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2009年8月27日 (木)

09総選挙 年金再建―対立超え安心の制度を

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 26(IHT/Asahi: August 27,2009)
EDITORIAL: Pension reform debate
09総選挙 年金再建―対立超え安心の制度を

The ruling and opposition camps have been at loggerheads over the issue of pension reform. The main bone of contention has been whether the system should be maintained in its current form or reconfigured into one financed by taxes. However, both sides are showing signs of changing their stances ahead of Sunday's election.
 現在の制度を維持するか、税方式に転換するかで与野党が対立してきた年金制度改革。総選挙を通じて、論争に変化の兆しが出てきた。

The ruling bloc had until recently insisted that the current system will be financially viable for 100 years. But it has finally admitted the program is fraying at the edges. The ruling camp has promised to shorten the minimum required period of enrollment to 10 years from the current 25 years. It has also pledged to tackle the problem of people who are not eligible to receive pension benefits, or are eligible for only a very small amount.
 「今の制度は百年安心」としてきた与党側が、さすがに制度のほころびを認め、年金を受けるのに必要な最低加入期間を現行の25年から10年に短縮することや、無年金・低年金者対策に取り組むと言い出した。

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which has offered to guarantee minimum pension benefits financed by tax, has made it clear the system it envisions basically offers universal coverage as a social insurance program with premiums and benefits proportional to income. The proposed minimum guaranteed benefits would only serve as an income supplement for low-benefit recipients. The DPJ says it would create a new revenue agency to ensure premiums are collected from everybody obliged to pay.
 一方、税財源による最低保障年金を主張してきた野党側も、民主党が基本はあくまでも全国民が入る所得比例年金であり、社会保険方式であることを明確にした。最低保障年金は、年金額の少ない人のための補完的な役割で、新たに歳入庁をつくって保険料の徴収を徹底する、との考えだ。

Through their pension proposals, both camps seem to be aware of the need to stem the rise in people failing to pay into the system and providing support for people with no benefits, or small ones at best.
 共通しているのは、広がる保険料の未納を食い止めなければいけない、無年金・低年金の人への手立てが必要だ、という問題意識だ。

About 40 percent of the people covered by the national pension program, which was originally designed for self-employed people, are now employees, mainly nonregular ones. The fixed-sum premiums for the program represent a heavy financial burden for these employees. This is believed to be one factor behind the growing nonpayment of premiums.
 自営業者が中心と考えられてきた国民年金は今や、加入者の4割が非正社員を中心として雇われている人たちだ。こうした人たちには定額保険料の負担感は大きく、保険料の未納が広がる一因と言われている。

The average of the monthly benefits under the program is 48,000 yen, well below the full benefit of 66,000 yen. Under the current system, monthly benefits are reduced if the overall revenue falls due to a contraction of the working-age population or if the total payouts grow because of prolonged life expectancy. There is actually no guarantee of minimum pension benefits.
 一方、満額で月6万6千円と言われる国民年金の平均受給額は4万8千円。現役世代が減って収入が減ったり、平均寿命が延びて給付総額が膨らんだりすれば、毎月の受給額はさらに目減りする仕組みになっていて、最低保障の底が抜けている状態だ。

What is the best remedy for these problems with the current system? There is undoubtedly room for constructive bipartisan talks since the ruling and opposition camps are proposing changes basically in the same direction, even though there are still differences in their approaches.
 今の制度が抱えるこうした問題点をどう解決していくのか。手法になお隔たりはあるものの、大きな見直しの方向は同じなのだから、話し合いの余地はあるはずだ。

But the reform blueprints of both camps leave many important questions unanswered. As for promised relief for people facing retirement with no or scant pension benefits, the ruling camp has yet to say how much would be provided to whom. The DPJ's reform plan says nothing about what to do with the premiums paid by self-employed workers. The opposition party also leaves it unclear what would be done for people with no benefits or small ones during the transition to the new system.
 与野党とも、詰め切れていない問題が目立つ。与党の無年金・低年金対策は、どんな人たちにどれくらいの年金額を保障するのか。民主党の改革案は、自営業の人たちの保険料をどうするのか。新制度への移行期間中、すでに無年金・低年金の人たちをどうするか。いずれもあいまいだ。

To ensure fairness in the burdens and benefits, it is necessary to introduce a taxpayer identification number system to track people's income accurately. As the nation's population ages further, public spending on health and nursing care is bound to keep growing. The crucial question of how much taxpayer money should be devoted to pension reform requires an answer based on a comprehensive perspective that takes into consideration the future prospect of social security spending.
 負担と給付の公平性を担保するには、納税者番号制を導入して正確な所得を把握することも必要だ。また、これから超高齢社会を迎え、医療や介護の費用も膨らむ。そうした社会保障費の見通しも踏まえて、年金改革にどれだけの財源を充てるのか。総合的な判断が求められる。

That makes it all the more important for all parties to make efforts to swiftly set up a forum so that national debate on pension reform can be started soon after the Lower House election.
 だからこそ各党は、選挙後に国民的な議論を始められるよう、早期に協議の場をつくる方向で努力すべきだ。

A pension system demands long-term stability. The people's interests would not be served if every national election results in radical changes to the system.
 年金制度は長期にわたる安定が必要だ。選挙のたびに仕組みが変わるのでは、国民が不利益をこうむる。

Whichever party wins a public mandate in Sunday's Lower House election, it is the political responsibility of the entire legislature to build a pension system that can serve as a solid foundation for social security in this aging society. We hope to hear constructive, nonpartisan debate.
 どの政党が政権を担うにせよ、高齢社会の安心の土台となる年金制度をつくることは政治全体の責任だ。対立を超えた建設的な議論を望みたい。

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