« 法科大学院 少数精鋭で質の高い教育を | トップページ | 民主党政権公約 現実路線化がまだ不十分だ »

2009年7月27日 (月)

社会保障 与野党は「負担」を率直に説け

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 27, 2009)
Frank talks over burdens needed to sustain welfare
社会保障 与野党は「負担」を率直に説け(7月27日付・読売社説)

The nation's social security system surely cannot be sustained if things remain as they are. Such a sense of crisis likely is shared by many voters.

The number of elderly people, who form the top layer of the demographic pyramid, is expected to grow rapidly, while the layer comprising the working generations that support elderly people will get steadily thinner due to the declining birthrate. Although social security spending continues to grow at a pace of 1 trillion yen per year, it appears that it will be difficult to secure the fiscal resources necessary to meet this cost. This is the situation we are facing.

Whichever party takes power after the upcoming House of Representatives election, the population "body" that is growing increasingly obese will cause the social security "outfit" to rip apart unless the system is fixed as soon as possible.


Parties must cooperate

Among a number of related issues to be tackled, a particularly urgent task is securing adequate medical services. As medicine is directly linked to people's lives and health, this issue has been a source of anxiety felt by people in connection with the nation's social security system as a whole.

To solve the problem of the shortage of doctors, both the ruling and opposition parties have proposed that the number of medical school students enrolled be increased. But increasing the number alone will not solve the problem.

The Yomiuri Shimbun last year put forward a comprehensive reform blueprint that includes a systematic allocation of doctors in a carefully planned manner. Using this proposal as a basis for discussion, we hope that parties will compete to hammer out their own medical reform plans--not mere lists of measures, but comprehensive programs.

The nation cannot afford any further delay in pension system reform, either. The government and ruling parties have proposed that the current systems be improved with an enhanced minimum safeguard function.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan also has offered a reform plan to allow, under a unified basic system, pensioners to receive benefits in proportion to their income levels during their working years, with minimum guarantee pension benefits added on.

The ruling and opposition parties differ on this issue, but it is still possible for them to search for common ground for discussions.

Rather than merely finding fault with each other's policies, both sides should try to find basic points of agreement on social security policy that they can build on in a suprapartisan manner.


Sales tax hike inevitable

For policies to be implemented, it is indispensable to have a revenue source. The ruling and opposition parties have mounted different arguments to try to persuade the public of the need to shoulder more burdens.

The DPJ has said it will not raise the consumption tax rate for four years while suggesting that revenues equivalent to those raised from the current 5 percent consumption tax, irrespective of any future increase in the rate, be used for pension system reform at some stage in the future. Regarding revenue sources for other welfare measures, the DPJ said it would manage to raise the necessary funds by cutting wasteful budget spending and other means.

The Liberal Democratic Party, meanwhile, indicated that it will consider raising the consumption tax rate in three years if the economy recovers. But this proposal has been deemphasized ahead of the general election.

If lawmakers avoid discussions on the consumption tax, which is the only stable source to finance the social security system, all policy pledges on this issue--no matter how appealing they may sound--likely will be end up being mere slogans.

The extent to which they can honestly and frankly explain to voters the need to assume increased burdens will be a barometer for judging which party or which candidate is responsible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2009)
(2009年7月27日01時37分  読売新聞)


« 法科大学院 少数精鋭で質の高い教育を | トップページ | 民主党政権公約 現実路線化がまだ不十分だ »





« 法科大学院 少数精鋭で質の高い教育を | トップページ | 民主党政権公約 現実路線化がまだ不十分だ »