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2012年7月 2日 (月)

一体改革、衆院通過―緊張感もち、政治を前へ

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 27
EDITORIAL: With tax bills passed, parties should address other pressing issues

After nearly three years of frustrating political meandering since the Democratic Party of Japan took over the government in September 2009, the nation finally took a step forward on June 26, when the Lower House passed bills for integrated tax and social security reforms.
 政権交代からまもなく3年。迷走を重ねてきた「決められない政治」が、ようやく一歩、前に進む。率直に歓迎したい。
 社会保障と税の一体改革関連法案が衆院を通過した。

In their bid for power, political parties usually stress their differences from their rivals.
 政権交代の時代、政党は「違い」を強調しがちだ。

But this time, the DPJ and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito made compromises on an important policy that will directly affect the nation's future. They are assuming joint responsibility, which is significant in itself.
 そんななか、民主、自民、公明の3党が、国の将来に直結する重要政策で歩み寄り、共同責任を負う意義は大きい。

An "act of necessity"
■緊急避難的な選択

A DPJ group led by former party leader Ichiro Ozawa rejected the bills en masse, effectively splitting the party.  衆院採決では民主党の小沢一郎元代表らが集団で反対し、民主党は分裂状態に入った。

Having thus rebelled against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda who was "staking his political life on the bills," the Ozawa group's only logical course of action would be to leave the party.
 野田首相が「政治生命をかける」とまで言った法案に反対した勢力が、このまま同じ党にい続けるのはおかしい。

We believe Noda and Ozawa have no choice now but to part company.
 首相と小沢氏はこの際、きっぱりたもとを分かつしかない。

Under parliamentary democracy, the party that has been elected to power carries out its election pledges. Strictly speaking, the DPJ-LDP-New Komeito framework of cooperation goes against that basic principle of parliamentary democracy.
 政党が選挙で競い、勝者が公約を実行する。それが議会制民主主義の要諦(ようてい)なら、3党協力の枠組みはそれとは矛盾する。

However, we see the tripartite cooperation as an "act of necessity" for preventing further fruitless government-opposition confrontations and breaking the vicious cycle of political deadlock.
 しかし、与野党が角突き合わせ、身動きがとれない政治の惨状を打開するためには、やむをえない、緊急避難的な選択だと受け止める。

When the DPJ won the 2009 Lower House election, it pledged "no consumption tax hike." But the promise proved to be irresponsible sweet talk when the national debt was pushing 1,000 trillion yen.
 09年総選挙で、民主党は「消費税は上げない」と言って政権を射止めた。国の借金が1千兆円に迫るなか、それは無責任な「甘い夢」だった。

Faced with the many constraints stemming from the globalization of the economy and the graying of Japanese society, the government had only limited options in trying to fix the nation's fiscal problems.
 経済はグローバル化し、少子高齢化も進む。多くの制約のなかで、政治がとりうる選択肢は少ない。

The DPJ's ineffectiveness as the ruling party became pronounced after it lost its majority in the Upper House in the 2010 election.
 民主党政権の混迷を決定づけたのは、10年の参院選の敗北による「ねじれ国会」である。

The woes of a divided Diet had also dogged the LDP administrations of Yasuo Fukuda and Taro Aso for two years before the party tumbled from power.
 自民党もまた、政権を失うまでの2年間、福田、麻生両政権で「ねじれ国会」に苦悩した。

Prime ministers have changed every year over the last five years, and both the LDP and the DPJ have paid dearly for it. The newly forged DPJ-LDP-New Komeito collaboration on the tax and social security reform bills is an outcome of that messy history.
 首相が1年おきに代わるなど、この5年、2大政党はともに重い代償を払ってきた。そのことが、結果として今回の枠組みに結びついた。

Refrain from logrolling, political strife
■なれ合い、政争排せ

How long the tripartite collaboration will last is anyone's guess.
 この3党の協力態勢がいつまで続くかは見通せない。

The current term of Lower House legislators will expire in a little over a year from now, and an Upper House election is slated for next summer.
 衆院議員の任期切れまであと1年あまり。来年夏には参院選がある。

As elections approach, political parties usually begin to exaggerate their differences from their rivals and engage in heavy-duty mudslinging.
選挙が近づけば近づくほど、政党同士が必要以上に違いを強調し、足の引っ張り合いが激しくなるのが永田町の通例だからだ。

In fact, the LDP is already clamoring for an early dissolution of the Lower House followed by a snap election, taking advantage of the Noda administration's weakened footing due to the Ozawa group's rebellion.
 実際、小沢氏らの造反で弱まった野田政権の足元を見るかのように、自民党はさっそく早期の解散・総選挙を求める声を強めている。

The LDP must not repeat the folly of bringing government to a grinding halt by starting a political war that will have no benefits for the public.
 国民そっちのけの政争で、政治を停滞させる愚を繰り返してはならない。

