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2009年6月16日 (火)

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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