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2014年9月 2日 (火)

子供の貧困対策 世代間の連鎖を断ち切りたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
End generational cycle of poverty to give children equal opportunity
子供の貧困対策 世代間の連鎖を断ち切りたい

A society must be realized in which all children, regardless of their parents’ income levels, will be given equal opportunities to carve out their own futures.
 すべての子供が、親の経済状況に関わりなく、将来を切り開いていける社会を実現したい。

The government on Friday announced a Cabinet decision on a policy outline containing details of countermeasures to combat the problem of child poverty. Based on the law for measures to counter child poverty that came into force in January, the outline specifies priority tasks to be undertaken by the government within the next five years.
 政府が、子供の貧困対策の具体的内容を定めた大綱を閣議決定した。1月に施行された「子どもの貧困対策法」に基づき、今後5年間の重点施策を示したものだ。

Japan’s child poverty rate stood at an all-time high of 16.3 percent in 2012. The figure represents the percentage of children living in households that earn less than half the national median income, translating into roughly one in six children. The nation’s child poverty rate is at a significantly high level among industrialized economies.
 日本の子供の貧困率は、2012年に過去最悪の16・3%に達した。所得が標準的な水準の半分に満たない世帯で暮らす子供の割合で、ほぼ6人に1人にあたる。先進国の中では高い水準だ。

Children from low-income households tend to find themselves in need even after they become adults. It is reasonable that the policy outline has adopted a basic principle with the aim of breaking the “generational cycle of poverty.”
 貧困家庭の子供は、成長した後、自らも経済的に困窮しやすい。大綱が「貧困の連鎖」の解消を基本理念としたのは妥当である。

Particular emphasis in the outline is placed on educational assistance measures for children living in poverty. Among the steps cited are expansion of interest-free scholarship loan programs and tutoring for needy children by volunteers. Envisioning schools as “platforms” for supporting children, the policy outline calls for an enormous increase in the number of school social workers who liaise with social welfare organizations.
 特に力点を置いたのが、教育の支援だ。無利子奨学金やボランティアによる学習支援の拡充などを挙げた。学校を支援の窓口と位置づけ、福祉機関とのつなぎ役となるスクールソーシャルワーカーを大幅に増員する。

To grasp the actual conditions of children living in poverty, the outline has chosen 25 indicators to evaluate the effects of child-support government measures, such as the percentages of children from households on welfare — those under the government’s public assistance system — who go on to higher education and secure employment.
 実態を把握するための指標として、生活保護世帯の子供の進学率や就職率など25項目を選び、対策の効果の検証に用いる。

Abandoning education

Many of the measures referred to in the outline have already been in place and lack innovation, but the fact that the government has worked out a comprehensive set of measures for tackling the problem of child poverty, the first of its kind, is fairly significant. The central government and local governments must work together closely for steady implementation of the support package.
 既存の施策が多く、目新しさには乏しいものの、政府が初めて総合的な対策を策定した意義は小さくない。国と自治体が連携し、着実に実施する必要がある。

Regarding the problem of child poverty, there are many conspicuous cases in which children are forced to abandon the prospect of higher education or find themselves unable to participate in such events as school trips and extracurricular activities. In some serious cases, children are unable to eat three proper meals a day or receive necessary medical treatment.
 子供の貧困を巡っては、進学を断念したり、修学旅行や部活動に参加できなかったりするケースが目立つ。3食を満足に食べられない、必要な医療を受けられないといった深刻な例もある。

Single-parent households, whose poverty rate has shot up to 54.6 percent, are in especially dire circumstances. A large majority of them are single-mother families.
 とりわけ苦境にあるのが、ひとり親世帯で、貧困率は54・6%に上る。その大半は母子家庭だ。

Eighty percent of single mothers work, but many of them have been unable to escape poverty. If they have children to take care of, they have fewer opportunities of attaining the status of regular employees, since many single mothers work in low-paying part-time and other nonregular jobs. The annual employment income of single-mother households is no more than ¥1.81 million on average.
 シングルマザーの8割は働いているが、なかなか貧困から抜け出せない。子供がいると正社員になりにくく、低賃金の非正規雇用で働く人が多いためだ。母子世帯の就労による年収は、平均181万円にとどまる。

Measures to help boost the income of such parents are vital. Employment support steps incorporated into the policy outline for single mothers and other low-income households must be improved further. In addition, a review must be made of the nation’s entire employment system with a view to remedying, as a matter of course, the working conditions of nonregular employees, and expanding their opportunities to become regular employees.
 親の所得アップは欠かせない。大綱に盛り込まれたシングルマザーなどへの就労支援を一層、充実させることが求められよう。非正規雇用の処遇改善はもちろん、正社員への転換促進など、雇用全体の見直しも必要だ。

The policy outline, however, fell short of including any numerical targets to lower the child poverty rate. This is a task the government should address in the future to heighten the effectiveness of measures to fight child poverty.
 大綱では、子供の貧困に関わる数値目標を設定しなかった。対策の実効性を高めるうえで、今後の検討課題だろう。

Situations in which children are deprived of opportunities to exercise their skills and abilities due to poverty is undoubtedly detrimental to the future of the country. The challenge of eliminating poverty must be addressed by society as a whole.
 貧困のため、子供が能力を発揮する機会を奪われるようでは、日本の将来にとって損失だ。貧困の解消は、社会全体で取り組まねばならない問題である。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 1, 2014)Speech

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