But there is also the opposite fear of the three parties staying together and capitalizing on their joint strength in numbers to lead the nation in a direction they want.
 逆の不安もある。3党が巨大な「数」をたのみに、手前勝手な方向に走り出すことだ。

There are signs of this already happening.
 その芽はすでに現れている。

In negotiating amendments to proposed nuclear regulation bills, the DPJ, the LDP and New Komeito added a clause that could effectively take the teeth out of the existing provision for decommissioning nuclear reactors after they have been in operation for 40 years.
 原子力規制法案をめぐる3党の修正協議で、原発を稼働40年で廃炉にする条文を骨抜きにしかねない規定が盛られた。

The three parties also added a new clause to the Atomic Energy Basic Law that says to the effect that one purpose of the use of nuclear energy is for a "security guarantee."
 3党はまた、原子力の利用は「我が国の安全保障に資する」ために確保するとの文言を原子力基本法に追加した。

Simply put, the parties have amended the nation's "nuclear policy Constitution" in the absence of any public discussion.
「原子力政策の憲法」が、十分な議論もないままに変更されたのだ。

In the meantime, the LDP has proposed a bill for spending 15 trillion yen over three years on road construction and other projects. A bill of this nature is definitely a throwback to the old days when money was squandered on public works projects. Will the DPJ have the backbone to stop this?
 自民党は、3年で15兆円の巨費を道路整備などにあてる国土強靱(きょうじん)化法案を提出している。この時代錯誤の提案に、民主党が歯止めをかけられるかどうかが問われる。

The three-party collaboration is a double-edged sword.
 3党協力の枠組みは「両刃(もろは)の剣」である。

The parties must work together where necessary, but without political logrolling. We hope they will start building a political culture that befits the present age.
 なれ合うことなく、緊張感をもって協力すべきは協力する。政権交代の時代にふさわしい政治文化を築く第一歩としたい。

Lay groundwork for general election
■総選挙へ環境整備を

A number of pressing issues require immediate political attention, including a bill for the issuance of deficit-covering government bonds, which has remained on the back burner for too long. Another is the vote-value disparity among Lower House electorates that has been judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Diet must settle these issues without delay during the extended session.
 政治がいま、回答を迫られている課題は山ほどある。
 たとえば、たなざらしのままの赤字国債発行法案や、最高裁に違憲状態と指弾された衆院の「一票の格差」是正だ。延長国会でこれら喫緊の課題を決着させる。それが最優先だ。

The three parties have agreed to discuss the nation's social security policy on "kokumin kaigi" (citizens' forum) for one year. This is a good way to share political responsibility and ensure continuity in discussions of various issues, even in the event of a change of government.
 3党は、社会保障政策について「国民会議」で1年間、話し合うことで合意した。政権交代で与野党が入れ替わっても、多様な分野で政治を前に進めていく責任を分かち合う。そんなルールと仕組みも整えたい。

There is also the need to further advance debate on issues that affect Japan's future, such as its nuclear energy policy, trade liberalization and recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Talks have been shelved on these issues because of the political skirmishes over the consumption tax hike bills.
 消費増税をめぐる政争の陰で先送りされてきた原子力政策、貿易自由化、震災復興など、日本の未来図にかかわる議論も加速しなければならない。

The integrated tax and social security reforms are certainly necessary, but it is true that the DPJ has reneged on its campaign promise to the people not to raise the consumption tax. The party at the time pledged to "generate 16.8 trillion yen in new revenue sources by reworking the national budget." It is clear now that the very basis of the campaign pledge was pure fantasy.
 一体改革は必要だが、民主党政権が消費税は上げないという国民との約束に背いたのは間違いない。「予算の組み替えなどで16.8兆円の新規財源を生み出す」とした、政権公約の根幹が実行不能な幻にすぎなかったことはいまや明らかだ。

Naturally, there are calls for an early dissolution of the Lower House so that the public can decide the DPJ's fate.
 筋から言えば、ここは早期の解散・総選挙で信を問い直すべしという声が出るのは自然だ。

But unless the vote disparity issue is resolved, a snap election cannot be held. It will take at least a few months for the electorates to be redrawn and the public to become familiar with the new electoral map.
 とはいえ、衆院の「一票の格差」を正さなければ、解散・総選挙はできまい。それには区割りと周知に数カ月かかる。

Each party must hasten to lay the groundwork for the next general election.
 各党は、総選挙を行うための環境を早く整える必要がある。

In the meantime, the parties must also rework their campaign messages and ensure their promised programs are solidly funded.
 そしてそれまでの間に、各党がしっかりした財源の裏づけのある公約を練り直すべきだ。

Discussions on the "citizens' forum" may be only at the halfway point, but each party can assert its policy in its election manifesto.
 「国民会議」の議論は半ばになろうが、各党の主張は公約に反映させればいい。

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