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2013年4月11日 (木)

サッチャー死去 今なお生きる国家再生の教訓

[The Yomiuri Shimbun] April 11, 2013
EDITORIAL / Thatcher leaves indelible lesson on how to revitalize a nation
サッチャー死去 今なお生きる国家再生の教訓(4月10日付・読売社説)

Margaret Thatcher was a female politician who not only revitalized a sinking Britain but changed the world by playing a key role in ending the Cold War.

Thatcher, who served as British prime minister for 11 years from 1979, died Monday at the age of 87.

In expressing his condolences, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said she was "a great leader who demonstrated a force of will and was a respected politician who devoted herself to her country and people."

Even today, Japan can learn many lessons from Thatcher. Her greatest achievement was carrying out drastic reforms known as Thatcherism.

She stood firm against the "British disease"--a reference to the country's recession and financial woes--by promoting a small government. She embraced privatization and took a series of deregulation steps, including the "Big Bang" that transformed financial markets. She also boldly pushed through unpopular measures such as reducing generous welfare services and streamlining the coal mine sector.

However, as her economic policy focused mainly on the financial sector, Britain's manufacturing industry waned, widening the rich-poor gap. Despite the negative impact, her reforms are regarded to have laid the groundwork for the country's economic growth from the 1990s.

Impact on Japan

In the wake of Thatcherism, the state-owned Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation and Japanese National Railways were privatized under the administration of then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, and Japan's version of the "Big Bang" financial reforms were carried out under the administration of then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

Along with Reaganomics, the economic policies promoted by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Thatcher managed the remarkable achievement of resuscitating the global economy.

Currently, Japan is trying to turn its economy around under Abenomics. Abe must exert his leadership to implement the necessary measures.

Thatcher's educational reforms have also influenced Abe. In a book, the Japanese prime minister praised her commitment to boosting Britain's educational levels by correcting a "self-deprecating" view of history in education.

Thatcher's role in international politics is also unforgettable.

When the United States and European countries were divided over U.S. plans to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe and other issues, Thatcher stressed the need to counter the Soviet Union militarily. She played a pivotal role in unifying the West and ending the Cold War.

Maintaining rule of law

The world's spotlight was directed on Thatcher in April 1982 when Argentine forces invaded the British territory of Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. She did not hesitate to send a naval fleet to retake them.

In his recent policy speech, Abe quoted Thatcher who, on reflecting on the Falklands War, said Britain was defending the principle that international law should take precedence over the use of force.

She strongly advocated the protection of territories and sovereignty while abiding by international law. Japan should adopt this kind of firm attitude.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 10, 2013)
(2013年4月10日02時00分  読売新聞)


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