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2015年11月 2日 (月)

(社説)中国一人っ子 出産規制全廃すべきだ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 31
EDITORIAL: China should eliminate all restrictions on childbirths
(社説)中国一人っ子 出産規制全廃すべきだ

Decisions concerning childbirth should be left to individuals exercising their free will.
 出産は本来、人間の自由な営みに委ねられるべきものである。

China should discontinue its distorted policy of forcefully restricting the number of children a family can have.
政治が強制的に制限するという、いびつな施策をこれ以上続けるべきではない。

The Chinese government has decided to ease its strict “one-child” policy that limits the number of children in a family.
 中国政府が、一人っ子政策と呼ばれた産児制限を緩める。

The decision is part of the Communist Party’s 13th Five-Year Plan, which sets economic policy priorities for the five years beginning in 2016. The economic plan was worked out in the recent Fifth Plenary Session of the party’s Central Committee.
今週開かれた共産党中央委員会の第5回全体会議で、来年からの経済方針である第13次5カ年計画の概要に盛り込まれた。

In most countries, the government’s role in family planning is limited to educational and awareness campaigns at most.
 多くの国では、家族計画への政府の関与はせいぜい教育・啓発活動までだ。

China’s one-child policy, which has been in place since 1979, was originally a response to concerns about food shortages. But this drastic population control policy has been internationally criticized because it has involved serious human rights violations, including forced abortions.
1979年以来続いた一人っ子政策は食糧不足への心配によるものとはいえ、妊娠中絶の強制など深刻な人権侵害を伴い、国際的な批判を浴びてきた。

In a 2013 move to ease the restrictions, the government allowed couples, where at least one parent was an only child, to have a second child. Beijing has now decided to allow all couples to have two children.
 一昨年の緩和策では「両親いずれかが一人っ子なら2人目を認める」というものだった。今回は、例外なく2人目を認めるという。

This is a step forward, but the system of regulatory birth control will remain in place. China should scrap this system altogether.
一歩前進ではあるが、産児制限の制度は残る。全面的に撤廃するべきだ。

The government of President Xi Jinping, who has been pursuing a policy agenda focused on expansion of national power, probably decided on the policy change out of concerns about the consequences of tight population control. The Xi administration is facing the tough challenge of how to deal with serious problems caused by the country’s declining working population and the aging of society, such as slowing economic growth and a growing social security burden.
 国の富強をめざす習近平(シーチンピン)政権は、労働人口の減少と高齢化がもたらす経済成長の鈍化や社会保障負担の増大にどう対応するか、という問題意識から政策変更に踏み切ったのだろう。

From this point of view, the decision has come too late.
その観点から考えても、遅きに失したと言わざるを得ない。

A country’s demographic future can be predicted with considerable accuracy.
 人口は、かなりの確かさで将来を予測できる。

In China, where birthrates have fallen to extremely low levels due to the one-child policy, there have long been concerns that the effects of the aging population will start hurting the nation’s economic performance before its people become wealthy.
Due to this alarming prospect, there have been strong calls for the abolition of the controversial policy in China.
出生率が下がった中国には、経済的に豊かになる前に高齢化が進むという根本的な懸念があり、一人っ子政策の撤廃を主張する声はかねて強かった。

Why has the Chinese government been so slow to change the policy? One possible explanation is that a firmly entrenched system to regulate childbirths supported by a vast number of officials in central and local governments has led to vested interests.
 なぜ遅れたのか。考えられるのは、計画出産を管理する体制が中央から地方まで膨大な人員によって築き上げられ、一種の権益化が進んだことだ。

It has been reported that fines imposed on couples who have violated the rules have been a source of revenue for local governments.
違反者に科せられる罰金が地方政府の財源になったとも伝えられる。

This is a structural problem deep-rooted in the country’s administrative and fiscal systems.
行財政のあり方全体が絡んだ構造的な問題である。

Easing the restrictions now may not produce much economic effect. In large Chinese cities, where the number of newborns has already declined as significantly as it has in Japan, the step to relax the policy in 2013 has only led to a marginal rise in births.
 いまやっと制限緩和しても、経済効果はそうないかもしれない。大都市では日本同様の少子化が進み、一昨年の緩和による出生増は限定的だった。

Even if the number of babies increases significantly, it will be more than 10 years down the road before they can join the nation’s work force.
もし増えても、新たな働き手として社会に加わるのは十数年先だ。

The new Five-Year Plan also calls for promoting migration from rural areas to cities as a way to increase the working population.
 新しい5カ年計画には、労働人口を増やす方策として、農村人口の都市受け入れを促すことが盛り込まれた。

This policy measure alone is related to a wide range of issues, including land problems in farming villages and the necessity to expand the social security and education systems for urban residents.
このことだけでも、農村の土地問題、社会保障や教育の受け皿など、関連する課題が多岐にわたる。

In addition to the demographic shift, China is now simultaneously facing almost all the various challenges Japan had to grapple with over the period of its fast economic growth from the late 1950s through early 1970s, including widespread environmental pollution.
 こうした人口移動のほか、公害など、いわば日本の高度成長期を圧縮する形で諸問題に直面しているのが、いまの中国の姿だ。

The goal of the Xi administration’s domestic reform agenda should be to build a future where the country’s 1.3 billion people and children who will be born in the coming years can live with a sense of security.
習政権の国内改革がめざすべき目標は、13億人とこれから生まれる子どもたちが安心して暮らせる国造りに尽きる。

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