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2013年1月 7日 (月)

民主主義を考える―「私たち」を政治の主語に

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 5
EDITORIAL: Citizens should play the leading role in democracy
民主主義を考える―「私たち」を政治の主語に

Let us reflect on the state of democracy in this nation.
 民主主義を考えたい。

We want to do so because Japan's political ills appear to indicate that democracy in this country itself has a cold, so to speak.
 政治の病は、民主主義じたいが風邪をひいている表れのように思えるからだ。

Japanese people's distrust of politics has deepened to an alarming degree, and the number of voters who support specific political parties has dwindled. It seems polls are determined not by voters' "support" but by their "nonsupport." Parties that no longer have a strong base of supporters inevitably go adrift, tossed about by the vicissitudes of politics.
 政治不信は深まり、政党の支持者は細った。人々は「支持」よりも「不支持」で投票行動を決めているようにみえる。根の枯れた政党は漂い、浮き沈みを繰り返す。

Does democracy work well when it is fueled by the negative sentiment of disapproval?
 不支持という負の感情を燃料に、民主主義はうまく動くのだろうか。

An illuminating insight is offered by a political philosopher from an age in which political parties lost the support of people who used to sympathize with them.
政党が「共感を寄せてくれた大衆を失ってしまった」あの時代を体験した、政治哲学者の著作をひもとこう。

When communities collapse and social ties are severed, the masses feel discarded and turn hostile toward the "establishment," including political parties and the representatives of interest groups. And when a defeat in war and unemployment have spread anxiety among them, those masses seek stories that fulfill their desire to escape from reality.
 ――共同体が壊れて人とのつながりを失い、見捨てられた思いを抱く大衆は、政党や利益団体の代表を始めとする「体制」に敵意を示す。敗戦や失業で不安が広がると、現実から目を背けさせてくれる物語を求める。

That's why people in Germany believed the fiction of a Jewish world conspiracy that the Nazis created for their propaganda. This keen observation was made by Hannah Arendt, a German-born Jew, in her book "The Origins of Totalitarianism," published in 1951.
 だから、大衆は「ユダヤ人の陰謀」と戦うというナチスの虚構を信じた。ドイツ生まれのユダヤ人、ハンナ・アーレントは「全体主義の起原(きげん)」(1951年)で、そう読み解いた。

GATHERING 'IDEAS OF AMATEURS'
■「素人の知恵」集める

How can we build connections between people and politics based on positive sentiments?
 どうすれば、人々と政治は、正の感情でつながれるのか。

Some Japanese may think that politics is a "service industry" and they are its customers. Such people would say that if they become dissatisfied with the services provided, they need only change the provider (the ruling party).
 政治はサービス産業で、私たちは顧客。不満なら業者(政党)を代えればいい――。

Such a notion can only cause us to suffer disillusionment with politics again and again.
 そんな感覚なら、幻滅を繰り返すだけだ。

In today's Japan, where the population is aging rapidly amid low birthrates, it is difficult for any party in power to keep providing satisfactory services.
少子高齢化が進むいまの日本。だれが政権を担っても、満足なサービスを提供し続けるのは難しいのだから。

First of all, are citizens customers?
 だいいち、市民は客なのか。

Citizens lodge petitions, while politicians try to secure budgets for projects and programs they favor. Toshinari Yokoo, a 31-year-old member of the Minato Ward assembly in Tokyo, is working to change this traditional relationship between citizens and politicians in Japan into a constructive partnership for tackling challenges.
 市民は陳情し、政治家は予算を引き出す。そんな関係を、ともに課題解決にとりくむ仲間に変えよう。東京都港区議の横尾俊成さん(31)はそう試みる。

Yokoo's election manifesto is composed of policy proposals that emerged from his conversations with citizens.
 選挙公約には、市民との対話で出た提案を列挙した。

One of the proposals is to scrap the restrictive rules on what children can do in parks, designed to prevent them from getting injured, so that they can play in an unrestrained manner. Another is to establish a system that allows citizens to rent a bicycle at one bicycle parking lot and return it at another.
 けがをさせまいと遊び方を制限したりせず、やんちゃし放題の公園。駐輪場で自転車を借り、別の駐輪場で乗り捨てられる仕組み。

As these proposals get into the process of implementation, those who have proposed them get excited about the fact that their ideas can really become a reality.
実現に動き出すと、提案者から「できるんだ!」と喜びの声が上がる。

Yokoo also uses the Internet to solicit ideas from ordinary citizens. He has posted calls for ideas about, for instance, how to raise the ratio of young people voting in elections and new ways to use community notice boards. He then brings ideas offered by citizens to the ward assembly for consideration.
 インターネットでも、「若者の投票率を上げる施策」や「まちの掲示板の新しい使い方」を一緒に考えようと呼びかけ、議会につなぐ。

"Traditionally, the will of the local residents means the opinions of the representatives of neighborhood associations and local interest groups, and little attention has been paid to the voices of young people," says Yokoo. "But it is young people who are most familiar with the problems facing them. We should try to gather ideas from 100 'thinking amateurs' rather than relying on one biased representative."
 「これまでは自治会や利益団体の代表の声が『民意』で、若い人の声は届かなかった。でも若者の課題を知っているのは若者自身。1人の偏った代表者より、100人の『考える素人』の知恵を集めることです」

