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2013年7月21日 (日)

13参院選 あす投票 参院の意義と役割も考えたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 21, 2013
Upper house's meaning, roles must be reconsidered
13参院選 あす投票 参院の意義と役割も考えたい(7月20日付・読売社説)

Voters go to polls for the 23rd House of Councillors election on Sunday.
 第23回参院選は、あす21日に投開票される。

As the “House of Common Sense,” the upper house is essentially expected to serve as a check and a supplement to the House of Representatives.
 参院には本来「良識の府」として、衆院に対する抑制や補完の役割が期待されている。

In recent years, however, especially under the divided Diet, the ruling and opposition parties have engaged in fierce partisan battles with the upper house becoming a “House of Political Struggle” that stalls and throws national politics into confusion.
 だが、近年、とくに衆参ねじれ国会の下で、与野党が激しく対立し、参院は政治を停滞、混乱させる「政局の府」と化してきた。

Despite this, why are we witnessing almost no debate during election campaigning on what form the upper house should take?
 選挙戦で、参院の在り方についての議論がほとんど聞かれないのはどうしたことか。

Even if the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito win a combined majority in the upper house and resolve this division, we will still have this problem of an overly powerful upper house that is bestowed with almost equal authority to the lower house.
仮に、自公両党が参院で過半数を制し、ねじれを解消できたとしても、衆院とほぼ対等の権限を持つ「強すぎる参院」の問題は残る。

Azuma Koshiishi, the head of the Democratic Party of Japan caucus in the upper chamber, described what his party saw as the merits of having a powerful upper house during a debate program on NHK. “People say the upper house is the main factor resulting in ‘inindecisive politics,’ but it’s true that it helps us to somehow maintain tension in politics,” Koshiishi said.
 民主党の輿石参院議員会長はNHKの討論番組で、ねじれについて「決められない政治の元凶というが、(それにより)かろうじて政治に緊張感が保てているのも事実だ」と、“効用”を説いた。

But we wonder if the political fighting led by Koshiishi that sank the appointment of the Bank of Japan governor during the ordinary Diet session in 2008 can be considered “political tension.”
 しかし、2008年の通常国会で輿石氏が主導して日銀総裁人事を葬ったような政争まで「緊張感」と言えるのだろうか。

Destructive conflict

The last Diet session was also thrown into disarray. The rezoning bill to cut five single-constitutency seats from the lower house was not debated for more than 60 days after being passed by the lower house. The bill was therefore deemed to have been rejected by the upper house in keeping with a constitutional provision, but it was enacted into law after a revote by the lower house.
 先の国会でも混乱が生じた。衆院の小選挙区を「0増5減」する区割り法は衆院通過後、参院で60日以上、審議されなかった。憲法の規定で否決とみなされ、衆院の再可決により成立した。

It was nothing but a suicidal act by the upper house that contradicted its raison d’etre.
 参院の存在意義を自ら否定する「自殺行為」にほかならない。

The opposition parties passed a censure motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the upper house and refused to enter debates on bills, abolishing even bills both ruling and opposition parties had earlier agreed to pass.
 加えて、参院野党は首相問責決議を可決し、審議を拒否した。与野党で成立に合意していた法案さえ廃案になった。

When it was in the opposition, the LDP introduced an excessive number of censure motions in the upper house. The LDP should be equally blamed for undermining the upper house’s authority.
 自民党も、野党時代は問責決議を乱発した。参院の権威を貶(おとし)めた点では、同罪である。

There is no doubt that the upper house’s functions should be reviewed. We believe a drastic change to the upper house election system--which is similar to the one adopted by the lower house--will provide momentum to stir up debates on this important issue.
 参院の在り方を見直す必要がある。衆院と似通っている参院の選挙制度を抜本的に改革することが一つのきっかけになろう。

The revised Public Offices Election Law, which reduced four constituency seats from less-populated prefectures and increased four seats for populated prefectures as an emergency measure to rectify the discrepancies in the value of each vote, calls for reaching a conclusion on an overhaul of the upper house election system by the 2016 upper house poll.
 「1票の格差」の緊急是正のために、選挙区定数を「4増4減」した改正公職選挙法は、16年の参院選までに抜本改革の結論を得ると明記している。

Electoral reform needed

Abe proposed the establishment of an independent panel of experts to promote lower house electral reforms. We believe discussion should be held to change the upper house election system as well. It is essential to reform the system so we will be less likely to have a divided Diet, in which the lower house is controlled by the ruling camp and the upper house by the opposition camp.
 衆院の選挙制度改革を進めようと、首相は有識者による第三者機関を設置することを提案した。参院でも、制度改革を検討すべきだ。ねじれが生まれにくい選挙制度にする視点が欠かせない。

Upper house reform is a theme both new and old. Prescriptions to rectify problems--such as allowing upper house members to vote as they wish regardless of their party lines so the influence of political parties in the upper chamber will be weakened--have been duly presented. It is also necessary to debate constitutional revisions to deprive the upper house of the authority to nominate the prime minister and boost the lower house’s superiority over the upper house.
 参院改革は古くて新しいテーマだ。政党の影響力を弱めるため党議拘束を外すといった処方箋は出そろっている。参院の首相指名権を廃止し、憲法の定める衆院の優越規定を拡大するなど、憲法改正に踏み込む議論も必要だろう。

We urge the ruling and opposition camps to start consultations on how to overhaul the upper house after Sunday’s election.
 参院選後は、与野党が参院改革の協議につくことを求めたい。

(The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 20, 2013)
(2013年7月20日01時02分  読売新聞)

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