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2011年8月 6日 (土)

子ども手当廃止 与野党協調への足掛かりだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 6, 2011)
Changing allowance system a step toward cooperation
子ども手当廃止 与野党協調への足掛かりだ(8月5日付・読売社説)

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has finally decided to withdraw a major component of its campaign pledges for the 2009 general election, through which the DPJ came into power.

Secretaries general and policy chiefs of the DPJ, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito agreed Thursday to essentially scrap the current child-rearing allowance system.

It may be too late, but the de facto abolition of the child-rearing allowance system has overcome one of the hurdles to enacting a bill that will allow the government to issue deficit-covering bonds.

The DPJ leadership should closely unite party members and make a greater effort to get the bill through the Diet as soon as possible.

The original DPJ plan for the child-rearing allowance system was to pay households with children of middle school age or younger 26,000 yen per child per month.

If this plan had been fully implemented, it would have cost the government 5.5 trillion yen per year.

The current system provides only half the original figure, but the government has difficulty continuing even that.  現在は半額の支給にとどまっているが、それを続けることさえ困難だった。

From the beginning, the child-rearing allowance system has been an impossible policy that lacked financial resources.

In addition, the government now needs a huge amount of funds to repair the damage caused by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

We think it is a matter of course to scrap it.


Introduction of income cap

The current child-rearing allowance system is based on a stopgap law to extend the child-rearing allowance law enacted in fiscal 2010 for six months.
Since this stopgap law expires in September, a new special measures bill will be enacted during the current Diet session to alter the present child-rearing allowance system, according to the three-party agreement.

From October through March, the modified system under the special measures law will provide 15,000 yen per child younger than 3 years old and the same amount for third and subsequent children from 3 to 12 years old.

Households will receive 10,000 yen per month for first and second children aged from 3 to 12 and those in middle school, according to the agreement.

In fiscal 2012, the child benefit law will be revised and an income cap introduced.

This means there will no longer be a uniform provision of benefits, a major principle of the current child-rearing allowance system; it will also expand the previous child benefit system from the time of the LDP-Komeito coalition government.

It will be effective not only in countering the falling birthrate but also as an economic measure to provide needier households with more benefits by considering specific financial situations and the number of children in such families.

If the child-rearing allowance system is modified based on the three-party agreement, 500 billion yen will be saved to spend on repairing damage caused by the March 11 disaster.

We think this is a realistic policy change.


Dole-out policy to be reviewed

Although details of the income cap have been left for future discussions, it is still significant that the both ruling and opposition parties were able to reach an agreement on a major facet of the nation's social security system.

DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada claimed that the ideals of his party's child-rearing allowance system were maintained in the agreement.

Okada appears to have said this because he expected opposition from diehard members of the DPJ who stubbornly try to keep every element of the party's manifesto intact.

However, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Okada have already admitted the failure of the DPJ manifesto and apologized to the public.

If Okada readily caters to the opinions of the fundamentalists, it will cause serious problems in the future.

The DPJ also should drastically review its other dole-out policy measures besides the child-rearing allowance.  民主党は、子ども手当以外のばらまき政策も、抜本的に見直すべきだ。

This will promote constructive cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties.

This pragmatic policy line must be taken up by the administration that succeeds Kan's government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 5, 2011)
(2011年8月5日01時10分  読売新聞)


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