子ども手当 半額支給維持も容易ではない

2010-06-29 06:52:59 | 英字新聞
discern ディサーム(発音注意) 感覚や理性で理解する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 29, 2010)
No cash to spare for child allowances
子ども手当 半額支給維持も容易ではない(6月28日付・読売社説)

Child-rearing support measures require a balanced policy perspective and--more than anything else--fiscal resources to implement them.

The Democratic Party of Japan has dropped its ballyhooed policy of paying in full a 26,000 yen monthly child allowance starting in fiscal 2011 from its campaign platform for the forthcoming House of Councillors election.

The DPJ started the allowance system by paying 13,000 yen a month, half the originally set figure. Now the party claims it will "provide an additional allowance while securing fiscal resources." The additional allowance, however, will "take the form of building more nurseries and providing free school lunches to replace cash handouts."

The DPJ will no longer pay the additional child allowance unless fiscal resources can be secured, and it will reexamine the priority it placed on cash handouts.


DPJ right to change tack

This country is in dire fiscal straits, as exemplified by the issuance of government bonds worth more than tax revenue. Under these conditions, the provision of the 26,000 yen child allowance, which would require 5.4 trillion yen a year, is out of the question. The DPJ was right to change tack.

Social security budgets will increase by 1 trillion yen a year as our society ages. From next fiscal year, 2.5 trillion yen will be needed to pay for the portion of basic pension payments to be covered by the state. Given the serious fiscal conditions, it will not be easy to fund additional child allowances nor to maintain the current provision of half the promised amount.

In its vision on children and child-rearing, the government set a goal of increasing the capacity of nurseries by 50,000 children a year over five years.

It will cost 1.6 trillion yen to achieve this goal. Such an amount cannot be scrounged together simply by recasting the budget and cutting wasteful spending.


Tax hike unavoidable

Unless the consumption tax rate is raised, it will be difficult to boost measures to help parents raise their children. The DPJ needs to recognize this fact. Then the party should redesign its child-rearing policy comprehensively by studying what level of child allowance would be appropriate, and how it could be provided. This should be done in tandem with discussions on the advisability of raising the consumption tax.

Opposition parties also need to take such an approach. In its campaign platform for the July 11 election, the Liberal Democratic Party says it will "abolish nursery and kindergarten tuition fees." However, this would require at least 800 billion yen.

The LDP campaign pledges include "increasing the consumption tax rate to 10 percent," and details how necessary fiscal resources could be found. But the LDP should unequivocally tell voters that a hike in the consumption tax is the main premise for implementing measures that will greatly improve the social security system.

The British administration of Prime Minister David Cameron has put forth a policy of raising the value-added tax rate to 20 percent and freezing child-allowance payments for three years as it seeks to put Britain's fiscal house back in order.

Japan's fiscal conditions are tighter than Britain's. It is impossible to maintain the social security system without asking the public to shoulder an additional burden.

Voters need to discern which party will discuss and tackle this matter squarely and seriously in the upper house election.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2010)
(2010年6月28日01時56分 読売新聞)

G8サミット 日本の存在感低下に歯止めを

2010-06-28 07:04:00 | 英字新聞
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 28, 2010)
Japan must halt decline of diplomatic clout
G8サミット 日本の存在感低下に歯止めを(6月27日付・読売社説)

The summit meetings of the Group of Eight major powers and the Group of 20 major industrialized and emerging countries are taking place in Canada.

While it is noted that Japan's clout in the international community has been on the decline for several years, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's diplomatic competence is already being put to the test in his first trip abroad as prime minister.

Addressing the global economy, which is being rocked by Greece's debt crisis, leaders of the G-8 major powers affirmed during their meeting the importance of tackling fiscal reconstruction while securing growth.

Kan explained and sought understanding for Japan's policy of increasing expenditures in the nursing and medical fields while pursuing economic growth and fiscal soundness.

After returning to Japan, Kan certainly will be pressed to give concrete form to measures, including the consumption tax rate hike, to reconstruct the country's economy and state finances.

The G-8 leaders also agreed Friday to pledge 5 billion dollars over the next five years to aid maternal and child health care in developing countries. Kan announced Japan would offer 500 million dollars in this sector.

Japan possesses various types of know-how in providing medical assistance. The government should conduct finely tuned strategic aid diplomacy.


Stability vital to natl interests

In the political arena, the March sinking of a South Korean naval patrol ship was another focus of attention at the G-8.

Maintaining peace and stability in areas surrounding Japan is directly linked to its national interests. To secure its say at the G-8 summit meetings and shepherd its assertions to reality, it is indispensable that Japan fulfill its role as a major power in the political and economic arenas.

However, Japan's position in G-8 diplomacy has been extremely tenuous in recent years. Different prime ministers attended past G-8 summit meetings, with Shinzo Abe participating in 2007, Yasuo Fukuda in 2008 and Taro Aso last year.

Every time the prime minister changes, the new premier has to rebuild relationships from scratch with his counterparts from each country. While summit diplomacy is becoming increasingly important, there is no way we can expect, under such circumstances, the prime minister to exercise leadership in diplomatic negotiations, such as with Russia over the northern territories dispute.


