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2013年1月29日 (火)

オバマ氏2期目 米国再生へ真価が問われる

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 29, 2013)
Can U.S. achieve revival during Obama's 2nd term?
オバマ氏2期目 米国再生へ真価が問われる(1月28日付・読売社説)

The coming four years will be a crucial test of Barack Obama's ability to revive the United States.

After his reelection, Obama has launched his second term as U.S. president.

In a speech marking the inauguration of his second term, Obama touted his first-term achievements, saying: "A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun."

U.S. troops in Afghanistan will complete their combat mission shortly and pull out at the end of next year. Stock prices that nosedived after the "Lehman shock" have been rising sharply, exceeding precrisis levels. And the U.S. energy boom is surging due to the so-called shale gas revolution.

Obama probably takes pride in his achievement of overcoming negative legacies of the previous Bush administration.

However, a bumpy road lies ahead before the United States can attain a full-scale revival.


Fiscal mess must be fixed

The top-priority challenge will be fiscal reconstruction.

Fiscal deficits topped 1 trillion dollars (about 90 trillion yen) for four consecutive years, and government debts ballooned to exceed 16 trillion dollars.

The United States has so far avoided the double threats of falling off the fiscal cliff: mandatory spending cuts and the expiration of large-scale tax breaks. A government default will likely be avoided for about three months by raising the ceiling on the issuance of U.S. Treasury bills, which limits federal borrowing.

However, implementation of drastic fiscal reconstruction measures are being put on the back burner.

Obama must display strong leadership in passing necessary bills through Congress.

Partisan confrontation has been intensifying rather than subsiding under a divided Congress in which the House of Representatives is controlled by the opposition Republican Party and the Senate by the Democratic Party. Obama will face a tough job in dealing with Republican representatives on key bills.

To help overcome the challenge, Obama is replacing key Cabinet members--including secretaries of Treasury, state and defense--and has nominated seasoned politicians with broad influence in Congress to fill the posts.


A host of challenges

Obama faces a host of difficult policy challenges at home. Among them are legislation for gun control in the aftermath of the shooting rampage that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school students, and reform of the immigration system to give the children of illegal immigrants conditional citizenship.

On diplomatic and security fronts, Obama will have to cope with the ongoing nuclear development programs of North Korea and Iran. Washington's active engagement will be indispensable to promote the deadlocked Middle East peace process and deal with the turmoil stemming from the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement.

Above all, the Obama administration's strategy of focusing on Asia is being put to the test.

How will the White House develop a relationship with the Chinese administration led by Xi Jinping while curbing the moves of China, which has been expanding its military and economic power? It will be essential for the United States to buttress relations with Japan and other allies to build a free, open and peaceful Asia-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the United States next month and hold a summit meeting with Obama. We hope the two leaders will discuss how to reinforce the Japan-U.S. alliance from a strategic viewpoint focusing on China.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 28, 2013)
(2013年1月28日01時07分  読売新聞)


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