の日本では内需拡大にも限界がある。となるとV字形回復が無理なのはもちろん、回復軌道は中華鍋形でもなく、底ばい状態が長いフライパン形になる可能性もある。
 この不況との闘いは長くなりそうだ。一時的な景気刺激に重点を置いた対策では、通用しない。むしろ長期的な視点から新産業を育てると同時に、社会保障や財政を立て直し、安心感を生むことで国民経済を安定させるという本格的な取り組みが問われる。

In particular, social security reform is an urgent challenge. We readily acknowledge that it will be difficult to implement drastic tax reform, such as raising the consumption tax rate, before the economy recovers. Clearly though, consumption tax is the most promising source of revenue to finance social security spending. But both the ruling and opposition parties should offer basic plans for overhauling the social safety net as key planks of their campaign platforms for the looming election.
 とくに社会保障の再建は急がねばならない。財源として有力視される消費税増税などの税制改革は景気回復まで実施に踏み切れないとしても、総選挙ではそれらに関する基本戦略を政権公約の柱に据えるべきである。

In his recent Diet face-off with Prime Minister Taro Aso, Yukio Hatoyama, president of Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), pledged to keep the consumption tax rate unchanged for four years if his party comes to power. Aso ripped into Hatoyama, saying debate on a hike in the consumption tax rate is no longer avoidable.
Both party leaders need to talk more specifically about their policy proposals and their plans to finance them.
 党首討論で「政権を取っても4年間は消費税を増税しない」という鳩山民主党代表も、「消費税論議は避けて通れない」と批判した麻生首相も、政策と財源の具体化を語ることが必要だ。

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児童ポルノ 与野党で法案の一本化を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 21, 2009)
Anti-child porn bills should be unified
児童ポルノ 与野党で法案の一本化を急げ(6月21日付・読売社説)

Diet deliberations on a bill to revise the law punishing acts related to child prostitution and child pornography have been delayed.
 児童買春・児童ポルノ禁止法改正案の国会審議が遅れている。

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito last June submitted to the Diet a revised bill that would prohibit the possession of child pornography and punish violators, even if they do not sell such images. But since then, no substantive discussions on the issue have been held at the Diet. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan also presented its own bill to revise the law during the current Diet session.
 児童ポルノを私的に利用する「単純所持」禁止を盛り込んだ自民、公明の与党案は、昨年6月の提出以来、実質的な審議はなく、今国会には民主党案も提出された。

There is little to tell between both bills, which are intended to strengthen regulations protecting children from sexual abuse. The ruling and opposition parties should make efforts to quickly pass a revised bill into law, such as by unifying their respective bills.
 両案は、子供たちを性的虐待から守るための規制強化では一致しており、大きな隔たりはない。法案を一本化するなどして、早期の成立を図るべきだ。

Under the current law, the possession of child pornography for the purpose of offering it to others for profit or without charge is illegal.
 現行法は、児童ポルノを他人に有償無償を含め提供する目的で所持することなどを禁じている。

When the law was enacted in 1999, prohibiting the possession of child pornography and punishing violators, even if they do not sell such images, was discussed. But eventually, such a provision was shelved on the ground that it would encroach on personal preferences and could violate privacy rights.
 単純所持禁止は、10年前の法制定の際にも検討されたが、個人の嗜好(しこう)やプライバシーの侵害につながるなどとして見送られた。

However, with the spread of the Internet, child pornography has been rapidly proliferating. Under the current circumstances, in which the possession of child pornography is not prohibited as long as the holder does not proliferate such images, it is difficult to charge providers of child pornography in many cases, even if police confiscate their personal computers.
 しかし、インターネットの普及で児童ポルノの拡散は急速に進んでいる。単純所持が禁止されていない場合、警察がパソコンを押収しても、児童ポルノ提供者を摘発するのは難しい場合が多い。

===

International probes stymied

Among the Group of Eight countries, Japan and Russia are the only two nations that do not criminalize the possession of child pornography if the holders do not sell such images. The fact that Japan allows the possession of child pornography hampers international police investigations into child pornography.
 主要8か国(G8)で単純所持を禁止していないのは、日本とロシアだけだ。日本が単純所持を容認していることが、国際捜査協力の支障となっている。

The revised bill drafted by ruling parties would prohibit the possession of child pornography for "indecent purposes" and would penalize violators if they possessed such images for the purpose of "satisfying their sexual curiosity."
 与党案は、児童ポルノを「みだりに」所持することを禁止し、「性的好奇心を満たす目的」で所持した場合に限り罰則を設けた。

Meanwhile, the DPJ's bill would make it a crime to obtain child pornography by paying for it or to obtain it repeatedly, imposing a heavier penalty than the ruling parties' bill.
 民主党案は、代金を払うか、繰り返して取得することを禁じた取得罪を設け、与党案の単純所持罪より重い罰則を設けた。

It should not be so difficult to find common ground between the two bills.
 一致点を見いだすことは、それほど難しくないはずだ。

===

ISPs have key role to play

To strengthen controls on child pornography, cooperation by organizations in the private sector, such as Internet service providers, is indispensable.
 児童ポルノの規制を進めていくためには、ネット事業者など民間団体の協力も欠かせない。

The National Police Agency has launched a liaison council with private sector ISPs with the aim of cracking down on online child pornography by persuading the ISPs to install blocking software that prevents access to illegal Web sites. The council will discuss the technical issues involved.
 警察庁は、プロバイダーが違法なサイトへの接続を遮断する「ブロッキング」制度の導入に向け、ネット事業者らと児童ポルノ流通防止協議会を発足させた。今後、技術面などの検討が行われる。

An increasing number of countries, including the United States and European nations, have imposed regulations on comics, anime and other materials that contain material that could be construed as child pornography.
 児童ポルノに類したマンガやアニメなどについても、欧米では規制する国が増えている。

Recently, a Japanese-produced personal computer game featuring the rape of three women, including two girls, who are made pregnant and then forced to abort, was circulated worldwide and was condemned by the British Parliament and others.
 最近は、少女らをレイプして妊娠・中絶させる過程を疑似体験する日本製パソコンゲームソフトが国際的に出回り、英国議会などで批判された。

In response to such protests, industry organizations decided to prohibit the production and sales of game software featuring sexual violence.
 この問題を受けて業界団体は、性暴力を扱うゲームソフトの製造販売を禁止することを決めた。

In the bill drafted by the ruling parties, regulations on the usage of child pornography in game software is included as a subject to be examined in the future. It is an issue that should be actively discussed in terms of protecting children from child pornography, while respecting freedom of expression.
 児童ポルノのゲームなどに対する規制も、与党案は今後の検討課題として盛り込んでいる。「表現の自由」とのかねあいもあるが、児童保護の観点から積極的に議論すべきだ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2009)
(2009年6月21日01時43分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月20日 (土)

「西松献金」公判 小沢氏は「天の声」を説明せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 20, 2009)
Ozawa should explain 'voice from heaven'
「西松献金」公判 小沢氏は「天の声」を説明せよ(6月20日付・読売社説)

It is Ichiro Ozawa's responsibility as a politician to explain the situation after prosecutors claimed at a court hearing--a very public occasion--that the office of the former Democratic Party of Japan president issued "voices from heaven" intended to sway decisions over which firms would win public works project orders.
 公共工事の受注で、小沢事務所から「天の声」が出ていた――。法廷という公開の場で検察がこう指摘したのだから、その実態を説明するのが政治家の責務だろう。

The first hearing of the trial of a former president of Nishimatsu Construction Co. and another person, who have been indicted on a charge of violating the Political Funds Control Law and another charge was held at the Tokyo District Court on Friday.
 政治資金規正法違反などの罪に問われた西松建設前社長らの初公判が、東京地裁で開かれた。

In their opening statement, the prosecutors said Ozawa's office issued "voices from heaven" that instructed which construction company should get orders for public works projects in Iwate Prefecture--Ozawa's home turf--and others in neighboring Akita Prefecture. The prosecutors named five such projects in which Nishimatsu was involved.
 検察側は冒頭陳述で、民主党の小沢一郎前代表の地元岩手県の公共工事と、隣の秋田県の一部工事で、小沢事務所が受注業者を決定する「天の声」を出していたとして、西松建設が絡んだ5件の工事名を挙げた。

Of them, four were won by consortiums that included Nishimatsu. The bidding prices for them exceeded 12.2 billion yen. The prosecutors also identified a case in which Ozawa's state-funded first secretary, who has been indicted in connection with the political donation scandal, allegedly issued a "voice from heaven."
 このうち4件は、西松建設を含む共同企業体が受注し、落札額は122億円に上った。起訴された公設第1秘書が天の声を出したケースもあった、としている。

If political donations from the Nishimatsu side to the Ozawa side were made with the intention of getting the "voice from heaven" to speak, as the prosecutors argued, the donations would be tantamount to bribes. Some argue that parties involved in the scandal therefore sought to hide the donations.
 検察側が主張するように「天の声」を得るための金だったとすれば、西松建設からの献金は賄賂(わいろ)に近いことになる。だからこそ、当事者は献金を隠したかったのではないかとの見方も出ている。

===

Case appears watertight

The Political Funds Control Law bans corporate donations to lawmakers' political fund management organizations. Nishimatsu evaded this regulation by making donations to the Ozawa side through two dummy political organizations led by former Nishimatsu officials.
 政治資金規正法は、政治家の資金管理団体への企業献金を禁じている。西松建設は、OBを代表とする二つのダミーの政治団体を通じて小沢氏側に献金することで、この規制を逃れていた。

The former Nishimatsu president confirmed the claims in the indictment and said, "I shouldn't have acted in a way that broke the law."
 前社長はこうした起訴事実を認めるとともに、被告人質問で「法を犯してまでやるべきではなかった」と述べた。

In addition to the arguments advanced during Friday's hearing, Ozawa's secretary, who will be tried at a separate trial, has been charged with falsely booking donations worth 35 million yen in political fund reports filed by Ozawa's political fund management organization and two local DPJ chapters.
 分離公判となる小沢氏の秘書はこれに加え、資金管理団体と政党支部の収支報告書に3500万円分の虚偽を記入したとされる。

According to a record of the questioning of the secretary read by prosecutors, the secretary "was aware the donations in question were from the Nishimatsu side." This statement could indicate the secretary knew the donations were illegal.
 検察側が明らかにした秘書の供述調書では、秘書は「西松建設側の献金と知っていた」という。違法性を認識していたとも受け取れる供述である。

===

Many questions to answer

Ozawa has said,"It's impolite to ask a donor political organization how it raised political funds, and I won't stick my nose into such business."
 小沢氏はこれまで、「寄付をいただく政治団体に、資金をどう捻出(ねんしゅつ)したかを尋ねるのは失礼で、詮索(せんさく)しない」と説明してきた。

But Ozawa is not only being asked whether his secretary violated the Political Funds Control Law.
 だが、小沢氏が問われているのは、秘書の政治資金規正法違反の有無だけではない。

During Friday's first hearing, prosecutors pointed out an apparent link between political donations to Ozawa's side and public works orders. Why did he receive a large amount of political donations from one specific general contractor? How did he spend the money? Ozawa should provide detailed answers to such questions.
 初公判では、献金と公共工事の受注に密接な関係があったと指摘された。なぜ特定のゼネコンから多額の献金を受けたのか。それを何に使ったのか。こうした疑問にきちんと答えるべきだ。

Almost three months have passed since Ozawa's secretary was indicted. Has Ozawa made efforts to uncover the facts of the scandal during this period? This is not a matter that can be settled with his resignation from the top post of the main opposition party.
 秘書が起訴されて約3か月たった。この間、小沢氏はどこまで事実関係の把握に努めたのか。代表を辞任して済む問題ではない。

The party itself should not imagine it can draw a line under the scandal with a report issued by a third-party committee it set up. The DPJ also should provide accounts that satisfy the public.
 民主党も、第三者委員会が出した報告書で幕を引くことなく、党として国民が納得できる説明をしなければなるまい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 20, 2009)
(2009年6月20日01時26分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月19日 (金)

年金:受給申請の時効5年で消滅、365億円 07年度、過去最多2万1828件

(Mainichi Japan) June 18, 2009
36.5 billion yen worth of uncollected pension payments terminated in fiscal 2007
年金:受給申請の時効5年で消滅、365億円 07年度、過去最多2万1828件

 ◇社保庁、防止策を徹底せず
Pension payments totaling 36.5 billion yen were terminated in a record 21,828 cases in fiscal 2007 due to people's failure to apply for five or more years after reaching the entitlement age, it has been learned.
 受給開始年齢から5年以上受給申請がなく時効消滅した年金が07年度、過去最多の2万1828件、365億円に達したことが分かった。

The Social Insurance Agency sent out a notice in 1967 urging offices to take measures to avoid termination of payments after a fixed period of time. However, people who have lost the right to receive pensions have complained that offices have not gone through procedures to give them pensions even when they indicated they wanted to receive them, and the agency is likely to be questioned over its failure to provide sufficient assistance.
年金は本人が請求する「申請主義」で、社会保険庁は1967年、時効消滅させない対応を促す通知を出したが、受給権が消滅した人から「申請意思を示しても手続きをしてもらえなかった」などの声があり、十分な対策をしてこなかった社保庁の責任が改めて問われそうだ。【野倉恵、銭場裕司】

Social Insurance Agency officials said that in fiscal 1999, 14.9 billion yen worth of pension payments were terminated in 15,467 cases, and the figures have been increasing since then. In fiscal 2007 there were about 1,300 more cases than during the previous year, and the amount increased by about 3.2 billion yen.
 社保庁によると、時効消滅した年金は99年度の1万5467件、149億円から年々増える傾向にあり、07年度は06年度より約1300件、32億円増加。

Under a special pension prescription law that was established in 2007 after the problem of lost pension records emerged, the time limit for receiving pensions is not backdated unless pension records are corrected. Accordingly cases in which pensions are terminated due to failure to claim them are not covered by protective measures.
年金記録問題を受けて成立した年金時効特例法では、記録が訂正されないと時効をさかのぼらないため、申請せずに時効消滅したケースは対象にならない。

On April 5, 1967, the Social Insurance Agency sent out a notice to local bodies on measures to eliminate termination of pensions after a fixed period of time. It said that related parties should be instructed to encourage people who had turned 65 or people who had retired at an old age to quickly apply to receive their pensions. The notice also said that if people did not present prescribed written applications, if they expressed that they wanted to apply, then this should be treated as a written request.
 社保庁は67年4月5日付で「時効消滅の防止について」との文書を自治体に通知。65歳に達したり高齢で退職した被保険者に早く受給申請するよう関係者を指導する▽(社会保険事務所の窓口で)所定書面でなくても請求の意思が示されていれば請求書として受け付ける--としていた。

However, there were instances in which cases were not accepted without applications. One social insurance labor consultant in the Kanto region said that there were believed to be a significant number of cases in which people had indicated in person that they wanted to receive their pensions, but had ended up without pensions because they didn't file an application using the prescribed form.
 しかし、実際には各地で請求していないとみなされるケースが発生。関東地方の社会保険労務士によると、本人は窓口で受け取る意思を示したつもりでも、決まった書面での申請書を提出していないため、無年金となった例も少なくないとみられるという。

One Tokyo woman who died in 2007 at the age of 92 had belonged to the national pension scheme between 1960 and 1967, and the employees' pension scheme between 1967 and 1986. She qualified to receive a national pension in 1980, at the age of 65. When she applied to receive her employees' pension in 1983, she informed the office that she had also belonged to the national pension scheme, but she was not urged to fill out the correct forms, and until she died she was able to receive only the employees' pension. Her son filed an application for her national pension after she died, but since the limit on collection pensions was not backdated, he was only able to receive five years' worth of payments.
 07年に92歳で死亡した東京都内の女性は60~67年に国民年金、67~86年に厚生年金に加入。65歳になった80年に国民年金の受給資格を得た。83年に厚生年金の受給申請をした際、国民年金に加入していることも窓口で届け出たが、正式な書面で申請するよう促されず、死亡するまで厚生年金しか受給できなかった。死亡後に長男が国民年金を申請したが、時効分はさかのぼらないとして5年間の未支給分のみ給付された。

"She said that she wanted to receive the pension, and the office's actions go against the Social Insurance Agency's notice," the man said.
長男側は「請求の意思を示したのに、通知に反する」と訴えている。

When the Mainichi made inquiries with the Social Insurance Agency about the notice, officials in the agency's Pension Insurance Division and Social Insurance Operation Center initially said they did not know what the notice was. Accordingly, the Mainichi faxed a copy of the notice to the agency.
 こうしたことから、通知への見解を毎日新聞が社保庁に照会したところ、年金保険課や社会保険業務センターの担当者は当初「何の通知か分からない」と回答。このため、毎日新聞から通知のコピーをファクスした。

Commenting on the situation, a representative of the Pension Insurance Division said, "In cases in which the time limit has expired, we cannot deny the possibility of people having expressed the desire to file applications at counters in person, but the Social Insurance Agency's responsibility is an issue to be handled case by case in courts and so on."
 年金保険課は「時効のケースに本人が窓口で申請の意思表示をしていた場合がある可能性は否定できないが(社保庁の責任は)裁判などで個別に判断される問題」としている。

毎日新聞 2009年6月18日 東京朝刊

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移植法衆院通過 臓器提供の拡大へ踏み出した

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 19, 2009)
Vote a step forward for more organ donations
移植法衆院通過 臓器提供の拡大へ踏み出した(6月19日付・読売社説)

