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2009年8月 8日 (土)

社説:子育て支援 これが審判を左右する

(Mainichi Japan) August 8, 2009
Political parties try to appeal to voters through child-support policies
社説:子育て支援 これが審判を左右する

The highlight of the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) election manifesto is the 26,000-yen monthly allowance to be given per child to households until the child graduates from junior high school. It is approximately five times the amount currently provided by the government, and will cost 5.3 trillion yen a year.
 民主党の公約の目玉は、0歳から中学卒業まで1人月2万6000円の子ども手当だ。現在の児童手当の給付総額の約5倍、年5.3兆円が必要になる。

The DPJ proposes that spousal deductions and dependent deductions for income tax be eliminated to generate the necessary funds. This will result in a 511,000 yen increase in revenue for a family with an annual income of 3 million yen and two children, while a family with no children will receive 19,000 yen less than it does now. An additional characteristic of the policy is that, like in various European nations, the allowance is not income-tested.
所得税の配偶者控除、扶養控除の廃止などで財源を捻出(ねんしゅつ)するといい、年収300万円の世帯で子が2人だと年51万1000円の増収、子がいないと1万9000円の減収になる。欧州各国と同様に所得制限がないのも特徴だ。

While there are criticisms that the proposal lacks a reliable source of funds and is merely a cash handout program, gross childcare benefits under the current policy are a mere 0.2 percent of the nation's GDP, a whole digit less than those of major European nations. Childcare allowances plus childbirth and child rearing expenses comprise about 3 percent of the GDP in Britain, France and Sweden, while the figure is 0.75 percent in Japan. The DPJ proposal would finally bring Japan up to the standards already set by other countries.
 財源があいまい、ばらまきとの批判はあるが、現在は児童手当の総給付費が対国内総生産(GDP)比で0.2%に過ぎず、欧州各国より1けた少ない。出産や保育費用などを含めた対GDP比は、イギリス、フランス、スウェーデンが3%前後、日本は0.75%だ。民主党案はようやく各国と同じテーブルで議論ができるという水準なのだ。

Existing policy provides financial support in the form of childcare allowances to households with children until they graduate from elementary school, and also offers aid to single-mother households and households with children who have disabilities. The policy was meant to support children whose families had difficulty caring for them on their own, and childcare allowances were initially begun as support for poor households with many children.
 現在の経済的支援は0歳から小学校卒業までを対象にした児童手当のほか、母子世帯や障害児のいる世帯への手当がある。家族だけでの養育が難しい子の支援という意味合いが強く、児童手当も貧しい子だくさん世帯への支援から始まった。

The system has been revised several times, but the government has generally worked around its budgetary constraints by shifting funds around -- putting a limit on children's ages when it broadened the range of eligible children, and abolishing additional tax exemptions for dependents to secure more funds when the age limit for eligible children's ages was extended.
何度か制度改正されたが、対象児童を広げると年齢を制限し、年齢を広げると扶養控除の加算措置を廃止して財源に回すなど、予算の枠の中でのつぎはぎに終始したとも言える。

In addition to its promise to make preschool free in three years, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has pledged to focus on improving childcare services and to make shorter working hours compulsory for families raising children. Komeito has also announced its plans for free preschool education and the fundamental expansion of the childcare allowance.
 今回、自民党は就学前の幼児教育費を3年かけて無償化し、さらに保育サービスの集中整備、子育て期の短時間勤務の義務化などを打ち出した。公明党も幼児教育の無償化のほか、児童手当の抜本拡充などを発表しており、与野党こぞって子育て支援策をアピールする展開となった。

The basic principle underlying Japan's traditional approach to child rearing policies is the notion that children be brought up by their own families. In contrast to the ruling parties, who, even as they try to step out of that framework are promoting realistic improvement measures, the DPJ's intention appears to be an ideological shift toward child rearing as a society-wide effort.
 「子育ては家族が行うもの」というのがわが国の伝統的な子育て政策の原則で、与党側はそこから踏み出しつつも現実的な改善策を掲げるのに対し、民主党案は「社会全体で子育てをする」という思想的な転換の意図を読み取ることができる。

It goes without saying that the demise of large families and the rise in two-career and single parent households has been a contributing factor to such trends. Furthermore, such issues as pensions, medical services, and elderly nursing care have the potential to change their course depending on how the next generation chooses to handle them. In other words, child rearing comprises the foundations for the continuous running of a nation, and as such, it is significant that the DPJ counts its childcare policies among the most important in an election that will determine whether it takes over the government.
大家族の崩壊、共働きや母子・父子世帯の増加が背景にあるのは言うまでもない。また、年金、医療、介護などは次世代次第でどうにでも変わり得る。いわば子育ては継続的な国家運営の「土台」とも言うべきもので、政権交代をかけた選挙で民主党が重要政策のトップに位置づけた意味は大きい。

Naturally, comprehensive measures addressing such issues as balance between career and child rearing and the expansion of childcare services are necessary for the public to be able to raise children without anxiety. However, not many innovative ideas have been brought up on this front. Cash handouts are probably not enough for the idea that "children are a shared fortune" and calls for "investment in the next generation" to gain wide support as policy.
 もっとも、安心して子育てするためには、仕事と育児の両立、保育サービスの充実など総合的な対策が求められるが、こちらはあまり目新しいものがない。「子どもは国民の共有財産」「次世代への投資」という思想が政策として広く支持されるためには、現金給付だけでは足りないのではないか。

毎日新聞 2009年8月2日 0時03分

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