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2009年6月18日 (木)

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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