Current rules place tight restrictions on organ transplants in Japan, often forcing Japanese to travel abroad to receive transplants. This has to stop.
 日本国内では臓器移植を厳しく制限しながら、海外で臓器をもらう。こんな状況を、続けるわけにはいかない。

Thursday's vote in the House of Representatives signifies that many lawmakers recognize this fact and intend to expand opportunities for organ donations within Japan.
 多くの衆院議員がそう認識し、国内での臓器提供の拡大を図る意思を明確に示したと言えるだろう。

The lower house scheduled votes on four different bills in a plenary session on Thursday to revise the Organ Transplant Law. Plan A--which clears the way for more organ transplants within the country--passed the lower house.
 臓器移植法改正案は18日、四つの案が衆院本会議にかけられ、国内で臓器移植の道を大きく広げる「A案」が可決された。

With the exception of the Japanese Communist Party, which decided to abstain from voting, each party allowed its lawmakers to vote freely on the bills. Lawmakers therefore voted according to their own beliefs.
 棄権を決めた共産党以外は党議拘束をはずし、議員一人ひとりが自らの信念で記名投票した。

Of the 430 votes cast in the lower house, 263 were for Plan A, easily exceeding the 167 votes against it. With the approval of Plan A, voting for the remaining three proposals was called off.
賛成が263票で、反対167票を大きく上回った。最初にA案が可決されたため、他の3案は採決されなかった。

===

More in line with WHO

Plan A recognizes brain death as legal death per se and stipulates that if a person has not given clear permission to undergo a brain-death diagnosis or to become an organ donor if declared brain-dead, the decision will be entrusted to that person's family.
 A案は、脳死を「人の死」と位置付けた上で、脳死判定を受けるかどうか、脳死とされた後に臓器提供するかどうかは、本人の意思が不明なら家族に委ねる、という内容である。

This is almost the same as the World Health Organization's guiding principles as well as the organ transplant laws of other major industrialized nations.
 これは世界保健機関(WHO)の指針や主要各国の臓器移植法とほぼ同じものだ。

The nation's current Organ Transplant Law is the strictest in the world regarding the conditions for becoming an organ donor. Firstly, it requires a brain-dead person to have left in writing his or her intention to donate, such as in the form of an organ donor card. Even with this, however, organ donation can still be stopped if the family of the brain-dead person opposes it.
 日本の現行の臓器移植法は、臓器提供の条件が世界の中で突出して厳しい。まず本人がカードなど書面で提供意思を残していることが絶対条件だ。それでも家族が反対すれば移植はできない。

As a result, only 81 transplants using organs from brain-dead persons have been carried out in the about 12 years since the current Organ Transplant Law came into force in October 1997. In contrast, several thousand organ transplants are conducted in the United States every year, and several hundred in major European nations.
 その結果、法律の施行から約12年で、脳死移植は81例にとどまっている。米国では毎年数千例、欧州の主要国でも年間数百例あるのにあまりにも少ない。

===

Allow access for children

Under the Civil Code, the will to donate organs is legally recognized only when a donor is aged 15 or older. Therefore, organ transplants for infants and young children within the country are practically impossible due to the differences in organ sizes from donor to recipient.
 また、提供意思を示す能力があるのは民法上15歳からとされ、臓器の大きさが合わない乳幼児は、国内移植の道が事実上、閉ざされている。

This has resulted in a constant stream of Japanese children being taken overseas to receive organ transplants, often after their parents have made pleas for funds. Japanese adults also have gone abroad for operations, with some seeking organ transplants in China, where it is said that most organs come from executed criminals. Other nations have criticized Japan for these circumstances.
 このため、多くの子どもが支援金を募って海外で移植を受けてきた。大人も、中国で死刑囚から摘出されたと見られる臓器の移植を受けるなどしている。こうした日本の現状に対して、海外の視線は厳しい。

Plan A--which enables organ donation through family consent--also scraps the age limit for organ donation, which means young children will be able to receive transplants in Japan. Organ donations from adults also are expected to increase significantly.
 家族の同意で移植を可能にするA案は、15歳の壁を取り払い、乳幼児に国内移植の道を開く。大人の臓器提供もかなり増えると予想されている。

One of the three bills that did not make it to vote would have partially eased conditions on organ donation, including those aged 14 or younger only being allowed to donate with family consent. However, it is difficult to fundamentally change the current situation.
 採決されなかった3案には、15歳未満に限り家族同意で移植を可能とするなど、提供条件を部分的に緩和する案もあったが、現状を根本的に改めることは難しい。

Deliberations on the bill to revise the Organ Transplant Law will move on to the House of Councillors. There also is a move to seek the submission of a new proposal.
 臓器移植法改正案の審議は、舞台を参院に移す。さらに新たな提案を模索する動きもある。

This is a difficult issue involving viewpoints on life and death, but we cannot delay any longer in reaching a decision.
 死生観を問われる難しい問題だが、これ以上、結論を先送りすることはできない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2009)
(2009年6月19日01時48分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月18日 (木)

平成の大合併―現実を見据え次に進もう

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 17(IHT/Asahi: June 18,2009)
EDITORIAL: Municipal merger plan
平成の大合併―現実を見据え次に進もう

The Grand Municipal Consolidation of the Heisei Era, a government-led program that began in 1999 to promote mergers of cities, towns and villages, is nearing its end.
 「平成の大合併」と呼ばれた市町村の合併推進運動が、ひと区切りを迎えることになった。

In March 1999, there were 3,232 cities, towns and villages in Japan. By March 2010, the number will have been nearly halved to 1,760.
 99年3月から来年3月までに、日本の市町村の数は3232から1760へと半分近くに減る。

Back in 1888, the nation had more than 70,000 cities, towns and villages. But the number has since been reduced to one-fortieth through extensive consolidations during the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the Showa Era (1926-1989) and now the Heisei Era.
歴史を振り返れば、1888(明治21)年に町村は7万以上もあった。それが明治、昭和、平成の大合併を経て、約40分の1に再編されることになる。

It seems practically every conceivable pattern of municipal merger or consolidation has been tried out over the past decade. Now, the government's strategy of encouraging mergers with tax breaks and other fiscal benefits seems to have reached its limit.
In view of this situation, the Local Government System Research Council, an advisory panel, recommended to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday that the Grand Municipal Consolidation of the Heisei Era be discontinued at the end of March next year.
 10年余りの運動をへて、とりあえず考えられる市町村合併の組み合わせはおおむね試された観がある。税財政の優遇措置という「アメ」をぶら下げて進めた政府主導のやり方も、そろそろ限界だ。こんな情勢を受け、首相の諮問機関の地方制度調査会がきのう、来年3月末でひとまず幕を下ろすべきだと麻生首相に答申した。

When the government began promoting this program in 1999, the reason given was that smaller municipalities, which were experiencing serious depopulation and aging, would not be able to survive without fiscal rationalization through mergers.
 過疎や高齢化が進む中、合併による合理化で財政を立て直さなければ、小さな自治体は立ちゆかなくなる。政府が市町村に合併を促したのは、こんな理由からだ。

The Local Government System Research Council acknowledged that the mergers did help these municipalities and assisted decentralization by enlarging local governments and enabling them to exercise greater independence. As a result, they were able to employ their own healthcare and welfare experts.
 調査会の答申は、行政の規模が大きくなったり、保健や福祉など専門職員が置けるようになったりして、分権の受け皿としての体制が整備されつつあると、合併の効果を認めた。

But the mergers also created problems. Some municipalities undertook urban renewal projects with specially approved loans granted at the time of merger, only to end up with heavier debt. And for residents who were used to friendly neighborhood village or town offices where everyone knew each other, the merger meant they had to travel far to an impersonal, big-city office.
 弊害もある。合併時の特例で認められた借金で新しい街づくりを進めた結果、財政は借金返済の重荷を抱えてしまった。身近で面倒見のよかった役場が、遠くてよそよそしい市役所に変わってしまった。

This sort of discontent surfaced in the April "mini unified local elections," when voters in 17 cities--all products of mergers--voted out their incumbent mayors.
A senior offical at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications admitted, "Overall, people who don't think the mergers were a good thing slightly outnumber those who do."
 この4月の「ミニ統一地方選」で、現職市長が落選した17市はいずれも合併市だったのは、そうした住民の不満の表れだろう。総務省幹部は「全体としては、合併はよくなかったという声の方が若干多い」と認める。

Given this, it makes sense to stop and take a good, hard look at the situation.
 こんな現実を考えれば、ここで立ち止まって冷静に検証してみようというのは妥当な判断だ。

Instead, the nation's major political parties are determined to make "local government reorganization" a central issue in the next Lower House election. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is considering introducing the so-called doshusei system to reorganize the nation's cities, towns and villages into 700 to 1,000 kiso jichitai, or "basic municipalities" with populations ranging from 100,000 to 300,000.
 ただ、間近に迫った総選挙で、主要政党は「自治体再編」を主張の柱に据えようとしている。自民党は、道州制を導入し、市町村を人口10万から30万規模の700~1千の基礎自治体に再編することを検討している。

Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) came up with a plan, when Ichiro Ozawa was president, to consolidate cities, towns and villages into 700 to 800 entities, and eventually reorganize them into about 300 kiso jichitai basic municipalities. With Ozawa now gone, this plan will likely be reconsidered, but the party envisions further extensive mergers all the same.
 民主党は小沢前代表の時代に、市町村を700~800程度に集約し、将来的には300程度の基礎自治体にする案をまとめた。代表交代でこの案は再検討されそうだが、いずれにせよ、さらなる大合併が想定されている。

For any political party trying to sell a reformist image, it certainly helps to bring up the doshusei system and bold reorganization of local governments. We welcome policy debates aimed at ending the current concentration of power in the central government and furthering decentralization.
 道州制や自治体の大胆な再編は、改革イメージをアピールするには格好のテーマだ。中央集権を打ち破り、分権社会に造りかえる政策論争は歓迎だ。

But if the parties are considering excessive mergers just for the sake of competing on their commitment to reform, that would defeat the purpose of reform itself. We do not want any reorganization that is an end in itself and fails to put the people's welfare first. We expect the parties to engage in policy debates that will tell us exactly how they intend to reorganize the nation in a manner that meets the public's real needs.
 しかし、派手な改革を競うあまりに、より極端な合併を想定するとすれば本末転倒だ。数字ありきの再編論でなく、住民が主役となれる自治体の姿をどう具体化するか。合併に伴う現実を踏まえた政策論議をしてほしい。

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安心の実現―道筋見えねば託せない

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 17(IHT/Asahi: June 18,2009)
EDITORIAL: Social security reforms
安心の実現―道筋見えねば託せない

A government advisory council on social security has called for greater support to younger generations, especially families with small children and the young "working poor."
 子育て世帯やワーキングプアの若者をはじめ、若い世代の支援にもっと力を入れよう。政府の安心社会実現会議がそんな提言をまとめた。

In its report submitted to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Monday, the expert panel on building a society where people can feel a sense of security made 10 policy proposals the government should tackle immediately.
The panel urged the government to lower the tax burden on low-income earners and provide welfare benefits where necessary, offer job-training programs combined with livelihood support and increase scholarship benefits for needy students to supplement the current public student loan program.
 緊急に取り組む課題として、低所得の人の税金を安くし、場合によっては給付金を出す▽生活支援と組み合わせた職業訓練▽貸し付けに加えて給付型の奨学金制度を増やす――など10項目を挙げている。

Earlier, the national council on social security had called for enhancing the nation's social security system, saying the social safety net is showing signs of fraying.
 これまでにも社会保障国民会議が、今の安全網にほころびが生じているとして、社会保障の強化を求めていた。

The new report went further and proposed not just the reinforcement of the system but also a new direction for the social security policy, which has been focused on the well-being of senior citizens.
今回はさらに進めて、制度を立て直すだけでなく、高齢者重視だった給付のありようを転換するというのだ。

The government plans to incorporate the new recommendations into the economic and fiscal reform guidelines to be announced shortly.
 政府は、近くまとめる経済財政改革の基本方針「骨太の方針09」に、これらを反映させる予定だ。来る総選挙で「安心社会の実現」を看板政策に、という思惑もあるに違いない。

It is glaringly obvious that the government needs to go all out to tackle such serious problems as widening income gaps, increasing poverty and low fertility. The government has been far too slow in responding to these issues.
 深刻化する格差・貧困や少子化問題に、政府が本腰で乗り出すのは当然だ。むしろ遅すぎたくらいである。

One big worry is that the government has yet to give the public any idea about how it would finance all these measures.
だが大問題がある。実現の道筋が全く見えないことだ。

The consumption tax rate must be raised by 3.3 to 3.5 percentage points by 2015 just to finance proposals to bolster the health-care and pension programs included in the "medium-term program" for tax and social security reforms adopted by the government late last year, according to its estimate.
 政府が昨年末に決めた税制と社会保障の「中期プログラム」に盛り込まれた医療や年金の機能強化だけでも、15年までに消費税率3.3~3.5%の引き上げが必要とされる。

Funding all the proposals on the table, including the ones cited as urgent challenges in the new report, would require a sizable amount of new government money.
今回、緊急課題に挙がったものを含めると、かなりの財源が要ることになる。

Japanese voters remain unsure about how to respond to these seemingly fine proposals since their price tags are unclear.
 立派なメニューだけを並べられても、値段が分からないのでは、有権者は注文のしようがない。

The government debt has grown further due to new expenditures to deal with the economic crisis and falling tax revenues.
 経済危機対策や税収の落ち込みで、国の借金は膨らんだ。

According to an estimate published recently by the Cabinet Office, the consumption tax rate must be raised by about 7 percentage points in the near future, even if the target year for achieving fiscal soundness is pushed back. And this estimate is based on the assumption that growth of social security spending due to the aging of the population will be curbed for the time being.
先に内閣府が示した試算では、財政健全化の目標を先送りしても将来、消費税率を7%程度引き上げることが必要だという。
 しかも、この試算は高齢化に伴う社会保障費の伸びを当面抑制することが前提だ。

Many people must be concerned that much of the new money from the tax hike would be used to plug the fiscal hole, with little left for measures to expand social security.
増税分の大半が財政赤字の穴埋めに使われ、「安心の実現」は後回しになってしまうのではないか、と疑念を抱く人も少なくないだろう。

If Aso seeks a fresh public mandate to govern the nation, he needs to be straightforward with Japanese voters about his plan to finance the social security overhaul. He should make clear how much money would be needed to strengthen social security under his vision, how much taxpayers would have to pay and how the money would be actually spent.
 麻生首相が国民に信を問うなら、社会保障の充実にどれだけの費用が必要なのか、国民にお願いする負担増はいくらで、何に使うのか、道筋を正直に示すことが不可欠だ。

Opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), which wants the public to vote it into power in the next election, has pledged to keep the consumption tax rate unchanged for at least four years. The party has said it would save 20 trillion yen through the elimination of wasteful expenditures and other spending reforms and use the money to bolster welfare and education programs.
 政府・与党だけの話ではない。総選挙で政権選択を国民に問おうとしている民主党は、政権をとっても4年間は消費税を増税せず、無駄の削減など歳出の改革で20兆円を生み出して福祉や教育を充実するための財源に充てるとしている。

We hope to hear a convincing explanation from Minshuto on how this would be possible.
本当にそれが可能なのか。説得力のある説明を求めたい。

What kind of visions do the ruling and opposition parties have about the benefits and burdens their social security reform plans would produce? The upcoming Lower House election will shape up as a real opportunity for voters to choose a reliable government only if both sides offer a clear answer to this question in their election manifestoes.
 安心して暮らせる社会にするために必要な負担と給付の姿をどう描いているのか。与野党がマニフェストにそれを明示して競い合ってこそ、信頼できる政府をつくるための政権選択の選挙になる。

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党首討論 首相の「郵政」弁明は苦しい

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 18, 2009)
Aso unconvincing on Japan Post plans
党首討論 首相の「郵政」弁明は苦しい(6月18日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Taro Aso and Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama faced off Wednesday in the Diet in their second head-to-head debate as ruling and opposition party leaders. The debate mainly focused on the disputed reappointment of Yoshifumi Nishikawa as president of Japan Post Holdings Co. and the fiscal resources needed to meet social security and other costs.
 麻生首相と鳩山民主党代表による2度目の党首討論は、日本郵政の西川善文社長の再任問題と社会保障費などの財源問題を軸に展開された。

Though the two talked at cross-purposes at times, the debate seemed to shed light on contentious policy issues in the run-up to the House of Representatives election.
 議論にかみ合わない部分はあったものの、衆院選に向けて政策上の論点が浮かび上がってきたのではないか。

In connection with the dispute over Nishikawa's reappointment, Hatoyama harshly criticized Aso on his handling of a series of problems involving Japan Post Holdings, saying the prime minister "can't reach judgements, is inconsistent and makes mistakes."
 西川社長の再任問題では、鳩山代表が首相の一連の対応について「判断ができない。ぶれる。間違える」と酷評した。

Aso was accused of being incapable of good judgement because he had left a series of Japan Post-related scandals unaddressed, such as the proposed bundled sale of the firm's Kampo no Yado inns.
The charge of inconsistency apparently referred to the fact that the prime minister had handed over a list of potential candidates to take over from Nishikawa as Japan Post Holdings president to then Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama on the premise Nishikawa would be replaced.
 「判断ができない」は、かんぽの宿の売却問題など不祥事が続発しても事態を放置したこと、「ぶれる」は、首相が社長交代を前提に後継候補のリストを鳩山前総務相に渡していたことを指すのだろう。

