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2009年8月 2日 (日)

発信箱:プリウスの国では=福本容子

(Mainichi Japan) August 2, 2009
More than one way to measure development
発信箱:プリウスの国では=福本容子

I recently had the opportunity to talk about Japan's declining birth rate to 10 government officials from developing countries in Africa and other areas who had arrived on a study and training trip.
 日本の少子化について話す機会があった。相手はアフリカなど途上国から研修に来ている政府関係の人たち10人。

I explained that in Japan, there had been an increase in singles in their 30s and their 40s as a result of late marriages or people simply remaining unmarried. At this point one of them asked, "Are you talking about people who don't get married but live together?"
最近は晩婚や非婚で30代、40代でも独身というケースが増えています、と説明していたら質問が出た。「結婚はしないけど同居って人たちですか」

The question didn't mean much to me. When I replied, "Well, there are lots of people living alone," they gasped.
 ? 何を聞かれたのか、ぴんとこなかった。「1人暮らしが多いですけど」と答えたら「えー!」となった。

"That would be too lonely. It's impossible," one of them said.
「寂し過ぎ。あり得ない」--。

"There are also people who live with their parents," I added -- but that only increased the confusion. I tried explaining that people lacked the money, but the explanation wasn't persuasive; Japan is a country that provides economic support to their countries. I carried on to explain the phenomenon of "herbivore men" who show less interest in the other sex -- but such an image may have seemed strange to people from Africa, where there are many real herbivores.
「親と同居、もあります」と付け足すと、困惑はもっと深まった。お金の余裕がないから、と言ってみたけれど説得力がない。彼らの国に経済支援している日本だ。「草食系男子」の説明も試みた。だけど本物の草食系がいっぱいのアフリカから来た人には不思議なイメージだったかも。

In Zambia, the home country of 35-year-old Grivas Shimonde Chiyaba, the visitor who asked me whether the people don't get married but live together, relatives apparently build settlements and live like a large family. They share meals, and educate their own children and their siblings' children together. For the children "cousins" and "siblings" are one and the same.
 「結婚しないで同居か」と質問したキヤバさん(35)の国、ザンビアでは親類が集落を作り大家族のように暮らしているそうだ。食事はみんなで分け合い、兄弟の子と自分の子を一緒に育てたりする。子供にとっては「いとこ」と「兄弟」が同じ。

"It is a glory and pride to have lots of children," Chiyaba says. "It's not a case of 'Whose child is it?' The person who can raise the children raises them."
「子供がたくさんいることは誇り、自慢です。『誰の子』ではなく、育てられる人が育てます」

Louis Kwame Amo, 35, the guest who said it was impossible for people to live alone, was from Ghana. He has three children. One of them he took from an acquaintance who said he couldn't raise his child because he was too poor.
 1人暮らしを「あり得ない」と言ったアモさん(40)はガーナ出身。3人いる子供のうち1人は、知り合いが貧しくて育てられないというから引き取った。

"It's not unusual," he says.
「別に珍しいことではありません」

The visitors toured a factory producing Prius hybrid vehicles for Toyota Motor Corp. a company that has risen to the status of the world's top vehicle producer by volume with its top technology. But now the country where that company is located is fretting over how it can see an increase in childbirths.
 彼らはプリウスを生産しているトヨタの工場も見学した。最高の技術で世界一多く車を造るまでになったトヨタ。けれどそのトヨタの国は今、どうしたら子供がもっと生まれるのかと悩んでいる。

People talk about economic development. I wonder what each of the visitors will be thinking when they return to their countries where their families are waiting for them. (Column by Yoko Fukumoto, Business News Department)
 経済の発展って。どんな思いを抱え、それぞれ家族が待つ国に帰るのだろう。(経済部)

毎日新聞 2009年7月31日 東京朝刊

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