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2016年7月13日 (水)

自公が国政選4連勝 「後出し改憲」に信はない

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 11
EDITORIAL: Election victory is not a mandate to change the Constitution
(社説)自公が国政選4連勝 「後出し改憲」に信はない

The outcome of the July 10 Upper House election has turned out to be a watershed in the nation's postwar politics.
 歴史的な選挙となった。

In the 1956 Upper House election, the Socialists, along with other parties, erected a sort of legislative wall by securing more than one-third of the seats to prevent the newly formed Liberal Democratic Party from carrying out its pledge to amend the Constitution.
Six decades on, the wall in the Upper House has now crumbled. It had already gone in the Lower House.
 1956年、結党間もない自民党が掲げた憲法改正を阻むため、社会党などが築いた「3分の1」の壁。これが、60年たって参院でも崩れ去った。

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, won a crushing victory in the election. The four pro-amendment parties, which include Initiatives from Osaka, together with some independent members who support the idea but didn’t face election this year, now control more than two-thirds of the chamber. The LDP and Komeito already have a two-thirds majority in the Lower House. Constitutional amendments can be initiated by the Diet through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each chamber.
 自民、公明の与党が大勝し、おおさか維新なども含めた「改憲4党」、それに改憲に前向きな非改選の無所属議員もあわせれば、憲法改正案の国会発議ができる「3分の2」を超えた。衆院では、自公だけでこの議席を占めている。

Rewriting the Constitution, of course, is a very complicated political challenge, and these numbers don’t mean the process will move forward immediately.
 もちろん、これで一気に進むほど憲法改正は容易ではない。

The four pro-amendment parties have widely different political agendas. Komeito, in particular, is increasingly cautious about pushing through any initiative to amend the Constitution.
改憲4党といってもめざすところはバラバラで、とりわけ公明党は慎重論を強めている。

There is, however, no doubt that debate on constitutional amendments will gain traction in the Diet in the coming months as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to activate the Commission on the Constitution in both houses during the next Diet session. In the process, the prospects of actual changes in the Constitution will increase gradually.
 それでも、安倍首相が「次の国会から憲法審査会をぜひ動かしていきたい」と予告したように、改憲の議論が現実味を帯びながら進められていくのは間違いない。

This is the first time that the postwar Constitution faces a realistic possibility of amendments being made. It’s nothing less than a critical turning point for Japan’s postwar politics.
 いまの憲法のもとでは初めての政治状況だ。まさに戦後政治の分岐点である。

CAMPAIGN DEBATE DEVOID OF KEY ELEMENTS
 ■判断材料欠けた論戦

Before the election campaign kicked off, Abe expressed his desire to carry out constitutional amendments while he was in office. But he avoided addressing the issue head-on during the campaign.
 首相は憲法改正について、選挙前は「自分の在任中には成し遂げたい」とまで語っていたのに、選挙が始まったとたん、積極的な発言を封印した。

The election is now over, and Abe is again ratcheting up his rhetoric about constitutional change.
We have to say Abe's approach to realize his long-held political aspiration is insincere.
 それでいて選挙が終われば、再び改憲へのアクセルをふかす――。首相は自らの悲願を、こんな不誠実な「後出し」で実現しようというのだろうか。

Exactly what kind of message did Japanese voters send out in the poll?
 有権者がこの選挙で示した民意をどう読み解くべきか。

Abe said the key election issues were the appropriateness of his decision to again postpone a rise in the consumption tax rate and whether his economic policy, known as "Abenomics," should be promoted further.
 首相が掲げたのは、消費税率引き上げ先送りの是非と、「アベノミクス」をさらに進めるかどうかだった。

As for the consumption tax rate increase, Katsuya Okada, president of the main opposition Democratic Party, had already called for it to be delayed before Abe announced his decision. The party pointed to the limitations of Abenomics but failed to offer a convincing alternative.
 消費税率引き上げについては、民進党の岡田代表が先んじて先送りを表明した。一方、民進党はアベノミクスの限界を指摘したが、それに代わりうる説得力ある案は示せなかった。

The LDP, on the other hand, promised to achieve a “virtuous cycle of growth and distribution,” a slogan that is reminiscent of the Democratic Party’s pledge to pursue both “distribution and growth.”
 逆に自民党は、民進党が掲げた「分配と成長の両立」をなぞるように「成長と分配の好循環」と訴えた。

The opposition parties focused their campaigning on blocking the Abe administration’s bid to amend the Constitution. But the prime minister did not respond to their challenge.
 野党側は安倍政権による改憲阻止を訴えたが、首相はこれにはこたえない。

There was no detailed debate on energy policy, which is facing the crucial decision of whether to promote or phase out nuclear power generation.
また、推進か脱却かの岐路にある原発政策は、多くは語られなかった。

All in all, the election campaign was short on vital elements that could strongly affect voters’ decisions at the ballot box.
 結局、有権者には判断材料が乏しいままだった。

Abe argued that his efforts to revitalize the economy through Abenomics have not been a failure, but still have a long way to go. Many voters may have cast ballots for the status quo in a “wait-and-see” stance even though they were not fully sold on Abe’s argument.
 「アベノミクスは失敗していないが、道半ばだ」という首相の説明には首をかしげても、「しばらく様子を見よう」と有権者の多くは現状維持を選んだと見ることもできよう。

ESCHEWING CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION TO PREVENT BACKLASH
 ■反発恐れ「改憲隠し」

Why did Abe not talk much about his desire to amend the Constitution?
 安倍首相が今回、憲法改正への意欲を積極的に語らなかったのはなぜか。