The mistake referred to Aso's de facto dismissal of Hatoyama while keeping Nishikawa in his post.
「間違える」は、前総務相だけを更迭したことだ。

===

Pressed to fire Nishikawa

In the Diet debate, Yukio Hatoyama pressed Aso to fire Nishikawa, saying the DPJ is ready to replace the president if it takes power.
 鳩山代表は、「民主党が政権を取れば社長を交代させる」と断言し、首相に社長更迭を迫った。

Regrettably, Aso's response to Hatoyama's demand was far from convincing.
 これに対する首相の弁明は、いかにも苦しいものだった。

The prime minister simply repeated his previous explanation that the government needs to be cautious about intervening in personnel affairs regarding the private sector. He also said he had decided to dismiss only the communications minister because the prime minister's authority to make personnel changes covers only Cabinet members, not employees such as Japan Post Holdings staff.
 「民間に対する政府の人事介入は慎重であるべきだ」と従来の見解を繰り返し、前総務相だけを更迭したのも、首相の人事権が及ぶのは閣僚で、日本郵政には直接及ばないから、と説明した。

Yet, Japan Post Holdings is virtually a state-owned company, as all of the firm's shares are held by the government. The law stipulates that the internal affairs and communications minister holds the right to approve or veto personnel decisions taken by the company.
 日本郵政は、政府が全株式を保有する「国有企業」である。法律にも人事の認可権を総務相が持つと明記されている。

If the company fails to respond appropriately to a business improvement order it was given by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the government should not allow Nishikawa to stay on as the firm's president.
 業務改善命令に対する対応が不十分なら、認可しなければよい。

To act in this way is the administrative body's "responsibility," rather than an "intervention."
それは「介入」どころか、行政の「責務」であろう。

We urge the prime minister to put his foot down regarding Nishikawa's managerial responsibilities.
首相は西川社長の経営責任に明確なけじめをつけるべきだ。

===

DPJ head branded irresponsible

The prime minister did, however, take the lead in the debate on fiscal resources for key projects.
 一方、財源を巡る議論は首相がリードした。

In response to Hatoyama's calls for improved medical services, Aso called the DPJ leader's proposal irresponsible unless clear fiscal-resource options were presented. Aso also stressed that debate on a consumption tax hike could not be avoided.
 医療の充実を掲げる鳩山代表に「財源の話がなければ無責任だ」と切り返し、「消費税の論議は避けて通れない」と強調した。

Hatoyama stated clearly that his party would not raise the consumption tax rate for at least four years. He explained that the 20 trillion yen that would be needed to achieve his party's policies would be generated from general and special accounts totaling 210 trillion yen by eliminating wasteful spending in the budget.
 鳩山代表は、4年間は消費税は上げないと明言した。その代わりに、予算の無駄遣いを徹底的に排除し、民主党の政策を実現するための20兆円は、一般・特別会計を合わせた210兆円から捻出(ねんしゅつ)すると説明したが、説得力のあるものとは言えなかった。

Hatoyama's argument, however, was not persuasive. Of the 210 trillion yen he would target, debt-servicing costs and other expenses that would prove hard to trim total 180 trillion yen.
 210兆円のうち、国債費など削減が困難な費目は計180兆円に上る。

Aso criticized the proposal, saying it would be unrealistic to squeeze 20 trillion yen out of the remaining 30 trillion yen.
We find the prime minister quite right on this point.
残り30兆円から20兆円を出すとの主張は非現実的、と首相が批判したのは当然だろう。

At Aso's behest, it was decided that the two leaders will hold another Diet debate, with the focus to be on tax and fiscal policies, and diplomatic and security issues.
 首相の提案で、税財政や外交・安全保障に絞って党首討論を改めて開催することが決まった。

If the two leaders frequently lock horns in the Diet, it will help clarify contentious issues prior to the next lower house election. We welcome this development.
党首同士の論戦が頻繁に行われれば、おのずと衆院選の争点も明確になろう。この流れを歓迎したい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 18, 2009)
(2009年6月18日01時32分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月17日 (水)

16年夏季五輪:東京開催「賛成」62% 全国世論調査

(Mainichi Japan) June 17, 2009
62 percent back Tokyo's bid to host 2016 Olympics
16年夏季五輪:東京開催「賛成」62% 全国世論調査

A total of 62 percent of people in Japan surveyed in a poll on the 2016 Olympics want Tokyo to host the Games, while 29 percent opposed the capital's bid.
The poll was taken nationwide by the Mainichi Shimbun over the weekend.
 毎日新聞が実施した全国世論調査(13、14日)で、2016年夏季五輪の東京開催について聞いたところ、「賛成」が62%、「反対」が29%となった。

As a result of the recession, many supporters seem to expect the Olympics to bring about desirable ripple effects in the Japanese economy rather than just be a sports gala event.
 賛成の理由は、「東京の都市整備や経済効果が見込める」が46%と最も多く、「日本への理解が深まる」(21%)、「スポーツの振興につながる」(同)、「トップレベルの選手の競技が見られる」(12%)を上回った。
不況が影響したとみられ、スポーツ本来の魅力より五輪の波及効果に期待する回答が目立った。

However, by region, 57 percent of respondents from Tokyo were for holding the Olympics in the capital, while 62 percent from outside Tokyo favored the idea.
地域別では「東京以外」の賛成が62%なのに対し、「東京」は57%と地元で支持が広がっていない。

Meanwhile, 82 percent of the opponents said that the Tokyo Olympics budget should be spent on other fields, such as welfare and medical care. There were more elderly opponents, with 37 percent of those in their 60s against Tokyo's bid.
 一方、反対の理由は「福祉や医療など、ほかの分野にお金を使うべきだ」が82%と圧倒的に多かった。世代別では高齢層ほど反対が多く、60代では37%に上った。

Tokyo and three other cities -- Chicago (the United States), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Madrid (Spain) -- are currently bidding to host the 2016 Olympics, and the host will be decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Oct. 2.
 16年五輪は東京のほか、シカゴ(米国)、リオデジャネイロ(ブラジル)、マドリード(スペイン)の計4都市が立候補し、10月2日の国際オリンピック委員会(IOC)総会で決まる。

An IOC poll in May reported that 86 percent of Madrid residents supported the city's bid to host the Olympics.
このうち、マドリードは5月にIOCの調査で支持率が86%だったと発表している。【湯浅聡】

毎日新聞 2009年6月16日 19時30分(最終更新 6月16日 20時25分)

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厚労省局長逮捕―「政治案件」とは何だった

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 16(IHT/Asahi: June 17,2009)
EDITORIAL: Deepening postage scam
厚労省局長逮捕―「政治案件」とは何だった

Atsuko Muraki, a "rising star" at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, was arrested Sunday over her alleged involvement in a scam involving postal services. The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office suspects she falsified and illegally issued a document that led to systematic abuse of a postage discount system for disability support groups.
 障害者団体向け郵便の不正事件で、厚生労働省の村木厚子局長が大阪地検特捜部に逮捕された。郵便の割引制度の適用団体と認める偽の証明書をつくり、不正に発行したという容疑だ。

The fake certificate was issued to Rin no Kai, a group that was not involved in any activity to help disabled people. The certificate enabled the group to save nearly 2 billion yen in postage costs. Without the certificate, the scam would have gone awry.
 偽証明書は障害者団体としての活動実態のない「凛(りん)の会」に発行され、同会は制度を悪用して20億円近い郵送料を免れていた。証明書がなければこの事件は起きなかった。

Muraki, director-general of the ministry's Equal Employment, Children and Families Bureau, has denied the allegations. Still, it is a matter of grave concern that a senior welfare ministry official responsible for promoting the well-being of the disabled is alleged to have taken part in an unlawful moneymaking scheme.
 村木局長は容疑を否認しているという。だが、障害者を守るべき立場の厚労省幹部が違法な金もうけに加担した疑いをもたれてしまった事実は重い。

After the earlier arrest of a lower-ranking official, the ministry mounted an in-house investigation into the scandal. Sunday's arrest of the career-track bureaucrat indicates the rot at the ministry is widespread. What we don't understand is why ministry officials resorted to breaking the law to grant such a favor to the organization.
 厚労省は係長の逮捕後に内部調査を進めているが、キャリア官僚の逮捕にまで発展し、事件は組織ぐるみの様相を見せている。なぜ不正までして便宜を図ったのか。何より知りたいのはそのことだ。

The system allows organizations supporting the disabled to mail periodicals at deeply discounted rates. But organizations must meet certain criteria to be eligible for the discount, which is intended exclusively for groups that support people with disabilities.
 悪用された制度では、障害者団体が定期刊行物を郵送するときに格安の料金が適用される。それには一定の条件が必要で、そもそも障害者団体でなければ適用されない。

The fabricated certificate in question was issued in June 2004, when Muraki headed the Policy Planning Division of the Department of Health and Welfare for Persons with Disabilities. Tsutomu Kamimura, Muraki's subordinate at that time, was rearrested on Sunday for allegedly conspiring with Muraki to falsify the certificate. Kamimura had been arrested for forging an internal document of approval.
 偽証明書は04年6月、村木局長が障害保健福祉部の企画課長のときに発行された。部下だった係長が部内の決裁文書などを偽造した容疑で特捜部に逮捕され、今回の偽証明書作成では村木局長の共犯容疑で再逮捕された。

Rin no Kai apparently existed in name only. The certificate was issued even though insufficient documentation was submitted. It seems that Kamimura acted alone in fabricating the internal approval document. But the falsified certificate in question not only was in the format of an official ministry document; it also bore the official seal of the chief of the Policy Planning Division. If other officials in the ministry failed to detect the forgery, the ministry's document checking system can only be described as slipshod.
 「凛の会」には活動実態がなく、申請に必要な書類も整っていなかった。決裁文書の偽造は係長の独断のようだが、問題の証明書には企画課長の公印が押され、厚労省発行の体裁が整っていた。ほかのだれも気づかなかったというのなら、あまりにもずさんな審査態勢といわざるを得ない。

What must not be overlooked is the fact that issuance of the certificate was treated as a political matter.
 見逃せないのは、この証明書が「政治案件」として扱われていたことだ。

Apparently, Muraki's supervisor at that time, who formerly headed the department, told prosecutors during questioning on a voluntary basis that the former chief was asked to grant a favor to Rin no Kai by a lawmaker and senior member of Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan). The individual said the request was conveyed to officials in charge of screening applications for the discount system. The group's head, who was once an aid of the Minshuto lawmaker, later visited the ministry to meet those officials.
 村木局長の上司だった当時の障害保健福祉部長は特捜部の任意の聴取に対し、民主党幹部の国会議員から「凛の会」への対応を依頼され、審査を担当する部下らに伝えたと証言したという。この民主党議員のかつての秘書だった「凛の会」会長がその後、厚労省を訪れ、担当者に面会していた。

When Kamimura took over the Rin no Kai case upon being transferred to the position, he was told by his predecessor that it was a "matter concerning a politician."
 再逮捕された係長は、異動にともなって「凛の会」の案件を引き継いだ際、前任者から「政治絡み」であると伝えられたという。

A string of scandals involving government employees prompted the Diet in June 2008 to pass a basic law to reform the civil servants system. One key feature of the law is a provision requiring government employees to keep records of their contacts with politicians. This provision was aimed to inject more transparency in response to public criticism about cozy ties between politicians and bureaucrats.
 公務員の不祥事が相次ぎ、昨年6月に国家公務員制度改革基本法ができた。その柱の一つは、政治家と官僚の癒着が批判される中で、双方が接触した際の記録を残し、透明性を高めることだ。

It would be really outrageous if it turns out the discount system was abused at the behest of a politician.
政治家の理不尽な働きかけで、制度がゆがめられることがあったならもってのほかだ。

If what the former chief of the Department of Health and Welfare for Persons with Disabilities has told investigators is true, the scandal will take on an even more serious hue. The politician involved has an obligation to explain his involvement in a scandal that has implicated senior bureaucrats.
 元障害保健福祉部長らの証言が事実なら、事件の構図はいよいよ深刻だ。政と官はどうかかわり合ったのか。その疑惑について、政治家側にも十分に説明する責任がある。

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イラン選挙―現職圧勝でも見えた変化

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 16(IHT/Asahi: June 17,2009)
EDITORIAL: Iran's presidential poll
イラン選挙―現職圧勝でも見えた変化

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected to a second term in the June 12 presidential election.
 イランの大統領選挙で、アフマディネジャド大統領が再選を果たした。

There were four candidates, but the contest was essentially a duel between the incumbent, a conservative hard-liner on uranium enrichment and other foreign policy issues, and former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, a reformist endorsed by former President Mohammad Khatami.
 4人が立候補したが、実質的には、ウラン濃縮などで対外強硬路線を突っ走る保守派の現職に対して、ハタミ前大統領と同じ改革派を基盤とするムサビ元首相が挑む一騎打ちだった。

Pre-election polls pointed to the likelihood of a runoff between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, with the latter picking up considerable support mainly from urban voters and young people. The high voter turnout of 85 percent indicated the intensity of public interest in this election.
 事前の観測では、都市部や若者層を中心にムサビ氏が支持を広げ、上位2人による決選投票にもつれ込むのではないかと見られていた。投票率が85%という高さになったのも、選挙戦の熱気を物語るものだった。

This is all the more reason why Ahmadinejad's landslide victory in the first round of balloting has raised questions and evoked outrage at home as well as abroad. The Mousavi camp has lodged an official appeal to invalidate the election, claiming it was rigged.
 それだけに、現職が1回目の投票で圧勝したことには、内外から疑問や反発の声が出ている。ムサビ陣営は選挙の不正を訴え、選挙無効を申し立てた。

With Mousavi supporters escalating their protests and clashing with security forces, the nation has fallen into a state of unrest.
支持者による抗議活動も広がっており、治安部隊との衝突など異例の混乱が起きている。

In the 1997 presidential election, reformist Khatami defeated his conservative rivals, earning Iran the image of one of a handful of Middle East nations where democratic elections are held.
 97年の選挙では改革派のハタミ師が保守派を破って大統領に当選し、イランは中東では数少ない民主的な選挙の行われる国と見なされていた。

But after Ahmadinejad assumed the presidency in 2005, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, from which the president himself came, began to exert greater influence over society, with former senior officials being appointed to key government posts such as the chief of police and interior minister. There probably is a connection between this and the public's anger over the election results.
 だが、現大統領の就任以来、出身母体である革命防衛隊の元幹部らが警察長官や内相といった要職に起用され、社会への影響力を強めてきた。今回の選挙結果に強い反発が生まれているのは、そのことと無縁ではないのかもしれない。

Ahmadinejad is known for his vehement anti-Israel and anti-American comments. On the nation's nuclear program, he invited United Nations sanctions in 2006 and caused his country to become isolated from the international community. But he is also committed to fighting poverty at home and has won implicit support from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader--two factors that obviously contributed to his election victory.
 アフマディネジャド氏は激しい反イスラエル、反米発言で知られる。核開発では国連に制裁決議を科せられ、国際的に孤立している。それでも貧困対策に力を入れてきたことや、最高指導者であるハメネイ師から事実上のお墨付きを得たのが勝因だろう。

On the other hand, urban voters were bitterly opposed to Ahmadinejad's dictatorial rule, which suppresses free speech and enforces a stringent Islamic dress code.
 一方で、言論抑圧や服装規制の強化などの強権的な統治に対して、都市住民の反発は大きかった。

Naturally, the United States and European nations were disappointed with the election outcome. But it was well worth noting how Iran's pro-reform voters committed themselves enthusiastically to the Mousavi campaign in hopes of stemming the conservative tide.
 欧米からも失望の声が出ているのは自然なことだ。ただ、改革派の支持者たちが保守の流れを変えようと熱心に活動していたことに注目したい。

We believe these people were galvanized into action by U.S. President Barack Obama's message calling for dialogue with Iran to restore relations severed by the Iranian Revolution. The international community, including the United States, must support this burgeoning public opinion in Iran and keep urging it to change its policy.
 米国のオバマ大統領が対話を呼びかけ、イラン革命以来の断絶状態に風穴を開けようというメッセージを送ったことに呼応したものだろう。米国をはじめ国際社会はそうしたイラン世論の動きを後押ししつつ、政策転換への働きかけを続けなければならない。

As for Ahmadinejad, our strong hope is that he would shed his narrow anti-American nationalism and awaken to his responsibility as the leader of a major nation in the region.
 アフマディネジャド氏には反米の狭い民族主義ではなく、もっと地域大国としての責任を自覚してもらいたい。

With a population exceeding 70 million, Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil producer, and its levels of education, culture and technology are among the highest in the Middle East.
 7千万人を超える人口を抱え、世界第4位の産油国である。教育や文化、技術の水準の高さは中東有数だ。

If Iran is to insist on its right to peaceful use of nuclear power, then it must follow due process to win the understanding of the world, not pursue its nuclear program in a secretive manner and invite suspicions that it is trying to build nuclear weapons.
核の平和利用を主張するのであれば、核兵器の開発疑惑をもたれるような不透明なやり方ではなく、手続きを踏んで理解を得なければならない。

Iran's neighbors to the east, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are politically unstable. To the west is Iraq. Iran has a major role to play in stabilizing the region.
 東の隣には政情不安のパキスタンやアフガニスタンがあり、西はイラクと接する。地域の安定のために果たすべき役割は大きい。

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内閣支持率下落 日本郵政人事で誤断したツケ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 17, 2009)
Aso must act to resolve Nishikawa issue
内閣支持率下落 日本郵政人事で誤断したツケ(6月17日付・読売社説)