Yokoo believes the principal role of politicians is to extract ideas from citizens.
 知恵を引き出すのが、政治家の役割だと横尾さんは考える。

If people want to carve out a wonderful future for themselves on their own, they need media that focus more on communicating great ideas than on providing distressing news.
 自分たちですてきな未来を創るには、暗いニュースより優れたアイデアを伝えるメディアが必要だ。

That's the idea behind the publication of web magazine "greenz.jp" by Nao Suzuki, 36, who heads Greenz, an incorporated nonprofit organization.
NPO法人「グリーンズ」の鈴木菜央代表理事(36)はそう考えて、ウェブマガジン「greenz.jp」を発刊した。

An article published in the online magazine tells about a unique way to connect consumers to workers who make products.
 たとえば、こんな事例を紹介している。

SOLUTION THROUGH REBUILDING TIES
■つながり直しで解決

The website of a French designer allows shoppers to choose the old lady who knits the hat or the muffler they order. Buyers chose one of the knitters based on their pictures and personal information, like a love of rock music. Purchasers express their gratitude to the old ladies who have knitted their hats and mufflers, and thus begin exchanges between the consumers and the knitters.
 フランスのデザイナーのウェブサイトでは、帽子やマフラーを編んでくれるおばあちゃんを指名できる。ロックが好き、といった情報や写真で選ぶ。客が感謝を伝え、おばあちゃんとの交流が始まる。

"As social ties between people become weak in this society, there are growing signs that people are seeking to solve problems through rebuilding those ties," observes Suzuki. "Share houses and networks to exchange clothes are just two examples. But the enormous distance between citizens and politics makes it difficult to propose policies to support this trend."
 「人のつながりが希薄な社会になり、『つながり直し』で課題を解決する動きが広がっている。シェアハウスも、洋服を交換するネットワークもそうだ。ただ、そんな動きを後押しする政策を提言しようにも、市民と政治の距離はあまりに遠い」

In order to narrow that distance, Suzuki has launched the "Senkyo (Election) CAMP" campaign. His organization rented one floor of a building in Tokyo's Shibuya district for a period of one month that included the Dec. 16 Lower House election for use as a venue for discussions open to everybody.
 距離を埋めるため、「せんきょCAMP」運動を始めた。衆院選前後の1カ月間は東京・渋谷のビルのフロアを借り、だれもが参加できる対話の場に仕立てた。

The discussion forum was designed to change people's attitude toward politics from "It's somebody else's business" to "It's our own business." Participants had discussions with guests, including politicians, on topics such as the kind of future they want and what they can do to change the situation.
 「他人ごと」な政治を「自分ごと」にするため、「ほしい未来は」「あなたは何ができる」を話し合い、政治家を含むゲストと意見を交わす。

Similar moves have emerged in 15 places nationwide. Suzuki hopes to expand this movement during the run-up to the Upper House election next summer.
呼応する動きは全国15カ所に。参院選に向け、さらに広げたい考えだ。

When asked about the current state of politics in Japan, he gave the following answer.
 いまの政治について尋ねると、こんな答えが返ってきた。

"It is meaningless to keep repeating the process of planting carrots in sterile land in the narrow farm called Nagata-cho (Japan's political power center) and then replacing them with red turnips when they wither.
 「永田町という狭い農場で、痩せた土にニンジンを植え、枯れたら赤カブに換える、なんてことを繰り返しても仕方ない。

"What we need to do is to expand conversations (on politics) among citizens, create countless venues for such public discussions and nurture rich democratic ecosystems all over the nation."
市民の対話を広げ、参加の場を無数に用意し、各地に豊かな生態系を育むことです」

FROM VOTERS TO SOVEREIGN MEMBERS OF SOCIETY
■有権者から主権者へ

It is futile and dangerous for us to bewail the failure of politics to meet our expectations and wait longingly for saviors. We should be wary of politicians who talk about easy solutions to the thorny problems facing the nation.
 期待に応えぬ政治を嘆き、救世主を待つのは不毛だし、危うい。簡単な解決策を語る者は、むしろ疑うべきだ。

Citizens need to confront the challenges facing them and try to make politicians take effective steps to tackle them. Politicians, for their part, should promote information disclosure and create effective systems to seek ideas and proposals from citizens.
 市民みずから課題に向きあい、政治に働きかける。政治は情報公開を進め、市民の知恵を採り入れる仕組みを整える。

Japanese citizens must change themselves from voters who only cast ballots at the polls into participants in the sovereignty of their nation. They must take a first step toward realizing a true democracy in which the people play the leading role.
 投票するだけの有権者から、主権者へ。「民」が主語となる本来の民主主義へと一歩、踏み出すしかない。

Yokoo is also the chief of NPO corporation Greenbird, a group of young people dedicated to cleaning up their communities.
There are a total of 43 teams of young people working for the cause across Japan and overseas.
 横尾さんは、街を掃除する若者たちのNPO法人「グリーンバード」代表でもある。全国や海外で43チームが活動する。

"We really enjoy working in teams and receiving positive reactions from people," says Yokoo. "I hope we can also get involved in politics in an enjoyable and cool way."
 「みんなで汗をかき、周りから『いいね!』と言ってもらえるのは楽しい。政治もみんなで楽しく、かっこよくやりたい」

We agree. Democracy can be fun if we play the leading role.
 賛成だ。私たち自身が主語ならきっと、民主主義は楽しい。

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