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2009年6月16日 (火)

「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.

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.

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.

The report takes as its foundation the idea of "realizing both peace of mind and vitality" in Japanese society.

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.

The report discusses social security with a slightly wider concept it describes as "peace-of-mind security."

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

(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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