The results of The Yomiuri Shimbun's latest survey might have come as a shock to Prime Minister Taro Aso--it indicates he has been driven into a ditch.
 麻生首相も驚く数字だったのではないか。まさに進退窮まると言えるような状況だ。

In the snap survey, the approval rating for the Aso Cabinet was shown to have dropped to 22.9 percent, down 6.6 percentage points from a similar survey conducted just a week ago. Opinion polls by other newspapers show a similar dive.
 読売新聞の緊急世論調査で、麻生内閣の支持率が22・9%に下落した。1週間前の調査と比べて、6・6ポイントも低下した。他紙の世論調査でも、同様の傾向である。

One key cause for the decline in public support is apparent. It is the dismissal of Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama who was opposed to allowing Yoshifumi Nishikawa staying on as president of Japan Post Holdings Co.
 原因は明らかだ。日本郵政の西川善文社長の続投に異を唱えていた鳩山前総務相の更迭にある。

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed by The Yomiuri Shimbun said it had been unnecessary to oust Hatoyama.
本紙の調査では、「更迭する必要はなかった」が65%に上った。

It means the prime minister must now make a clear judgment on management responsibility at Japan Post Holdings if he is to get out of this pinch.
 とすれば、首相がこの窮地から脱するには、まず、日本郵政の経営責任について明確なけじめをつけることである。

Aso said he had dismissed Hatoyama because the minister had caused confusion for the government in its dealings with Japan Post Holdings, and because the government should avoid intervening directly in the personnel affairs of a private company.
 更迭の理由について首相は、政府と日本郵政との間に混乱が生じたこと、民間会社の人事に国が直接介入するのは避けるべきことを挙げていた。

But the public evidently is not satisfied with this explanation.
だが、世論はこれに納得していない。

===

Lack of leadership

According to the Yomiuri survey, many of the respondents attributed the confusion over whether Nishikawa should continue as president to a lack of leadership on Aso's behalf. The prime minister bears a great weight of responsibility for delaying judgment on this issue while seeking a replacement for Nishikawa.
 本紙調査では、今回の人事がこれほど混乱したのは、「首相の指導力不足」にあるとみている人が多い。首相が西川社長交代を模索しながら、ずるずると判断を先延ばしした責任は大きい。

The prime minister's delay in reaching a judgment appears to have worsened the already poor political situation spanning many other issues. Aso should take a long hard look at himself concerning this state of affairs.
 今回に限らず、首相の判断の遅れが政治の停滞に輪をかけているケースが目立つ。大いに反省してもらいたい。

However, the latest political confusion cannot be attributed solely to the prime minister, since the real substance of this problem relates to the management responsibility of Japan Post Holdings, particularly its president, Nishikawa.
 しかし混迷の原因を首相だけに帰すわけにはいかない。問題の本質は、日本郵政とりわけ西川社長の経営責任にあるからである。

The company has been tainted by several scandals including its questionable attempt to sell its Kampo no Yado resort facilities, the nonpayment of Kampo postal life insurance benefits and abuse of a direct-mail discount system meant only for disabled people's organizations.
 保養宿泊施設「かんぽの宿」売却問題はもとより、簡易生命保険の保険金不払い、障害者団体向け郵便料金割引制度を悪用した事件などが相次いでいる。

===

67% want Nishikawa to go

According to the survey, 80 percent of the respondents said there were problems with the attempted bundled sale of the Kampo no Yado hotels, and 67 percent said it was not acceptable for Nishikawa to remain in his position. The figures indicate there is a great sense of dissatisfaction that action has not been taken against those responsible for the above scandals.
 国民の8割が「かんぽの宿」の一括売却には「問題があった」とみている。67%が西川社長の続投について「納得できない」と答えている。不祥事に対する責任が不問に付されていることに、釈然としないのだろう。

"Based on severe self-criticism, it's my duty to accelerate the necessary reforms," Nishikawa said. But, his remark is not sufficient to bring down the curtain on this issue.
 西川社長は、「厳しい反省の上に立って必要な改革を加速していくのが私の責務」と語っている。だが、ちょっと待ってほしい。

Why were the Kampo no Yado facilities, public property in a sense, nearly sold at throwaway prices? Can Japan Post Holdings recover public confidence under the current management?
 なぜ、国民の共有財産といえる施設が二束三文で売られようとしたのか。現体制のままで、日本郵政は、国民の信頼を回復することができるのか。

First of all, Nishikawa has a responsibility to clearly answer these questions.
 西川社長には、何よりも、これに明確に答える責任がある。

Aso said he would make a final judgment on what to do with Nishikawa based on how Japan Post Holdings responds to an operational improvement order it received from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. After carefully examining the response, the prime minister must settle this matter once and for all.
 麻生首相は、西川社長の処遇に関し、総務省の業務改善命令に対する日本郵政の回答に基づいて、最終判断すると言ってきた。きちんと吟味して、この問題に決着をつけねばならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 17, 2009)
(2009年6月17日01時34分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月16日 (火)

発信箱:レスラー=玉木研二

(Mainichi Japan) June 16, 2009
The late, great wrestler Misawa loved to make people happy
発信箱:レスラー=玉木研二

What came to mind upon hearing about the death of 46-year-old professional wrestler Mitsuharu Misawa were the following words written by literary great Osamu Dazai in his novel, "Justice and Smiles."

"'He loved to make people happy, more than anything else.' Would anybody be willing to carve this line into my tombstone?"
 <誰か僕の墓碑に、次のような一句をきざんでくれる人はないか。「かれは、人を喜ばせるのが、何よりも好きであった!」>
 太宰治は小説「正義と微笑」でこう書いた。
 リングに倒れたプロレスラー、三沢光晴さん(46)の悲報にこの言葉を思った。

Only if they possess the ability to capture the fancy of their spectators can pro wrestlers be considered truly professional. A veteran pro wrestler I once interviewed before a match said, "The spectators are the enemy. If they don't enjoy the match, I lose."
 プロレスラーは観衆の感興を勝ち得てプロである。かつて取材したベテランは試合前の控室で「戦う相手は客なんだ。ウケなければ自分たちの負け」と言ったものだ。

Combat sports are about striking out first, and preventing one's opponent from employing their best maneuvers. But in pro wrestling, wrestlers allow opponents to display their signature moves while still coming out on top. Only when a wrestler is able to create a storyline, enveloping the entire venue with a roller coaster of emotions can one be called top-class.
 格闘技は常に先制し、相手の得意技を封じるのが第一だが、プロレスは相手の得意技を存分に出させ、受けてしのぐ。ストーリーを生み、空気のうねりのようなもので会場を包み初めて一流である。

When Misawa joined All Japan Pro-Wrestling (AJPW) led by Giant Baba in the early 1980s, he was sent to Mexico to undergo extensive training. There, he witnessed masked men making use of magnificent aerial techniques to put on battles between "good guys" and "villains," pulling spectators into the center of the excitement. Having learned the basics, Misawa returned to Japan where he became the second Tiger Mask, gathering popularity with his elegant maneuvers and not revealing his identity for several years. After ridding himself of the mask, he became an ace wrestler in the most traditional sense of the word, shrugging off his many wounds to please the fans who came to watch him fight in the ring.
 1980年代初め、ジャイアント馬場の全日本プロレスに入門した三沢さんは、メキシコ修行に出された。マスクマンらが華麗な空中技を駆使して「正邪の戦い」を繰り広げ、観衆を興奮の渦に引き込む。その骨法を学んで帰国、2代目タイガーマスクとなり、数年の間素顔を隠し華麗な技で人気を博した。覆面を取った後は、正統派エースとして、リングを囲む歓呼に絶えぬ傷を押して応えた。

When praise for the virtues of hardball fighting spurred by the rising popularity of combat sports hit a peak, reaching even into the realm of professional wrestling, the Baba-led AJPW declared that it would remain true to the original purpose of pro wrestling, which is to entertain its fans. Misawa inherited the tradition.
 格闘技ブームでプロレス界にもシュート(真剣勝負)がもてはやされたころ、馬場率いる全日本プロレスは<私、プロレスを独占させていただきます>と宣言した。そこには「客を楽しませてこそ」という文字通り体を張っての自負と誇りがあったろう。その流れを三沢さんは継いだ。

The last maneuver made on Misawa was a back suplex, one of the signature moves of the late American pro wrestler Lou Thesz, hailed as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time and a pioneer of modern pro wrestling. (By Kenji Tamaki, Editorial Writer, Mainichi Shimbun)
 最後に受けた技はバックドロップ(岩石落とし)だったという。今のプロレスのスタイルを開いた「鉄人」ルー・テーズが、往時最も得意とした技である。(論説室)

毎日新聞 2009年6月16日 東京朝刊

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パンデミック―地球規模での長い闘い

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 13(IHT/Asahi: June 16,2009)
EDITORIAL: New swine flu pandemic
パンデミック―地球規模での長い闘い

The new strain of swine influenza has become a global pandemic and will inevitably spread even further.
 新型の豚インフルエンザは、世界的な大流行(パンデミック)の段階になった。さらに広がっていくことは避けられない。

Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's director-general, announced the disease is now a pandemic and raised the alert level from Phase 5 to the maximum Phase 6.
 世界保健機関(WHO)のマーガレット・チャン事務局長はこういって、警戒レベルを、これまでの5から最高の6に上げると宣言した。

The last great pandemic, called the Hong Kong flu, struck 41 years ago in 1968. The emergence of a new type of influenza had been seen as inevitable.
香港風邪と呼ばれた1968年の大流行から41年、いずれ出現すると予想されていた新型の流行がいよいよ始まった。

According to the WHO, the outbreak started in Mexico and has now spread to 75 countries and regions. The number of confirmed patients alone has reached nearly 30,000, although the actual figure may be several times as large.
 WHOによれば、メキシコから始まった流行は今や、世界で75の国と地域に及んでいる。感染者は確認されただけで3万人近く。実際にはこの何倍にもなるとみられる。

The WHO decided to raise the alert level due to the constant increase in human-to-human transmissions in Australia, now that the Southern Hemisphere has entered the usual flu-prone season of winter.
 新たに、冬を迎えてインフルエンザの流行期になった南半球のオーストラリアで持続的な感染が起こっていることが、警戒度を上げる根拠になった。

The concern now is a further outbreak and spread of the virus in the many Southern-Hemisphere countries that are relatively poor and lacking in medical resources. The raising of the alert level was meant, in part, to signal an alarm for those countries.
今後、南半球に多い、比較的貧しくて医療資源も乏しい国々で感染が拡大しないかと心配されている。それに警鐘を鳴らす意味もある。

According to the WHO announcements, the severity of symptoms caused by the virus is "moderate." Most people show minor symptoms and recover quickly. There have been about 140 deaths so far. But it is reassuring to note that there are no signs of a sudden surge in the death toll.
 WHOの発表によれば、今回のウイルスによる症状は「中等度」という。ほとんどの人の症状は軽く、すぐに回復している。これまでの死者は約140人で、それが急増する気配はいまのところないというから一安心だ。

On the other hand, it is worrisome that various characteristics of the new swine flu differ from the usual influenza--the high number of patients under age 26 and the tendency for severe cases to occur among patients in their 30s and 40s.
 その一方で、感染が25歳以下に多く重症者が30~40代に目立つなど、ふつうのインフルエンザと違う点は気がかりだ。

The important thing is to start treatment as early as possible. Pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses must be especially careful.
妊婦や、持病のある人が注意をするのはもちろん、健康な人でも感染したら早めの手当てが肝心だ。

We must not let our guard down.
 油断は禁物である。

Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general for health security and environment, suggests that the battle against the pandemic should be likened to running a marathon. The fight against the disease will continue for many years with many ups and downs.
 WHOのケイジ・フクダ事務局長補は、大流行への対策はマラソンと考えるべきだという。いくつかの波を繰り返しながら何年も続く、長い闘いの始まりだ。

In line with the marathon reference, all countries and all people of the world will take part in this race. The virus will infect many of them sooner or later.
 このたとえを使うなら、そこには世界中のすべての国、すべての人が参加する。そして多くの人が遅かれ早かれ感染することになる。

Moreover, this is a marathon in which all countries and individuals must work together to reach the same goal. That is because if the virus rages in one corner of the world, it will eventually end up on our doorsteps.
参加する私たち一人ひとりも、国々も、互いに助け合いながらゴールをめざすマラソンといえるかもしれない。ウイルスが世界のどこかで猛威をふるえば、巡り巡って自らの足元にもやってくるからだ。

With this in mind, Japan must actively participate in international assistance. We must pay attention to developing countries and help them with treatment and research.
 日本も、この観点に立って積極的に国際貢献をしなければならない。途上国に目を向け、治療や調査に手を差し伸べることが求められている。

Of course, Japan must not let its domestic alert slip, either.
 むろん、国内の警戒も怠れない。

We can fully expect a major outbreak in autumn, the usual flu season. A growing number of patients would mean a higher risk of more serious cases. There is no way of knowing how the virus might mutate by then.
インフルエンザが流行する秋には大流行して不思議はないし、患者が増えれば重症者も出るだろう。ウイルスがどんな変化を遂げているかもわからない。

The WHO says countries where the infection has spread should divert their resources from time-consuming inspections and tests to treatment of patients and damage control.
 WHOは、感染が拡大した国では、人手のかかる患者の調査や検査から、治療に重点を移し、被害の軽減に力を注ぐべきだとしている。

Is Japan prepared for this?
 果たして、そのための準備はできているだろうか。

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総務相辞任―剣が峰に立った麻生政権

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 13(IHT/Asahi: June 16,2009)
総務相辞任―剣が峰に立った麻生政権
EDITORIAL: Hatoyama's resignation

Kunio Hatoyama resigned Friday as minister of internal affairs and communications, effectively ending a high-profile dispute over the way the nation's postal services are run. Prime Minister Taro Aso, overriding Hatoyama's objections, decided to retain Yoshifumi Nishikawa as president of Japan Post Holdings Co. As a result, Hatoyama, who had the ministerial authority to approve key management decisions at the government-owned company, submitted his resignation.
 鳩山邦夫総務相が結局、辞任した。
 日本郵政の社長人事で、麻生首相が西川善文社長の続投を認めたのに対し、認可権限をもつ鳩山氏が最後まで納得せず、自ら辞表を出した。

Hatoyama had been bitterly opposed to Nishikawa's reappointment. Six months have passed since Hatoyama started taking potshots at Nishikawa's managerial abilities. Even after Japan Post formally decided to retain Nishikawa as president in accordance with its internal procedures, Hatoyama kept ratcheting up the rhetoric.
Hatoyama's campaign against Nishikawa's reappointment took a bizarre turn, prompting speculation that he intended to form an alliance with the main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), which is led by his elder brother, Yukio.
 鳩山氏の西川社長批判に火が付いて半年がたつ。日本郵政が社内手続きを経て続投方針を決めたのに、攻撃は激しくなるばかり。果ては鳩山氏と、兄が代表に就いた民主党との連携話までおもしろおかしく取りざたされるなど、社会的にも異様な注目を集める「事件」になっていた。
 火事が広がっているのに、火消しを決断できない。

This was not the first time that Aso had behaved indecisively in the face of a problem rapidly escalating in seriousness.
そんな首相の優柔不断は初めてではない。

Hatoyama is the third member of the Aso Cabinet to quit. Aso similarly dithered and waffled on the other two occasions, one of which involved Nariaki Nakayama, then minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism. The other involved Shoichi Nakagawa, who stepped down as finance minister after he appeared drunk at a news conference in Rome after a Group of Seven meeting.
麻生内閣での閣僚辞任は3人目だが、中山成彬国土交通相の時も、「もうろう会見」で辞めた中川昭一財務相の時もそうだった。

Hatoyama was a close ally of Aso, having served as campaign chief during Aso's three attempts to secure the presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. As Aso failed to get Hatoyama to comply with his wishes, new doubts have arisen about the prime minister's already weakened leadership.
 鳩山氏は過去3回の自民党総裁選で首相の選挙対策本部長を務めた盟友である。それなのに首相の意に沿わせることができず、逆に政権の傷口を広げてしまった。

Aso has managed to keep his government afloat despite his weak power base within the LDP. This is due to the majority the party has in the Lower House following the election four years ago, which served as a virtual referendum on then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's initiative to privatize postal services. Aso made a big mistake when he underestimated the seriousness of the rift within the party over the issue of postal privatization.
 党内基盤のもともと弱い麻生政権を支えてきたのは、4年前の郵政総選挙で得た巨大議席だった。その首相の誤算は、郵政をめぐる党内対立の根深さを甘く見過ぎたことだった。

In February, Aso disclosed that he had never been in favor of the privatization policy and suggested a possible change in the current structure of four companies operating under Japan Post Holdings. Aso apparently intended to shift the government's policy away from Koizumi's reform agenda, which has been under growing criticism from party members and the public since he came to power last September.
 首相は2月、「郵政民営化に賛成じゃなかった」と語り、4分社化の見直しにも言及した。首相就任以来、小泉元首相の改革路線に対する党内や社会の風当たりの強さを見て、ハンドルを戻そうとの思惑だったのだろう。