He has probably learned a lesson from his bitter experience with regard to the 2007 Upper House election, when he campaigned on a pledge to seek the initiation of constitutional amendments in 2010. He resigned after the ruling party took a drubbing in the poll.
 「2010年に憲法改正案の発議をめざす」。公約にこう掲げながら惨敗し、退陣につながった07年参院選の苦い教訓があったのは想像に難くない。

Abe apparently thought that the more he talked eagerly about his wish to rewrite the Constitution in specific terms the more likely the public would react negatively to his case.
憲法改正を具体的に語れば語るほど、世論の反発が大きくなるとの判断もあっただろう。

Abe also pointed out that any proposal to amend the Constitution has to be approved by the public through a national referendum and said it was not vital to discuss the issue in an election campaign.
 首相はまた、改憲案を最終的に承認するのは国民投票であることなどを指摘して「選挙で争点とすることは必ずしも必要ない」と説明した。

But he is wrong. The due process of amending the Constitution should be composed of three stages. First, a specific proposal to change the Constitution should be made a key topic for an election. Then, the elected representatives of the people should have mature debate on the proposal at the Diet for the purpose of building broad consensus. And finally, the proposal should be put to a national referendum for public approval.
 それは違う。改正の論点を選挙で問い、そのうえで選ばれた議員によって幅広い合意形成を図る熟議があり、最終的に国民投票で承認する。これがあるべきプロセスだ。

If he really believes it is not necessary to listen to the people’s opinions about a proposal to amend the Constitution until the Diet initiates the amendment, Abe has the wrong idea about to whom the Constitution belongs.
国会が発議するまで国民の意見は聞かなくていいというのであれば、やはり憲法は誰のものであるのかという根本をはき違えている。

Abe himself has admitted that there is no agreement on which provision should be amended first. This is clear evidence that there is no urgent need to change the Constitution.
 「どの条項から改正すべきか議論が収斂(しゅうれん)していない」と首相がいうのも、改憲に差し迫った必要性がないことの証左だ。

The outcome of the election doesn’t at all mean Abe has a public mandate to amend the Constitution.
 この選挙結果で、憲法改正に国民からゴーサインが出たとは決していえない。

OPPOSITION ALLIANCE SHOULD CONTINUE
 ■次への野党共闘は

Whether he will immediately start taking steps toward constitutional amendments or not, it is certain that Abe now has a very strong power base after four consecutive wins in national elections.
 憲法改正に直ちに進むかどうかは別にしても、国政選挙で4連勝した安倍首相が、当面、極めて強固な権力基盤を手にしたのは間違いない。

This is not simply about the ruling camp’s overwhelming majority in both houses. Since he returned to power in December 2012, Abe has appointed individuals he favors for posts that should be independent of political power, such as the Bank of Japan governor, the chief of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and the governors of Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK).
 単に国会の勢力だけの話ではない。安倍氏は首相に返り咲いてから、日銀総裁、内閣法制局長官、NHK経営委員と、本来は政治権力から距離を置くべきポストを自分の色に染めてきた。

Abe is also putting unprecedented political pressure on appointments to senior posts at ministries and agencies through the Cabinet bureau of personnel affairs.
内閣人事局を通じ、各省幹部人事にもこれまでにないにらみをきかせている。

There is no political force in the nation’s governing system that can counter or check the huge political power Abe has amassed.
 「安倍1強」に対抗できる、あるいは歯止めとなりうる力が統治機構の中に見あたらない。

Meanwhile, four opposition parties, including the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, fielded their unified candidates for all of the 32 single-seat constituencies in the election. They formed an electoral alliance for the common goals of repealing the national security legislation and thwarting Abe’s attempt to amend the Constitution.
The opposition alliance has proved effective, at least to a certain degree. But it has failed to shape up as a powerful national movement that can give a unified voice to public criticism about the Abe administration.
 一方、民進、共産など野党4党は、安全保障関連法廃止や改憲阻止を旗印に、32の1人区すべてで候補を統一し、一定の結果を残した。ただ、全国的に政権批判の受け皿になるには力強さを欠いた。

As the election campaigning entered its final stage, the opposition coalition came under fierce attack from the ruling camp, which denounced their partnership as an unprincipled coalition for political convenience. In particular, the ruling camp roundly criticized the Democratic Party and its non-communist allies for campaigning with the JCP, which regards the existence of the Self-Defense Forces as unconstitutional.
終盤になると、与党側から野合批判、とりわけ自衛隊を違憲とする共産党との共闘への激しい攻撃を浴びた。

If they hadn’t formed the alliance, however, they would have lost in even more of the single-seat constituencies. Their electoral cooperation has been meaningful from this point of view.
 もっとも、共闘していなければ、1人区の当選者はさらに限られただろうことを考えれば、共闘の試みに意味はあった。

Under the current election system, nearly 300 of the 475 Lower House seats are contested in single-seat constituencies. Single-seat constituencies are also vital for the overall outcomes of Upper House elections.
An electoral alliance is undoubtedly the most effective way for smaller opposition parties to fight against the dominant ruling camp under this system.
 小選挙区制の衆院、1人区が全体の結果を左右する参院のいまの選挙制度では、巨大与党に対抗するには野党共闘が最も有効であるのは間違いない。

The opposition parties need to figure out an effective formula for their alliance for the next Lower House election, which will enable voters to choose their government.
If they fail to do so, the LDP is likely to continue winning overwhelming election victories.
 政権選択を問う次の衆院選に向けて、どのような共闘ができるか。野党側が戦える態勢をととのえられなければ、自民ひとり勝ちの選挙がさらに続きかねない。

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