This explains his behavior when Hatoyama moved to block a Japan Post plan to sell off its Kanpo no Yado inns. Aso did nothing to stop it. He also indicated his willingness to go along with growing calls to reconsider postal privatization. But Hatoyama's attempt to replace Nishikawa, who is seen by proponents of postal privatization as a "symbol" of their cause, has proved to be a different story. Hatoyama's stance effectively required Aso to make clear whether he will push forward or roll back the process of privatization. By the same token, it forced him to make clear whether he will continue or undo Koizumi's reform policies.
 「かんぽの宿」の売却に待ったをかけた鳩山総務相の派手な動きを黙認し、民営化見直しの潮流に身を委ねる構えを見せたのもそのためだ。
 だが、民営化推進派が「民営化のシンボル」と呼ぶ西川氏の進退は話が違った。この人事が首相に突きつけたのは、民営化を進めるのか後退させるのか、小泉路線を継続するのか見直すのか、基本的な態度の表明だった。

That was probably a question Aso didn't want to face since he apparently hoped to lead the party into the upcoming Lower House election without losing the support of either side of the debate.
 この二つの潮流の両方に足をかけつつ、きたる総選挙に臨みたいと思い描いていた首相にとって、それは考えたくないことだったに違いない。

Indeed, Japan Post under Nishikawa's tenure has been hit by scandals. Hatoyama was clearly offended by the company's dubious procedures to select the purchaser of its Kanpo no Yado inns and the abuse of a special postage discount system. Still, only one year and eight months have passed since the privatization process started. If Aso decided that Nishikawa was the best hope for reforming the deep-seated bureaucratic culture at the former public entity, it should be described as a reasonable decision.
 「かんぽの宿」をめぐる不適切な経過や郵便不正事件など、西川郵政にも問題はあった。だが、民営化が始まってまだ1年8カ月。色濃く残る官業体質を改革するには西川社長に頑張ってもらうしかない。首相がそう判断したとすれば理解できる。

But there is no denying that the imbroglio has almost fatally weakened support for Aso's leadership among party members on both sides of the debate. Calls may grow within the ruling party for a further postponement of a decision to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election. Some party members may start clamoring for a Cabinet reshuffle or even for Aso's replacement.
 だが、今回の混迷によって、郵政民営化の賛否を超えて、首相の求心力が決定的に弱ったのは間違いない。与党内では解散・総選挙の先延ばし論が広がる可能性がある。内閣改造や首相の交代を求める動きも出てきそうだ。

Voters want a government led by a trustworthy prime minister who can provide effective leadership. The last thing they want to see is an incompetent leader holding onto power amid serious crises confronting both Japan and the rest of the world.
 国民の願いは、信頼できる、実行力のある首相であり、政権だ。内外を覆う危機の中で、いたずらな政権延命は願い下げにしたい。

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「安心会議」報告 提言を建設的議論の出発点に

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 16, 2009)
Use proposals as basis for social peace of mind
「安心会議」報告 提言を建設的議論の出発点に(6月16日付・読売社説)

The direction Japan's social security system should take has been sorted out to a large degree.
 日本が目指す社会保障の方向性が、かなり整理されたのではないか。

A government panel, which has been discussing ways to realize a society that feels secure about its future, came out with its final report Monday.
 政府の「安心社会実現会議」が15日、最終報告をまとめた。

The final report was worked out through discussions on Japan's future among experts in a variety of fields. It presented a set of goals that a future administration, whatever its political framework, should tackle.
 幅広い顔ぶれで日本の将来像を議論し、練り上げたものだ。今後、政権がどのような枠組みになったとしても取り組むべき基本線を示したと言えよう。

The report takes as its foundation the idea of "realizing both peace of mind and vitality" in Japanese society.
 最終報告が根底に据えたものは「安心と活力の両立」という考え方である。

Although the structural reform spearheaded by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had some successes, including the disposal of bad loans held by financial institutions, its policy management, which is characterized as market fundamentalism, caused various institutions, including the social security system, to fray around the edges and fall into disarray. The report suggested that these problems be corrected in a balanced manner.
 小泉構造改革は不良債権処理に成果を上げるなどしたものの、市場原理主義的な政策運営により、社会保障など、さまざまな分野で綻(ほころ)びや混乱を生じさせた。これをバランスよく軌道修正する、ということだろう。

The report discusses social security with a slightly wider concept it describes as "peace-of-mind security."
 報告書は、社会保障の概念をもう少し幅広くした「安心保障」という造語を用いている。

The new concept stresses that the people's sense of security must be pursued in five fields--employment, child-raising, education, health care and retirement--which should be linked seamlessly. In particular, it puts employment security at the center.
 雇用、子育て、教育、医療、老後の5分野で、国民の安心を追求し、切れ目なく連動させる。中心には「雇用の安心」を置く。

===

Steady jobs mean stable society

A stable household economy leads to security in the other four fields and they will all in turn create a foundation that supports the country's economic vitality. There can be no objection to this understanding.
 家計の安定が他の4分野の安心につながり、経済の活力を支える土台となる。この認識に異論はあるまい。

The panel also lists 10 urgently needed measures, which should be implemented by fiscal 2011, a symbolic year that marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the universal public health insurance and public pension systems.
 安心社会実現会議は、2011年度を国民皆保険・皆年金の実現から50年の象徴的節目ととらえ、それまでに行うべき、10の緊急施策も挙げた。

The panel also made various proposals, including, financial assistance to families with small children, expansion of application of social insurance to nonregular workers, improvement of scholarship, guaranteeing of housing for the elderly, introduction of a social security number system, and reorganization of administrative bodies to carry out reforms.
 子育て世帯への経済支援、非正規労働者への社会保険適用拡大、奨学金の充実、高齢者に対する住宅保障、社会保障番号の導入、改革に取り組むための行政組織の再編などが提言されている。

It is necessary to secure funds to implement these urgently required measures on a permanent basis and improve them even further.

===

Covering costs

The report presents a method for transforming the consumption tax into a tax to support social security in which a social security account would be created in the national budget and funded with all the revenues from the consumption tax. The report says such a method is worth discussing.
 こうした緊急施策を恒久化し、さらに充実していくには確固とした財源が必要だ。
 報告書は、国の予算に「社会保障勘定」を作り、そこに消費税をすべて繰り入れて社会保障目的税化する方法を示した上で、「検討に値する」とした。

The problem is whether there exists the political will to make such changes. In this respect, the report proposes establishment of "a roundtable council" in which the ruling and opposition party members discuss the matter in a suprapartisan fashion and reach consensus.
 問題は、実現させる政治の意思である。この点については、与野党が党派を超えて議論と合意形成をすすめるための「円卓会議」の設置を提唱している。

The Diet established a similar joint council of both chambers to discuss social security reform four years ago. Suprapartisan lawmakers at the council attempted to carry out the reform, but failed to hold fruitful discussions, apparently because they simply insisted on their positions without sorting out a compromise they could agree upon.
 国会は4年前にも社会保障改革のための衆参合同会議を設置し、超党派による改革を試みたが、実りある議論にならなかった。一致できる基本線がまったく整理されないまま、主張をぶつけ合ったからではないか。

The latest proposals by the panel could promote constructive discussions on the matter in politics and serve as a starting point for building national consensus. We hope deeper discussions will be held based on these proposals.
 安心社会実現会議の提言は、政治に建設的議論を促し、国民的な合意を形成するための出発点となりうる。これをたたき台に議論を深めたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 16, 2009)
(2009年6月16日01時33分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月15日 (月)

戦国史跡:「歴女」急増中 武将の男らしさに…

(Mainichi Japan) June 14, 2009
New wave of 'history girls' wooed by warlords' masculinity
戦国史跡:「歴女」急増中 武将の男らしさに…

Young women are flocking to significant landmarks from the Warring States period, and college girls are buying up samurai-themed products. Sales of historical books are up, and there have been efforts to revive the publication of paperbacks on warlords. Behind this craze is the surge in "reki-jo" or "history girls." But why now?
歴史をテーマにした書店「時代屋」には「歴女」と呼ばれる女性たちが足を運ぶ=東京都千代田区で2009年5月26日午後、佐々木順一撮影 戦国時代の史跡が若い女性たちでにぎわい、武将をテーマにしたグッズも女子大生らに人気だ。背景にあるのは、歴史好きの女性「レキジョ」(歴女)の増加。歴史を扱う本の売れ行きも好調で、武将を取り上げた文庫本を復刊する動きも出ている。なぜ、いまレキジョなのか。【田村彰子、遠藤拓】 

On weekends, Jidai Shobo, a bookstore specializing in historical books in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, is packed with groups of young women. Most of the shop's customers were men when it first opened in February 2006, but by last year, half were women, of which around 90 percent are in their 20s and 30s.
 06年2月に開店した書店「歴史時代書房・時代屋」(東京都千代田区)は、週末になると若い女性のグループであふれかえる。開店当初は男性客が中心だったが、昨年は男女ほぼ同数に。女性客の9割は20~30代という。

Stationery and mobile phone accessories with family crests of feudal lords line the shelves, with figurines of Sanada Yukimura, the most popular of the warlords, and others also for sale. "I like Kato Kiyomasa," says customer Izumi Sekine, 34, of a warlord who served the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. "There's an almost picture-perfect masculinity about him."
 店内には、大名家の家紋をあしらった文具やストラップなどがズラリ。武将の中で一番人気という真田幸村などのフィギュアも人気を集める。江東区の会社員、関根いずみさん(34)は「加藤清正が好き。絵に描いたような男らしさにひかれます」と笑顔を見せた。

In August 2008, the Kojuro Plaza opened in the city of Shiroishi in Miyagi Prefecture, home of Katakura Kojuro, a senior retainer of the 17th century warlord Date Masamune. Sales of Kojuro-related goods subsequently exceeded 100,000 yen on some days. Visitors to Shiroishi Castle during the week-long holiday in May jumped to 135 percent compared to the previous year, and most recent visitors have been young women, according to city officials. The tourist center in Ueda, Sanada Yukimura's hometown in Nagano Prefecture, has also enjoyed a jump in sales.
 一方、伊達政宗の側近、片倉小十郎の地元・宮城県白石市。昨年8月、JR白石駅前に小十郎プラザを開設したところ、グッズの売り上げが10万円以上に達した日もある。白石城の大型連休の入場者数は前年比135%。市によると、若い女性ばかりが訪れているという。幸村の地元・長野県上田市の市観光会館でも、関連グッズの売れ行きが好調だ。

The publishing business has felt the effects of this boom as well. Monthly magazine "Rekishi kaido" ("History way") had a circulation of less than 70,000 copies five years ago; now it sees sales of 120,000 copies.
 出版界でも影響が広がる。月刊誌「歴史街道」は5年前には7万部未満だったが、12万部に伸びた。

"The proportion of female readers has gone up from 15 percent of total readers to 40 percent," says editor-in-chief Kiyotaka Tatsumoto. The magazine's publisher, PHP Institute, revived publication of the biographies of warlords Date Masamune (1567-1636) and Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578) in late March this year, and plans to revive publication of the biographies of Hosokawa Tadaoki (1563-1646) and Gamo Ujisato (1556-1595) due to popular demand.
辰本清隆編集長は「読者の女性比率が15%から40%に上がった」。PHP研究所は絶版となっていた「伊達政宗」や「上杉謙信」などの伝記を今年3月末に復刊。好評のため「細川忠興(ただおき)」「蒲生氏郷(がもううじさと)」なども近く復刊する。

More unorthodox products have seen a boost in sales as well. There is a constant shortage in stock of Sido brand underwear or men's "armor" underwear, which cost a considerable 9,240 a pair. According to Tokyo-based manufacturer Rogin, about 80 percent of buyers are women.
"As a result of the history boom, our underwear seems to have gained popularity as gifts," says Rogin president Shiro Nogi. "We're planning to come out with a women's line, too."
 変わったものも売れる。男性用の「甲冑(かっちゅう)パンツ」。9240円もするが常に品薄状態で、客の8割は女性だという。制作・販売会社「ログイン」(東京都)の野木志郎社長は「ブームの影響もあり、贈答用で人気が出たらしい。今後は女性用も手がける予定です」。

 ◇生き様のかっこよさ求める女性たち

So how do "reki-jo" differ from the original history buffs, who were mostly middle-aged men?
"In general, men relate battles and the management styles of warlords back to their own corporate environments, and try to use whatever they lessons they can to improve their own work lives," says Tetsuo Owada, a professor emeritus at Shizuoka University who has written over 100 books on the Warring States period.
"But for women, it's more about the admiration they feel towards the warlords' approach to their lives." Owada adds that this may be a backlash against what they see as the selfishness of political and financial leaders today.
 歴女は元祖・歴史ファンの中高年男性とはどう違うのか。NHK大河ドラマ「天地人」で時代考証を担当、戦国時代を巡る著書が100冊を超える静岡大名誉教授、小和田哲男さんは言う。
 「一般的に、男性は合戦や人の使い方を企業社会に結びつけて理解し、実際に役立てようとする。女性は武将の生き様のかっこよさに焦点を当てていく」
 歴女が歴史上の人物に首ったけになる理由について、小和田さんはこうみる。
 「政界でも財界でも、現代の指導者といわれる人々は、自分さえよければとの考えを持った人々が多い。女性たちはそこを嫌っているのかもしれない」

Meanwhile, researcher Tetsuaki Higashida from the Dentsu Communication Institute suggests that women are attracted to the masculinity of these warlords, compared to the more passive modern men that they know. "Gender role reversals have been taking place, with men cooking and women playing golf," he says. "It's not unacceptable nowadays for women to take an interest in warlords, which used to be an area of interest reserved for men."
 一方、電通総研の東田哲明リサーチャーは「男性が『草食化』していると言われ、反動で女性たちは『力強さ』などを持つ戦国武将にひかれるのでは」と分析。「男性が料理をする、女性がゴルフをするなど『男女の逆転現象』も起きている。昔は男性の領域だった戦国武将を女性が趣味にしても、世間に受け入れられやすいことも背景にあるのでは」と話している。

毎日新聞 2009年6月9日 11時46分(最終更新 6月9日 13時03分)

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2009年6月14日 (日)

財政再建新目標 消費税引き上げから逃げるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 14, 2009)
Consumption tax hike is elephant in the room
財政再建新目標 消費税引き上げから逃げるな(6月14日付・読売社説)

Japan's serious fiscal deficits are in the spotlight again.
 日本が抱える財政赤字の深刻さが、改めて浮き彫りになった形だ。

A new target for fiscal reconstruction was included in a draft of basic policies for economic and fiscal reform in 2009.
 政府の経済財政運営の指針となる「骨太の方針2009」原案に、財政再建に関する新しい目標が盛り込まれた。

The pillar of the new target is achieving a surplus in the primary balance at both central and local government levels by the end of fiscal 2019, according to the draft of the government's annual fiscal policy guidelines.
 財政の健全度を示す国と地方の基礎的財政収支を、19年度に黒字化するのが新目標の柱である。

The government earlier said it would try to attain the goal during fiscal 2011. But as the deficit in the primary balance likely will have swollen to about 40 trillion yen by the end of fiscal 2009, mainly due to repeated implementation of fiscal stimulus measures, the government has been forced to put off the target year for realizing the goal to fiscal 2019.
 これまでは11年度での実現を目指していた。だが、度重なる財政出動などで、基礎的財政収支の赤字が09年度末で40兆円近くに膨らむ見通しとなり、一気に8年後へ先送りせざるを得なくなった。

An official estimate showed that it would be impossible to achieve a surplus in the primary balance on the back of a yearly economic growth rate of 1 to 2 percent or by resorting to conventional methods of reining in government spending. This means, according to the estimate, that the government needs to hike the consumption tax to 12 percent from the current 5 percent by raising the rate by a total of seven percentage points--one percentage point every year from fiscal 2011--to accomplish its goal.
 しかも黒字化は、年1~2%の経済成長や従来の歳出削減努力だけでは不可能で、消費税率を11年度から毎年1%ずつ合計7%引き上げて、12%にする必要があるとの試算が公表された。

Another estimate showed that if the rate is raised by only five percentage points, to 10 percent, the government will have to wait until fiscal 2021 to see its goal achieved.
 税率を5%引き上げて10%にするだけでは、黒字化は21年度にずれ込んでしまうという。

Although these are estimates, in the face of such a stern reality, neither the ruling nor the opposition parties can afford to put off any longer discussing the issue of raising the consumption tax rate.
 試算とはいえ、これだけ厳しい現実が明らかになった以上、消費税率の引き上げから、与野党とも逃げるわけにはいくまい。

===

Public debt skyrocketing

Under such critical national fiscal conditions, the government has no choice but to require the public to shoulder heavier burdens in the future.
 将来的に重い負担を国民に求めざるを得ない背景には、危機的なわが国の財政事情がある。

In the fiscal 2009 main and supplementary budgets, the government set bond issuances totaling 44 trillion yen. This almost matches the amount of yearly tax revenues. The outstanding balance of national bonds will approach 600 trillion yen by the end of fiscal 2009.
 09年度の国の予算は、補正を合わせ44兆円もの国債を発行する計画だ。年間税収に匹敵する規模である。09年度末の国債残高は600兆円に近づく。

Outstanding public debt at both national and local levels is about 170 percent of gross domestic product, far higher than the level in other advanced nations, such as United States and European countries, where it lies between 60 and 80 percent.
 国と地方を合わせた債務残高の国内総生産(GDP)比は約170%に及ぶ。欧米の主要国が60~80%にとどまっているのに比べ、際だって高い。

If this situation is left unresolved, it could cause a plunge in government bond prices and rising interest rates, shaking the foundations of the economy. It is a matter of course for the government to propose a new target for fiscal rehabilitation and work toward realizing it.
 この状況を放置すれば、国債の暴落と金利上昇を招き、経済的な大混乱を引き起こしかねない。新しい目標を立て、財政再建に向けて努力するのは当然のことだ。

===

DPJ should face reality

The government and ruling parties should begin paving the way for raising the consumption tax rate soon if the economy recovers, while carefully watching the economic trends.
 政府・与党は、景気の動向を注視しながら、景気が回復すればすぐ消費税率の引き上げに取りかかれるよう、今から準備を進める必要がある。

Meanwhile, if the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan touts itself as ready to take over the administration of the nation, it should realize anew the nation's harsh fiscal conditions and face head-on the issue of raising the consumption tax.
 民主党も、政権奪取を標榜(ひょうぼう)する以上、財政の厳しさを再認識し、消費税率引き上げに、正面から向き合うべきではないか。

The consumption tax is increasingly seen not only as a means for fiscal reconstruction, but also as an indispensable financial resource to cover ballooning social security costs resulting from the declining birthrate and the growing population of elderly people.
 消費税に焦点が当たるのは、財政再建のためばかりではない。少子高齢化の進展で膨らみ続ける社会保障費を賄う財源として欠かせないからだ。

The key to simultaneously undertaking fiscal reconstruction and reinforcing the social security framework lies in the consumption tax. The public should keep in mind the fact that a hike in the consumption tax will stabilize their livelihood.
 財政再建と社会保障充実という二つの問題を同時に解くカギは、消費税が握っている。税率の引き上げが、むしろ生活の安定につながることを、国民は頭に入れておく必要があろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 14, 2009)
(2009年6月14日01時41分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月13日 (土)

北朝鮮制裁決議 中国が実効性のカギを握る

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 12, 2009)
China key to new resolution on N. Korea
北朝鮮制裁決議 中国が実効性のカギを握る(6月12日付・読売社説)

As North Korea continues to carry out dangerous and reckless actions, China is set to play a large and important role in keeping the reclusive state in check.
 危険で無謀な行動を繰り返す北朝鮮をどう抑止するか。大きな役割を担う中国の行動が、重要なカギとなろう。

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote soon on a draft resolution that will enforce stricter financial sanctions and inspections of North Korean cargo following the country's second nuclear test.
 2回目の核実験を強行した北朝鮮に、国連安全保障理事会が貨物検査や金融制裁の強化を盛り込んだ決議案を採決する見通しとなった。

The draft resolution was agreed on by seven nations: the five permanent Security Council members--Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States--Japan, a nonpermanent member of the Security Council; and South Korea, which is not a member.
 決議案は、常任理事国の米露英仏中と非常任理事国の日本、さらに安保理メンバーではない韓国の7か国が合意したものだ。

The Security Council should adopt the draft resolution quickly and unanimously as a display of the international community's strong resolve to take more stringent actions in regard to North Korea.
 北朝鮮に国際社会の厳しい対処姿勢を示すため、安保理は全会一致で早急に採択すべきである。

Resolution 1718 too weak

Three years ago, when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1718, which called on Pyongyang to refrain from conducting nuclear tests and launching ballistic missiles. The resolution also banned the transfer and supply of items that could assist in the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, as well as prohibiting the export of luxury goods to North Korea.
 安保理は、北朝鮮が最初の核実験を実施した3年前、決議1718を採択した。核実験や弾道ミサイル発射を実施しないよう求め、核兵器や弾道ミサイル開発に関連した物品や、ぜいたく品などの移転、調達を禁止した。

That North Korea has behaved in blatant violation of the 2006 resolution by launching ballistic missiles and conducting another nuclear test shows that the sanctions were not thoroughly implemented and that the 2006 resolution existed in name only.
 北朝鮮が今回、弾道ミサイル発射や核実験を強行し、あからさまに決議違反の挙に出たのは、制裁が不徹底で、決議が有名無実であったからにほかならない。

In announcing that it will conduct more nuclear tests and launch more long-range ballistic missiles, North Korea appears to be stepping up its provocative actions. The international community must form a firm alliance to rein in North Korea, which aims to unveil a nuclear arsenal as a fait accompli.
 北朝鮮はさらなる核実験や長距離弾道ミサイル発射を予告し、挑発行為をエスカレートさせる構えだ。核兵器保有の既成事実化を狙う北朝鮮には、堅固な包囲網で厳しく対応する必要がある。

Regarding cargo heading to and from North Korea, the draft resolution calls for U.N. member nations to inspect vessels suspected of carrying banned items within their territories, including seaports and airports. The draft resolution permits cargo inspections on the high seas if the flag state of the vessel extends approval.
 新決議案は、北朝鮮に出入りする貨物について、禁輸品と疑われる場合、港湾や空港を含む自国領内で検査を実施するよう、各国に求めている。公海上でも、船舶が所属する国の同意を得た上でなら貨物検査を実施できるとした。

The draft does not outline specific obligations for each country or allow for mandatory inspections on the high seas. However, the draft carries more definitive clauses than that of Resolution 1718, which asks all member countries to cooperate in taking joint action if necessary.
 各国の義務ではなく、公海上での強制検査を認めたのでもない。だが、あいまいに「必要に応じた協力行動」を求めた決議1718よりは明確な規定となった。

Compromise still step forward

China's involvement is absolutely indispensable, as that nation is North Korea's largest trading partner and shares a border. We hope that China will act appropriately.
 なにより、北朝鮮にとって最大の貿易相手国で国境を接する中国の関与が不可欠だ。積極的な行動を求めたい。

The draft, meanwhile, would implement financial sanctions by not only freezing financial transactions and assets of North Korean entities and individuals to stop them from contributing to the country's nuclear and ballistic missile development, but also would restrict any new loans or financial assistance.
 金融制裁も、核やミサイル開発につながる金融取引や資産の凍結にとどまらず、新規の金融支援や融資の供与規制に踏み込んだ。

While Japan and the United States sought to have stricter sanctions included in the draft resolution, China maintained its cautious stance. The draft resolution, therefore, is the product of a compromise between the three nations. However, its contents should be regarded as a step forward.
 より厳しい内容を目指した日米と、慎重な姿勢を崩さなかった中国との妥協の産物ではあるが、制裁の内容は前進した。

What is important now is the resolution's steady implementation. Japan must waste no time in introducing national legislation to permit the inspections of vessels.
 肝心なのは、着実な履行だ。日本は船舶検査を実施するための法整備を急がなければならない。

Speculation on who will succeed Kim Jong Il as North Korea's leader also has drawn much attention, and the country has been adopting more hard-line policies that place priority on the military. Concerns over Kim's health may underlie this shift. A closer eye needs to be kept on North Korea's precarious state.
 北朝鮮は、金正日体制の後継問題が浮上する中、軍事優先の強硬路線へ傾斜を強めている。金総書記の健康不安が根底にあろう。揺れはじめた北朝鮮情勢を、一層注視する必要がある。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 12, 2009)
(2009年6月12日01時36分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 9日 (火)

対「北」船舶検査 決議実施へ法の不備を正せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 9, 2009)
Fix laws to implement U.N. resolution
対「北」船舶検査 決議実施へ法の不備を正せ(6月9日付・読売社説)

While calling on all U.N. member nations to inspect the cargo of vessels plying to and from North Korea, Japan itself faces a legal barrier to doing so. This is not logical.
 北朝鮮に出入りする船舶などの貨物検査を全国連加盟国に求めながら、日本自身は法の不備で対応できない――。これでは筋が通らない。

A revised draft resolution expected to be adopted soon by the U.N. Security Council in response to North Korea's second nuclear test likely will incorporate such cargo inspections.
Under the new resolution, U.N. member nations would stop vessels plying to and from North Korea and conduct inspections to check whether they are carrying arms and other embargoed goods at sea.
 北朝鮮の核実験を受け国連安全保障理事会が近く採択する制裁決議案に、貨物検査の実施が盛り込まれる見通しとなった。海上では、北朝鮮に出入りする船舶が武器など禁輸品を積んでいないか、船舶を止めて検査する。

The United States is calling for such cargo inspections and Japan supports the measure. On the high seas, however, the new resolution likely will require U.N. member nations to obtain approval from the flag state of the vessels being searched out of consideration for China, which is cautious toward compulsory inspections.
 米国が実施を求め、日本も支持している。ただ、中国の慎重姿勢に配慮し、公海では、船舶の所属する「旗国」の同意が実施の条件となりそうだ。

Japan's Ship Inspection Operations Law is related to the law to deal with contingencies in areas surrounding the country and can only be applied in instances that could develop into a situation under which Japan comes under attack.
 日本の船舶検査活動法は、周辺事態法の関連法であり、武力攻撃に発展する恐れがある「周辺事態」の認定時しか適用できない。

A law on restrictions of maritime transportation of foreign military supplies is limited to being applied in situations where Japan is under military attack, while the Japan Coast Guard Law limits areas in which the JCG can operate to Japan's territorial waters only.
外国軍用品等海上輸送規制法は武力攻撃事態に限られ、海上保安庁法は活動範囲が領海に限定される。

===

Difficult to meet legal threshold

Among those laws, the Ship Inspection Operations Law is relatively easy to apply for cargo inspections on the high seas, but it is a little far-fetched to conclude that the current situation regarding North Korea is a contingency in areas surrounding Japan. The law needs to be revised to enable Japan to conduct the inspections in situations other than contingencies.
 公海で検査活動するなら船舶検査活動法が適用しやすいが、現在の北朝鮮情勢を周辺事態と言い切るのはやや無理があろう。法改正し、周辺事態以外でも活動できるようにする必要がある。

There are other problems.
 ほかにも問題点がある。

The law to deal with contingencies in areas surrounding Japan is designed to provide logistic support to the U.S. military and therefore Japan is currently unable to conduct inspections in cooperation with countries other than the United States. The use of weapons by Self-Defense Force personnel during such inspections is strictly limited to self-defense and even firing a warning shot is not permitted.
 周辺事態法は米軍の後方支援を目的とした法律であるため、米国以外の国と共同して検査活動を行うことができない。武器の使用も自己防衛目的に限られ、警告射撃さえ認められていない。

These restrictions obviously make it difficult for Japan to act in cooperation with other countries. Establishing a new law is an option that could fix all these problems.
 これでは、各国と協調して行動するのは困難だ。これらの問題点をすべて是正するには、新法制定も一つの方法だ。

===

Problem put off

The Japanese government discussed cargo inspections based on the U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution on North Korea after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looked into a plan to participate in inspection activities by acknowledging the situation at the time as a contingency in areas surrounding Japan. Former Democratic Party of Japan leader Seiji Maehara and other DPJ members insisted that establishment of a new law be discussed.
 北朝鮮制裁決議に基づく船舶検査は、2006年の核実験の際にも議論された。当時の安倍内閣は、周辺事態と認定して活動に参加することを模索した。民主党でも、前原誠司・元代表らが新法制定を検討すべきだと主張した。

However, those initiatives later faded away after North Korea returned to the six-party talks on its nuclear program.
 だが、その後、北朝鮮が6か国協議に復帰したこともあって、立ち消えになった。

Pointing out that it is still uncertain whether cargo inspections will be conducted under the new resolution, some people say there is no rush for Japan to deal with the matter.
 今回の決議について、実際に公海で船舶検査を実施するかどうかは流動的で、対応を急ぐ必要はない、という声がある。

However, North Korea is once again poised to launch a ballistic missile. There is a possibility that the U.N. Security Council may adopt a resolution that stipulates even stricter enforcement of the embargo against North Korea, depending on Pyongyang's next move. Fixing the legal pitfall should not be delayed.
 しかし、北朝鮮は弾道ミサイルを再発射する構えをみせている。北朝鮮の出方次第で、より厳格な禁輸執行決議が採択される可能性もある。法的不備の手当てを先延ばしすべきではない。

Implementing effective sanctions against North Korea is the objective. In light of this, the ruling parties and the DPJ should cooperate in formulating a new law. Given that the Diet session has been extended by a significant amount, there should be ample time to take on this task.
 北朝鮮に効果的な制裁を実施することが目的だ。この際、与党と民主党は協力して法案づくりに入るべきだ。国会も長期間延長された。法案を成立させるための時間は十分あるだろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 9, 2009)
(2009年6月9日01時37分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 7日 (日)

test

test

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生物多様性 我々の暮らしの源を守りたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 7, 2009)
Biodiversity supports people's daily lives
生物多様性 我々の暮らしの源を守りたい(6月7日付・読売社説)

We must keep in mind that preventing species from going extinct and maintaining ecosystems helps humanity thrive.
 動植物の絶滅を防ぎ、生態系を維持する。それは人間の豊かな暮らしにもつながるという意識を持つことが大切だ。

The government recently compiled a white paper on biodiversity, the first of its kind. The report sounds an alarm over the extinction of animals and plants taking place globally due to deforestation and other factors.
 政府は、初めてとなる生物多様性白書をまとめた。森林の伐採などにより、動植物の絶滅が世界的に進んでいることに警鐘を鳴らしている。

The natural world could not exist without a rich variety of living creatures. Ecosystems are maintained through myriad links, such as the food chain, in which frogs eat insects and snakes eat frogs.
 自然界は、多種多様な生き物がいるからこそ成り立っている。昆虫はカエルに、カエルは蛇に食べられるといった食物連鎖などでつながりを持ちながら、生態系は維持されている。

If more and more species become extinct and the ecological balance is lost, the lives of human beings will be significantly affected because we count on nature to provide our food. The white paper should serve as a catalyst for people to think about the importance of protecting biodiversity.
 種の絶滅が進み、生態系のバランスが崩れれば、自然界から食物を得ている人間の生活にも大きな影響が及ぶ。白書を契機に、生物の多様性を守っていくことの重要性を考えたい。

Destruction of the natural environment due to rapid land development became noticeable in the nation in the past. But in recent years, development projects that place importance on protection of the natural environment have become common. A pressing issue now seems to be the conservation and revitalization of areas called satoyama--woodlands near human habitats.
 日本でもかつて、国土の開発が急速に進み、自然破壊が顕在化したが、近年は自然保護に配慮した開発が一般化したといえよう。喫緊の課題は、里山の保全・再生ではないだろうか。

===

Satoyama being neglected

Satoyama symbolize the coexistence of people and nature. People living in satoyama areas have used the natural bounty there to support their lives by, for example, making charcoal with trees they cut down and using fallen leaves as fertilizer.
 樹木を伐採して炭にする。落ち葉を肥料に活用する。日本人は人里近くの野山に手を加え、生活に役立ててきた。里山は人間と自然の共生の象徴といえる。

But in recent years, depopulation in mountainous areas and other factors have resulted in the neglect of satoyama. Many satoyama areas have become overrun with bamboo. Satoyama also serve as habitats for indigenous animals and plants. The desolation of satoyama has had a significant impact on ecosystems.
 だが、近年、山間部の過疎化などで里山の手入れが行き届かなくなった。竹に侵食された里山も少なくない。里山は、日本固有の動植物の生息の場でもある。その荒廃は、生態系に大きな影響を及ぼしている。

The Environment Ministry has been conducting research on which satoyama areas require conservation and restoration work, and what kind of restoration work has already been conducted in satoyama. Imaginative efforts are needed to widely promote effective restoration projects.
 環境省は、保全・再生が必要な里山のリストアップと再生事業の事例調査を進めている。効果のある再生事業を広く推し進めていく工夫が求められる。

The proliferation of black bass and other creatures of foreign origin also is a major problem. There have been many cases reported of nonnative species kept as pets breeding after they were abandoned by their owners.
 ブラックバスなど、外来種の繁殖も大きな問題である。ペットとして飼われていた外来種が捨てられ、繁殖するケースも多い。

It is costly to exterminate nonnative species, but discontinuation of such work means returning to the original, problematic state. It will be no easy task to find a good solution to this problem.
 外来種を駆除するには費用がかかる。駆除をやめると元の状態に戻ってしまう。有効な解決策を見つけるのは容易でない。

===

Global perspective needed

This nation is heavily dependent on imported food. Seafood, meat and grain put on the table are harvested from a variety of natural life-forms from around the world. A global perspective is needed when it comes to thinking about how to maintain ecosystems.
 日本は食料の多くを輸入に頼っている。食卓に上る魚介類や肉、穀物などは、世界各地の多様な生物の恵みそのものといえる。世界的な視点で生態系の維持を考える必要がある。

Signatory nations to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which Japan has ratified, set a goal of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. A conference of parties to the convention is scheduled to be held in October 2010 in Nagoya.
 「2010年までに生物多様性の損失速度を顕著に減少させる」――。日本も批准している生物多様性条約の締約国は、この目標を掲げている。来年10月には、名古屋市で締約国会議が開かれる。

International cooperation is essential to protect biodiversity. Strategies and steps must be found to tackle the issue.
 生物の多様性を守っていくには国際協調が欠かせない。その方策を探っていかねばならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 7, 2009)
(2009年6月7日01時53分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 6日 (土)

日本郵政人事 核心は不祥事の経営責任だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 6, 2009)
The buck stops with Japan Post management
日本郵政人事 核心は不祥事の経営責任だ(6月6日付・読売社説)

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama has been making waves with his increasingly vocal opposition to Japan Post Holdings Co.'s

plan to reappoint Yoshifumi Nishikawa as its president.
 日本郵政の西川善文社長の再任に鳩山総務相が反対姿勢を強め、波紋を広げている。

Some are supportive of Hatoyama, saying he has every right to state his position on the issue because as internal affairs and communications minister he has approval authority over personnel affairs. Hatoyama has been upping the ante on the issue, saying he will stick to his position even at the cost of his job.
 人事の認可権を持つ総務相が判断するのは当然とする擁護論がある一方、批判も多い。総務相の発言も「閣僚を罷免されても反対を貫く」とエスカレートしている。

But the fuss serves only to derail discussion over the reappointment. If political considerations color the debate, the essential point of the discussion will be lost.
 これでは議論が拡散するばかりだ。議論に政局的な思惑が重なると事の本質を見失いかねない。

The thrust of the criticism against Hatoyama is that politicians should not interfere in decisions made by private corporations.
 総務相への批判で多いのが「民間の決定に政治が介入すべきではない」というものだ。

But Japan Post Holdings is a special case, in that all its shares are held by the government. In this regard, it would be problematic if the government were

to remain silent at a time when questions have emerged over the operation of Japan Post Holdings.
だが、日本郵政は政府が全株式を保有する特殊会社だ。業務内容に疑義があるのに何も口を挟まないようでは、かえって問題だろう。

There is also an argument that the process of postal privatization will be set back if Nishikawa, who led preparations for the establishment of the company, is ousted as its president.
But this argument is illogical. The fact is that Hatoyama has repeatedly said he wants to see Nishikawa replaced precisely because he wishes to speed up the privatization.
 「郵政民営化を後退させる」という指摘も、論理に飛躍がある。総務相は「社長交代は民営化推進のため」と繰り返している。

===

Sale of inns was opaque

The main bone of contention in the wrangling over Nishikawa's reappointment is the lack of transparency in the process of Japan Post Holdings deciding to sell Kanpo no Yado inns to an Orix Group company.
 この問題の核心は、「かんぽの宿」をオリックスに売却しようとした手続きに不明朗な部分があったことだ。

An investigation by the communications ministry found a large number of irregular practices in the process of selecting the Orix real estate company, including verbal reporting of important matters. A third-party panel set up at the request of Japan Post Holdings also identified a long list of problems in connection with the sale of the Kanpo no Yado inns, including inadequate safekeeping of documents related to the bidding for the inns. The panel criticized these failings as "extremely inappropriate."
 総務省の調査で、重要事項が口頭で伝達されていたなど数多くの不備が明るみに出ている。日本郵政が設置した第三者検討委員会も文書管理の杜撰(ずさん)さなどを列挙し、「著しく不適切」と断じた。

Those who call for Nishikawa's reappointment point out that the investigations did not uncover any illegalities.
But putting to one side the question of whether there was any illegality in the process of selling the Kanpo no Yado inns, the buck stops with Nishikawa, the top manager of Japan Post.
 西川社長の再任を支持する人たちは、これらの調査で違法行為がはっきりしなかったことを理由に挙げるが、違法行為の有無とは別に、経営者としての責任は厳然として残る。

The Democratic Party of Japan and two other opposition parties have filed a criminal complaint against Nishikawa, claiming he was complicit in the sale of the Kanpo no Yado inns at knockdown prices. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office has accepted the complaint. Debates over whether there is evidence of illegality in the process of deciding on the sale of the inns can wait until the prosecutors conclude their investigation.
 民主党など野党3党が「売却額が不当に廉価だった」として西川社長を刑事告発し、東京地検が受理している。違法性の有無は今後の捜査を見守ればよい。

===

Firm must put house in order

In addition to the controversy over the sale of the inns, the Japan Post group has become engulfed in other scandals, including the abuse of the postal discount system for disabled people and Japan Post's delayed investigation into the nonpayment of postal life insurance when it was a public corporation.
If such scandals surfaced in an ordinary company, the top manager would be forced to resign.
 ほかにも障害者向け割引制度を悪用した不正ダイレクトメール事件や、簡易生命保険金の不払い調査を放置した問題など、不祥事が次々と発覚している。普通の企業なら、経営者は引責辞任に追い込まれているところだ。

Japan Post Holdings has not yet responded to a business improvement order issued by the communications ministry. Deciding on the reappointment of Nishikawa at such a time is mixing up business priorities. At its own initiative, Japan Post Holdings should take the logical step of putting the presidential

appointment issue on the back burner and respond quickly to the business improvement order.
 総務省の業務改善命令にも、日本郵政は回答していない。そんな段階で西川社長再任の人事案を決めたのは、手順としておかしいのではないか。人事案は自発的に白紙に戻すのが筋だろう。
 業務改善命令に対する回答を急ぐのも当然のことである。

In its response to the order, will the company answer all the questions the ministry posed? Will the response present effective ways to prevent a recurrence of similar problems? Most importantly, will the response earn the understanding and acceptance of the public, who are effectively shareholders of Japan Post Holdings?
 回答は、総務省から指摘された様々な疑問点にきちんと答えているか。実効性の上がる再発防止策が含まれているか。何より、実質株主である国民の納得を得られる内容となっているか――。

The debate over who should assume the presidency of Japan Post Holdings can start afresh after we see how Japan Post Holdings responds to the business improvement order.
 回答を見て、議論を整理し直すべきだ。 

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 6, 2009)
(2009年6月6日01時38分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 5日 (金)

足利事件 決め手となったDNA再鑑定

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 5, 2009)
Fresh DNA test results open can of legal worms
足利事件 決め手となったDNA再鑑定(6月5日付・読売社説)

Prosecutors have agreed to a retrial for a man serving a life sentence for the 1990 murder of a 4-year-old girl, and who was freed from prison Thursday

afternoon. As the evidence that had led to his conviction had crumbled, this was certainly the right thing to do.
 検察が再審の開始を認め、受刑者を釈放した。無期懲役となった根拠が崩れた以上、当然の対応である。

The Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office submitted to the Tokyo High Court a written opinion in which prosecutors unprecedentedly approved a retrial

of the case.
 東京高検が、「足利事件」の再審開始を容認する異例の意見書を東京高裁に提出した。

After the high court conducted fresh DNA tests, it was found that Toshikazu Sugaya's DNA did not match that of dried body fluid found on the murdered

girl's shirt. It is becoming increasingly likely that Sugaya, whose life sentence was finalized long ago, is not the culprit.
 高裁がDNAの再鑑定を行ったところ、無期懲役が確定した男性の型と、殺害された女児のシャツから検出された型が一致しなかったためだ。男性は犯人では

ない可能性が極めて高くなった。

The prosecutors agreed to halt Sugaya's sentence and released him. This is an unprecedented situation and it indicates that Sugaya will be acquitted.
 検察は、男性の刑の執行を停止し、釈放した。前例のない事態である。検察が事実上、無罪を認めたものといえよう。

The court should swiftly decide on the start of a retrial.
 裁判所は速やかに男性の再審開始を決定すべきである。

===

Old tests too unreliable

The murder occurred in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, in 1990. The following year, police conducted DNA tests on Sugaya, who had been a presence on

the police's investigative radar. The police concluded the DNA found on the victim's shirt matched that of Sugaya's. When told of the DNA match, Sugaya

confessed to the killing.
 事件は1990年に栃木県足利市で起きた。警察は翌年、捜査線上に浮かんだ男性のDNA鑑定を実施した。結論は、女児のシャツから検出されたDNA型と一

致するというものだった。結果を聞き、男性は犯行を自供していた。

In 2000, the Supreme Court dismissed Sugaya's appeal--the first case in which the Supreme Court acknowledged a DNA test as admissible evidence.
 最高裁は2000年、男性の上告を棄却した。DNA鑑定に証拠能力があると認めた初めてのケースだった。

There is no doubt that investigative authorities and courts overestimated the accuracy of the DNA test. There also are doubts regarding the police

interrogations. A thorough probe should be conducted.
 捜査当局や裁判所に、DNA鑑定への過信があったことは間違いあるまい。取り調べにも疑問が残る。徹底した検証が必要だ。

The murder occurred shortly after DNA testing had been introduced and accuracy was considerably less reliable than it is now. Accuracy was dramatically

improved with the introduction of a new DNA analyzer in 2003. It is thought that more than 4,000 DNA tests were carried out before this new device went

into use.
 事件当時は、DNA鑑定が導入されて間もないころだった。精度は今より格段に低かった。精度が飛躍的に向上したのは、新たな分析装置が導入された03年

以降だ。それ以前に実施されたDNA鑑定は4000件を超えるという。

===

New precedent set

This case may influence other criminal cases as doubts over the credibility of past DNA tests could surface. Courts and prosecutors should be flexible in

conducting fresh DNA tests and other necessary measures.
 今回の問題により、他の事件でも、鑑定の信ぴょう性に疑念が生じることもあるだろう。裁判所や検察は、再鑑定の実施などについて柔軟に対応していくべきだ

It remains a fact that DNA tests, with their improved accuracy, serve as an important instrument in criminal investigations. As well as helping to find

suspects, it should not be forgotten that DNA tests also serve as a fail-safe against false convictions.
 精度が向上したDNA鑑定が、捜査の有力な武器であることに変わりはない。犯人の割り出しとともに、冤罪(えんざい)を防ぐ防波堤の役割を持つことも忘れては

ならない。

It is crucial that police incorporate increasingly advanced scientific technology into their investigations with the aim of obtaining definitive evidence.
 警察が、決定的な証拠を得るために、進歩する科学技術を捜査に取り入れるのは欠かせない。

However, it is risky to rely excessively on forensic results. In particular, the credibility of a fledgling technology needs to be carefully assessed. Sugaya's

case has taught us this much.
 だが、科学捜査の結果に過度に依存するのは危うい。特に、導入間もない技術については、信用性を慎重に判断する必要がある。今回の問題の教訓といえよ

う。

Forensic results have the potential to become points of contention in trials. With the beginning of the lay judge system late last month, lay judges might

be pressed to decide on the credibility of forensic results. Lay judges need to comprehensively weigh all the facts before them without being constrained by

just one form of evidence.
 科学捜査による鑑定結果が、公判の争点となることもある。裁判員制度が始まり、裁判員も鑑定結果が信用できるかどうか、判断を迫られる局面があるだろう。

 一つの証拠にとらわれず、すべての証拠を総合判断する。裁判員にはそれが求められている。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 5, 2009)
(2009年6月5日02時09分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 4日 (木)

知的財産:日中両政府が専門チーム設置 保護へ体制作り

(Mainichi Japan) June 4, 2009
Japan, China agree to set up working team to address intellectual property violations
知的財産:日中両政府が専門チーム設置 保護へ体制作り

In a bid to combat the flood of imitations of Japanese products in China, the Chinese and Japanese governments have agreed to jointly set up a working team to discuss intellectual property rights and seek solutions to problems.
 日本製品の模倣品が中国で大量に出回るなどの事態を受け、日中両政府は、知的財産の保護や問題解決に向けた体制作りを話し合うワーキングチーム(WT)を合同で設置することで合意した。

It is the first time for Japan and China to establish a framework for discussions between the two countries specifically addressing intellectual property rights, including such issues as imitation goods and trade mark violations.
模倣品や商標登録の侵害など知的財産権全般について、日中間で専門の協議への枠組みを設けるのは初めて。

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai and Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming are expected to exchange memorandums on the working team during high-level Japan-China economic talks to be held in Tokyo on Sunday. The working team is expected to hold its first meeting this year, with participation from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and other related government bodies from both countries.
7日に東京で開かれる「日中ハイレベル経済対話」の際、二階俊博経済産業相と陳徳銘商務相が設置の覚書を交わす。【犬飼直幸、赤間清広】

Up until now, even if Japanese companies sued Chinese business over intellectual property problems, repeated violations had occurred, and court action did not lead to a fundamental solution to the problem.
 知的財産権の問題ではこれまで、侵害を受けた日本の企業などが中国側企業を個別に提訴しても、再犯が繰り返され、根本的解決に結びつかなかった。

Intellectual property rights are handled by several government ministries and offices in both countries, and it is hoped that holding a meeting in a single location will make cross-sectional discussions on intellectual property possible.
WTは年内に初会合を開き、経産省や中国の商務省など両国の関係省庁が参加。知的財産権の窓口は、両国の複数の省庁にまたがるため、一堂に会することで横断的な協議が可能になる。

Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, the Chinese government has stepped up efforts to protect intellectual property rights, but calls have been made for further countermeasures as methods of producing imitation goods become more sophisticated.
 中国政府は、01年の世界貿易機関(WTO)加盟を契機に知的財産権保護の強化に乗り出しているが、模倣品製造の手口が巧妙化するなど対策が求められる。

In the area of trademark registration, China's trademark law forbids the registration of widely known area names, but there are endless applications for registration of names like Yokohama and Matsusaka-gyu (a famous type of beef in Japan).
商標登録でも、中国の商標法では広く知られた地名などの登録は禁じているが、「横浜」「松阪牛」といった名称や、それに類似した商標の無断申請が後を絶たない。

Aomori Prefecture's objection to "Aomori" as a registered trademark was settled after close to five years of negotiations, but soon afterward similar trademarks surfaced, and the situation appeared to be a game of cat-and-mouse.
 「青森」の文字が登録申請された青森県の場合、5年近い交渉で異議申し立てが認められたが、直後に類似した別の商標が見つかるなど、いたちごっこが続く。

"Even if businesses or local bodies filed lawsuits or took similar measures, there was a limit to how far it could go, as it involved a lot of time and money, and the companies being sued often didn't implement corrective measures," said a high-ranking Japanese government official commenting on the situation.
 政府高官は「企業や自治体では訴訟などを行ってもコストや時間がかかり、相手側の企業が改善策を行わないことが多く限界があった」と説明する。

Through the working team, it is hoped that Chinese authorities will boost surveillance of illicit business, and plans will be advanced to maintain a system under which disputes can be settled quickly, with increased support for companies and local bodies that have been subject to damage.
 WTには中国当局も巻き込んで不正への監視を強化し、紛争の早期解決に向けた体制整備を進め、被害を受けた企業や自治体に対する支援を強化する狙いがある。

==============

 ■ことば

 ◇知的財産権
 特許権や実用新案、商標、デザインの意匠権といった工業所有権に、著作権やノウハウなどの無形資産を加えた総称。経済のソフト化に伴い、競争力の源泉として重視されるようになり、近年では地名や地域ブランドを保護する動きも広がっている。政府は02年に「知的財産基本法」を成立させるなど保護・強化に力を入れ、模倣品などの問題を改善するため、体制の遅れが目立つ新興国に是正を求めている。

毎日新聞 2009年6月4日 東京朝刊

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出生率1・37 確かな回復軌道に乗せるには

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 4, 2009)
More support needed to increase fertility rate
出生率1・37 確かな回復軌道に乗せるには(6月4日付・読売社説)

The nation's fertility rate has edged up, continuing a trend.
 日本の出生率が少し上昇した。

According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry statistics for 2008, the estimated number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime stood at an average 1.37, up 0.03 points from the previous year.
 2008年の人口動態統計によると、女性が生涯に産む子どもの数の推計値である「合計特殊出生率」は前年を0・03ポイント上回り、1・37になった。

The figure has now risen for three straight years.
 3年連続の上昇だ。

Last year, 1.09 million babies were born and about 730,000 couples got married, both figures showing a small increase from the previous year.
昨年は約73万組が結婚し、109万人の赤ちゃんが生まれた。いずれも前年より、わずかながら増えている。

However, the fertility rate still remains at an extremely low level of below 1.4. In addition, the increased number of babies born in 2008 is mainly attributable to the extra day gained due to it being a leap year.
 ただし、1・3台という出生率の水準が極めて低いことに変わりはない。出生数の増加も、昨年がうるう年で1日多かったことが要因である。

===

Recession may see births fall

The drastic economic deterioration that began in the second half of last year may prove a major obstacle to improving the fertility rate in the future.
 また、昨年後半からの急激な経済情勢の悪化は、今後の出生率の回復に、大きな足かせとなるかもしれない。

The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research has projected that the fertility rate will remain around the 1.2 level over the next 50 years or so, and the nation's population will continue to decline.
 国立社会保障・人口問題研究所は、これから半世紀の間、出生率はほとんど1・2台で推移し、総人口は減り続けるとの見通しを示している。

Is it possible to reverse this projected fall?
 この予測を覆せるかどうか。

Now that the fertility rate has somehow recovered to nearly 1.4 after hitting a record low of 1.26 in 2005, we are at a crossroads.
05年に1・26まで落ち込んでいた出生率を、ともかく1・4近くまで戻した今が正念場だろう。

Breakdowns of the 2008 data on births showed that the number of couples having a third child rose. We believe this is a positive sign--an increasing number of parents who already had two children decided to have one more to realize their dreams.
 08年の出生を細かく見ると、第3子として生まれた赤ちゃんが増加した。すでに2人の子を育てつつ、「もう1人」との望みをかなえる親が増えているのは、明るい兆しである。

On the other hand, the number of the first and second children declined from the previous year. This drop can mainly be attributed to population shrinkage in the age demographic in which a woman might be expected to have a baby.
We suspect, however, that the current social and economic situations are making many young people reluctant to marry, and even if they do so, they find they are barely able to raise one child due to social and economic reasons.
 一方で第1子、第2子は前年より減った。その時期の若い親にあたる世代の減少が要因だが、結婚をためらったり、結婚しても子どもは1人が精いっぱいだったりする社会的、経済的状況が、依然としてあるからではないか。

It will be necessary to extend more support in the fields where policy measures have proven to be effective, while taking bold new steps in areas where effects are yet to be seen.
 施策の効果が表れ始めたところは一段と後押しし、効果の見えないところは新たな手を大胆に講じていくことが必要だ。

Nevertheless, the budgets allocated to measures to address the declining birthrate have been far from sufficient.
 にもかかわらず、少子化対策の予算は乏しい。

While member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development earmark, on average, 2 percent of their gross domestic product for child- and family-related assistance, the figure is a mere 0.8 percent in Japan.
経済協力開発機構の加盟国は平均してGDP(国内総生産)の2%を子育て支援や家族関連に支出しているのに、日本は0・8%にとどまる。

The government has determined that more than 2 trillion yen in fiscal resources will be needed to pay for much-needed support measures for child-rearing.
 政府は、子育て支援を充実するには2兆円強の財源が必要だとしている。

This amount could be secured with the revenue raised by a one percentage-point consumption tax rate rise. In this respect, the consumption tax should be renamed the social security tax as soon as possible, with a view to tackling the declining birthrate.
これは1%の消費税で確保できる。少子化対策からも社会保障税の実現が急務である。

===

Give minister increased powers

The current administrative system in place to address the declining birthrate does not function well, either.
 行政の体制も現状は機能的ではない。

Although the state minister in charge of declining birthrate answers to the Cabinet Office, the current minister has both a limited budget and number of officials at her disposal. The minister, in effect, plays the role of coordinator of opinions among the concerned ministries and agencies, including the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
内閣府に少子化相が置かれてはいるが、独自の予算やスタッフは少なく、厚生労働省はじめ多くの関連官庁の調整役にとどまっているのが実態だ。

If the government intends to regard taking measures to stem the declining birthrate as a key agenda for the nation, it will be necessary to create a strong organization that has the power and means to tackle all of the various issues involved.
 少子化対策を国の最重要課題と位置づけるならば、関連施策に一体となって取り組む、強力な組織が必要だろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 4, 2009)
(2009年6月4日01時30分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 3日 (水)

延長国会 衆院選へ実のある政策論戦を

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 3, 2009)
Earnest debate vital in extended Diet session
延長国会 衆院選へ実のある政策論戦を(6月3日付・読売社説)

The current Diet session has been extended by 55 days through July 28, and it looks highly likely that Prime Minister Taro Aso will dissolve the House of Representatives before the extended session ends.
 国会会期が7月28日まで55日間延長された。
 この期間中に麻生首相が衆院解散に踏み切る公算が大きいとみられている。

We hope the ruling and opposition parties will earnestly engage in policy debates during the extended session, including holding discussions on securing stable funding for the social security system and national security. Such debates would provide voters with a basis for considered judgment of each party's platform ahead of the coming general election.
次の総選挙に向け有権者に正しい判断材料を示すためにも、延長国会で、与野党は、財源論や安全保障など政策論戦に努めてほしい。

The Diet will discuss important bills, including those related to the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget, an antipiracy bill and a bill to revise the National Pension Law. The ruling parties must ensure these bills are passed during the current Diet session.
 国会では2009年度補正予算関連法案、海賊対処法案、国民年金法改正案などが積み残されている。いずれも重要法案ばかりだ。与党は、今国会で確実に成立させなければならない。

Aso sought the extension of the current Diet session in an apparent attempt to expand his options regarding the timing of the dissolution of the lower house for the general election and to keep the political initiative.
 首相が長期の会期延長を図ったのは、それだけ衆院解散・総選挙の時期の選択肢を広げ、政局の主導権をとる狙いからだろう。

The Democratic Party of Japan, on the other hand, is seeking the dissolution of the lower house at an early date.
 民主党は、早期の解散を求めている。

We hope the main opposition party, which has said it will not resort to employing tactics to unnecessarily prolong Diet 審議引き延ばし戦術は取らないとしている以上、粛々と法案の審議を進めてもらいたい。
deliberations, will commit itself to holding straightforward deliberations on the bills.

===

Paying for pensions

With the lower house election now in sight, each political party likely will move to shape their respective campaign platforms.
 衆院選が射程に入る中で、各党の公約づくりも本格化しよう。

In the lower house election, the parties should debate basic policy differences and their vision for the future of this nation.
 衆院選で争われるべきは、各党の基本政策や、国の将来ビジョンである。

To pull this country out of the worst postwar economic crisis, it is right and proper to actively carry out fiscal stimulus measures in the short term and make all-out efforts to prop up the economy.
 戦後最悪の経済危機を脱するには、当面、積極的な財政出動で景気の回復に全力を挙げるのは当然だ。

In the medium- to long-term, however, the question of how to secure stable resources to fund the social security system and other spending must be addressed.
ただ、中長期的に社会保障費などの安定財源をどう確保するかは極めて重要な課題である。

The Liberal Democratic Party, which has said it expects it will take three years for the country's economy to fully recover, has said it will raise the consumption tax rate to fund the social security system while trimming government expenditure at the same time after this three-year period ends.
 自民党は、景気回復に「全治3年」を見込み、その後は歳出削減と同時に消費税率の引き上げで対応する方針を示している。

The DPJ, for its part, maintains it will secure 20 trillion yen by eliminating wasteful spending--a policy that lacks precision and detail.
 民主党は、「税金の無駄遣いの一掃」で20兆円を確保するというが、具体性に欠ける。

Concerning the consumption tax, DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama said there is no need to debate a consumption tax hike for the next four years. This stance can only serve to heighten concerns over the prospects for the nation's social security system.
消費税の問題も、鳩山代表のように「4年は議論する必要はない」というのでは、社会保障制度の先行きへの懸念を高めるだけだ。

===

Security a key issue

Discussion focusing on the specifics of national security policy also is necessary.
 安全保障政策も、もっと具体論に踏み込んだ議論が必要だ。

DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada has, for example, proposed an international treaty that would make Japan and the Korean Peninsula a nuclear weapon-free zone. Okada has urged the United States to abandon the preemptive use of nuclear weapons and said Japan will step out from under the U.S. nuclear umbrella if such a treaty comes about.
 例えば、民主党の岡田幹事長は朝鮮半島と日本を「非核兵器地帯」とする条約を提唱している。米国に核の先制不使用を求め、条約が実現すれば「日本は米国の核の傘から出ることになる」という。

Okada also said North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons is a precondition. However, Pyongyang has thrown the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty into the garbage bin. Simply proposing a treaty can never remove this nuclear threat.
 北朝鮮の核放棄が前提だともいうが、相手は核拡散防止条約まで反故(ほご)にした国だ。条約を唱えるだけでは核の脅威は解消しない。

Furthermore, China and Russia are nuclear-armed. China's missiles are locked on Japan as well. Japan's peace and security would not be guaranteed should the country unilaterally step out from beneath the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
 しかも、中国とロシアは核を保有したままだ。中国のミサイルは日本にも照準を合わせている。米国の「核の傘」から日本が一方的に脱して、日本の平和と安全が本当に保てるだろうか。

If Aso and Hatoyama make clear their differences on these matters through head-to-head debates in the Diet, these differences likely would become key points of contention in the lower house election campaign.
 首相と鳩山代表による党首討論などを通じ、これらの主張の違いが明確になれば、それが衆院選の争点にもなるだろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 3, 2009)
(2009年6月3日01時34分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 2日 (火)

GM破綻 “売れる車”が再建のカギだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 2, 2009)
Building new top seller key to GM recovery
GM破綻 “売れる車”が再建のカギだ(6月2日付・読売社説)

General Motors Corp., the giant automaker that has long been a symbol of the United States, finally collapsed. Though it will be effectively nationalized, the biggest of the Big Three auto companies still faces a rocky road ahead toward rehabilitation.
 米国の象徴だった巨大自動車会社が、ついに経営破綻(はたん)に追い込まれた。国有化されて再建を目指す前途も多難だろう。

GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday. This marks the largest manufacturing corporate failure in history.
 米ゼネラル・モーターズ(GM)が、連邦破産法11章の適用を申請した。製造業として史上最大の倒産だ。

GM's bankruptcy filing followed a similar step taken by Chrysler LLC at the end of April. It is a historic situation that two of the Big Three automakers are in bankruptcy.
 4月末のクライスラーを含め、米3大自動車(ビッグスリー)の2社が、相次いで法的整理される。歴史的な事態である。

GM has reigned over the world auto industry for nearly 80 years. However, the Detroit-based company has been in the red for several years since it got a slow start in the race to develop fuel-efficient small cars and lost competitiveness. The financial crisis and the global recession apparently finished off the ailing company.
 GMは80年近くも世界の業界トップに君臨した。だが、燃費の良い小型車の開発に出遅れ、競争力を失って、赤字経営が続いていた。金融危機と世界不況にとどめを刺された形だ。

Although even U.S. President Barack Obama could not rescue GM, he did engineer a softer landing for the company with a set of measures to alleviate the bankruptcy shock as much as possible.
 オバマ米大統領も救済できなかった。しかし、破綻ショックを少しでも回避しようと、軟着陸に向けた手を打った。

First, the federal government led the drafting of a restructuring plan and helped convince the United Auto Workers union to agree with GM's proposals to reduce labor costs. The government also helped the company obtain agreements from a majority of creditors in negotiations to greatly reduce its debts.
 まず、政府が再建計画作りを主導し、全米自動車労組(UAW)と労務費削減で合意させた。巨額債務の削減交渉でも、大半の債権者の合意を取り付けた。

===

Swift resurrection

Obama is said to have set up a scenario in which GM will go through the court process in 60 to 90 days and be rehabilitated quickly with the help of the arrangement his government has made.
 大統領は、こうした事前調整をテコに、60~90日間で法的整理を終え、スピード再生させるシナリオを描いている。

The point of the restructuring plan is the establishment of a new GM that would inherit only the company's prime assets, including profitable brands, and jettison underperforming operations from the bankrupt company. The federal government will temporarily place GM under state ownership by acquiring 60 percent of new stocks in a recapitalized company.
 再建計画のポイントは、不採算事業を切り離し、収益が見込めるブランドなど、優良資産だけを引き継ぐ新GMを設立することだ。政府が新GM株の6割を保有し、一時的に国有化する。

At the same time, the federal government will invest an additional 30 billion dollars (2.8 trillion yen) into GM. The amount of government financial support will reach 5 trillion yen in total. This shows Washington's strong determination to rehabilitate the automaker as quickly as possible.
 政府は同時に、約300億ドル(2・8兆円)を追加融資して支援する。支援の総額は約5兆円に達する。早期再建に向けた米政権の強い意志の表れといえよう。

But, a leaner GM as a result of drastic restructuring warrants no optimism that the company would be quickly rehabilitated. U.S. taxpayers also are wary of injecting a huge amount of public money into the automaker.
 しかし、大規模なリストラでGMをスリム化しても、速やかに再建できるかどうかは楽観できない。巨額の公的資金投入に対して、米国民の視線も厳しい。

===

Future cloudy

The biggest challenge is whether GM can regain competitiveness by developing popular sellers such as ecologically friendly cars. Automakers around the world are in fierce competition. Sales of automobiles in the United States are declining. The new GM will have to tread a thorny path.
 最大の問題は、エコカーなどの「売れる車」を開発し、競争力を回復することができるかどうかだ。世界各社との競争は激しい。北米での販売台数も急減している。新GMにはいばらの道だ。

There is concern the GM bankruptcy may cause a chain reaction of collapses among connected companies such as auto parts manufacturers since the auto industry has a wide variety of affiliated industries. Japanese auto parts manufacturers, too, will be unable to avoid adverse impacts.
 自動車産業はすそ野が広く、部品メーカーなど取引先企業の連鎖破綻も懸念される。日系部品メーカーへの影響も避けられまい。

To avoid economic confusion, the U.S. government needs to strengthen official support for companies connected to GM. The Japanese government could be asked to assist Japanese parts makers.
 混乱の回避へ、米国政府は、関連企業への公的支援を強化することが必要だ。日本政府も、日系部品メーカーへの救済策を求められる局面もあるのではないか。

If corporate failures and joblessness increase in the United States, it will be another blow to the U.S. economy, which is just getting out of the worst period of the economic crisis. It will be an ordeal for the world economy, too.
 米国で企業倒産や失業が増大すれば、ようやく最悪期を脱しつつあるとされる米国経済に、再び打撃を与える。世界経済にとっても試練となろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 2, 2009)
(2009年6月2日01時32分  読売新聞)

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2009年6月 1日 (月)

海自P3C派遣 海賊対策で他国を助ける番だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 1, 2009)
P-3C aircraft vital boost for antipiracy mission
海自P3C派遣 海賊対策で他国を助ける番だ(6月1日付・読売社説)

Japan's antipiracy efforts off Somalia are set to enter a new stage.
 ソマリア沖の海賊対策が新たな段階に入る。

Two Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C patrol aircraft were dispatched to Djibouti. The two planes are expected to start warning and surveillance flights as soon as early this month in conjunction with the protective activities of the two MSDF destroyers convoying Japan-linked commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.
 海上自衛隊のP3C哨戒機2機がジブチに派遣された。6月上旬にも、アデン湾での護衛艦2隻による日本関係船舶の警護活動と連動して、上空からの警戒監視飛行を開始する予定だ。

The destroyers have been active in the area since late March. But the two vessels can only actually properly protect three vessels at a time on average and so have been able to convoy fewer than a quarter of all the Japan-related ships sailing in the area.
 護衛艦の活動は3月末に始まった。ただ、実際に警護した船舶は1回平均3隻強で、現地を航行する日本関係船舶全体の4分の1以下にとどまっている。

If cargo ships arrive at their destinations behind schedule, expenses can mount up for the operator. Many ships likely are forced to sail through the area without escort despite the risk posed by pirates, when their schedule cannot be matched to that of the MSDF destroyers.
 民間船舶は、目的地への到着が遅れれば費用がかさむ。護衛艦の航行日程と合わない場合、多少の危険を承知のうえで警護なしで航行する例が多いようだ。

With their higher mobility, the P-3C planes can surveil a wider swath of ocean in support of the destroyers' activities.
 P3Cは、その機動力でより広い海域をカバーし、護衛艦の活動を補完する意義を持つ。

More importantly, the P-3C activities can contribute to ensuring the safety of foreign ships by tracking pirate ships and providing the information via radio to both cargo ships and the appropriate naval vessels in the area.
 さらに重要なのは、海賊船の動向を監視し、関係国の艦船や民間船舶に無線で情報提供することで、他国の船舶の安全確保にも貢献できるということだ。

===

Dispatch slowed

Due to problems in coordinating the mission domestically, the departure of the destroyers was delayed. Until their dispatch, Japan had been totally dependent on other countries to protect Japan-linked ships
 日本は、国内調整の遅れから、護衛艦の派遣までに時間を要し、その間は、日本関係船舶の警護は他国任せという状態が続いた。

Currently, four other countries--France, Germany, Spain and the United States--have three to five P-3C flying patrols off the coast of Somalia. The participation of the two MSDF planes in their activities would strengthen the antipiracy forces.
 現在、日本以外では、米仏独スペインの4か国が現場海域で3~5機のP3Cを飛行させている。海自の2機が加わることは、大きな“戦力”強化となる。

The MSDF has about 100 P-3Cs and the planes have an established reputation as capable patrol aircraft. The government intends to dispatch two P-3C planes in four-month shifts. The international community will welcome Japan's activities.
 海自はP3Cを100機近く保有し、その哨戒能力の高さは定評がある。今後も4か月交代で2機を派遣し続ける方針で、国際社会からも歓迎されよう。

 P3Cの警戒監視区域を他国と分担するとか、より効果的な活動に向けての選択肢も広がろう。

At the same time, the number of pirate incidents off Somalia this year was 125, already exceeding the 111 recorded for all of 2008. The damage done by pirates has been rapidly increasing, especially off the eastern coast of Somalia where the security is relatively poor.
 一方で、今年のソマリア沖での海賊被害は125件で、すでに昨年1年間の111件を上回った。警護の手薄なソマリア東方沖での被害が急増している。

More than 20 countries have dispatched navy ships to the area, but their effectiveness has been limited. Relevant countries need to be ready for a long battle with pirates and get serious about antipiracy measures.
 20か国以上が艦船を派遣しているが、その効果が出ているとは言えない状況だ。関係国は長期戦の覚悟で、海賊対策に本腰を入れる必要がある。

===

New laws vital

For the MSDF to operate more effectively, it is important to pass into law earlier an antipiracy bill under deliberation at the House of Councillors.
 海自がより効率的な活動を行うためには、参院で審議中の海賊対処法案の早期成立が重要だ。

As Japan has sent the destroyers to the Gulf of Aden on an antipiracy mission under the authority of the maritime police action provision of the Self-Defense Forces Law, their duties are basically limited to the protection of Japan-linked ships. The passage of the bill would expand the mission's scope by enabling the Self-Defense Forces to protect foreign vessels and broaden the rules on the use of weapons by the SDF.
 現在は、自衛隊法の海上警備行動に基づく派遣のため、任務は日本関係船舶の警護に基本的に限定される。法案が成立すれば、日本だけでなく、他国の船舶も守れるし、武器使用権限も拡大する。

With the enactment of the bill, when the destroyers are asked for help by other countries' ships, they would be allowed to respond more appropriately by firing warning shots or even by opening fire on suspicious vessels in addition to simply warning them off with loudspeakers.
 護衛艦が他国の船から救援要請を受けた際も、大音響発生装置で不審船を追い払うという対応にとどまらず、警告・船体射撃を含め、より的確な対応ができる。

Under the new law, there would be a wider range of alternatives for more effective activities, such as coordinating the warning and surveillance work of the P-3Cs with other countries.
 P3Cの警戒監視区域を他国と分担するとか、より効果的な活動に向けての選択肢も広がろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 1, 2009)
(2009年6月1日01時41分  読売新聞)

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