Kan must avoid Hatoyama rut

Kan's diplomatic competence is unknown, although as finance minister, he attended the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven major industrialized nations in February.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama drove Japan-U.S. relations astray with his go-it-alone judgment and immature approach.

Kan said he would try to promote diplomacy based on pragmatism, but he needs to humbly give ear to the advice of his specialists to avoid following the same rut as his predecessor.

A problem besetting Japan's diplomacy is its declining budget for official development assistance, which has been an important card for years.

The ODA this fiscal year dropped to nearly half the level of its peak in fiscal 1997. From its position at the top of world rankings for total assistance in 2000, Japan has remained in fifth place since 2007. Japan must stop its position from declining by boosting the assistance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2010)
(2010年6月27日01時24分 読売新聞)

W杯ベスト16 組織力生かしさらに上位を

2010-06-27 09:04:52 | 英字新聞
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 27, 2010)
Teamwork is Japan's World Cup weapon
W杯ベスト16 組織力生かしさらに上位を(6月26日付・読売社説)

Japan's national soccer team has qualified for the knockout phase of the greatest international event in its sport. We applaud the excellent performance of the team.

Defeating Denmark 3-1 in the first round of the soccer World Cup finals in South Africa, Japan has advanced to the top 16. This is our country's second time to qualify for the second round, following the 2002 World Cup finals jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea.

In the first half of the game with Denmark, Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo each scored with superb free kicks. Shinji Okazaki also netted a decisive goal in the second half.


Players made us proud

Seeing the Japanese players throw everything into defending against the Danes' fierce attacks, we were impressed with the national team's display of never-say-die spirit. As coach Takeshi Okada said, "I'm proud of these wonderful players."

The Danes' imposing physical stature and abilities seemed to put the Japanese at a disadvantage, but each player on the team fulfilled his particular role. Japan's victorious accession to the top 16 therefore should be attributed to its teamwork.

Japan's next game is with Paraguay on Tuesday. It surely will be a tough match, but we hope the team will exert all its strength to achieve a place in the top eight for the first time in history.

Expectations for the Japan team were not so high before the current World Cup finals kicked off, but after it beat Cameroon in its first game, public interest suddenly soared.

The average rating for the live broadcast of the Denmark game from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday was 30.5 percent of households with televisions in the Kanto region, with the highest rating reaching 41.3 percent. These are surprising figures given the early-morning time slot.

The second round is a knockout phase--losing just one game will eliminate a team. The voltage of excitement among fans is therefore certain to be crackling at an even higher level.


Asian teams ascendant

South Korea also has qualified to play in the top-16 second round. Unless teams from Asia perform well, the number of spots for the region may be reduced in the next World Cup finals. In this sense, too, it is good news that both Japan and South Korea have advanced to the second round.

Two unexpected developments were the exits of Italy and France, the champion and the runner-up, respectively, in the previous World Cup finals in 2006. Other leading European teams also have had tough games.

Many players on South American, African and Asian teams have played in the European leagues. These players improved their skills in Europe and now are threatening European teams in the World Cup.

South American teams, such as Brazil and Argentina, have so far performed well. Having seen the excellent individual skills of players on these teams, which the Japan players lack, we are impressed with the differences in playing styles.

With half of the 32 original teams eliminated, the best part of the World Cup finals now begins. We are even more excited to watch the fierce battles that will be fought to reach the world's top place.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 26, 2010)
(2010年6月26日01時08分 読売新聞)

参院選公示 政治と経済立て直しの契機に

2010-06-26 08:24:36 | 英字新聞
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 26, 2010)
Election chance to put politics, economy in order
参院選公示 政治と経済立て直しの契機に(6月25日付・読売社説)

Many people must feel that this country's backbone is in danger of splintering.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government, which replaced the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito last autumn, has brought major confusion to the political arena, rather than ushering in a new era of politics.

The economy has been mired in deflation; glimmers of hope are few and far between.

Official campaigning for the House of Councillors election kicked off after it was officially announced Thursday.  24日、参院選が公示された。

We hope each political party will present practical "prescriptions" that can cure the ills afflicting this nation, including policies that can get the economy back on its feet and diplomatic and security policies for restructuring the Japan-U.S. alliance.


Weighing pledges

Nine political parties have selected candidates in the election. The July 11 poll has become a real scramble for votes. Voters should carefully examine each party's campaign pledges to determine whether they are realistic, and its candidates to see if they are trustworthy.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama lost the confidence of the public after being tarred by a money and politics scandal. He also severely strained this country's relations with the United States over the relocation of the U.S. military's Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture. As a result, he was forced to step down just over eight months after he assumed the premiership. He was replaced by Naoto Kan.

The candidates should first discuss what the two DPJ-led cabinets achieved and how they handled the responsibility of being in government.

The DPJ has been forced to revise the child-allowance program that headlined its manifesto for last year's House of Representatives election. Payments only started this month, but the lack of a revenue source has made the allowance untenable. Despite this, the DPJ has made no attempt to review and reflect on this and its other dole-out measures.


What's the difference?

The money scandals that tainted Hatoyama and former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa remain far from resolved.

We wonder how--and whether--the Kan administration differs from the previous administration.

The Hatoyama administration was characterized by populist policies, such as an array of dole-out measures and the manner in which budget screening was conducted; bureaucrat-bashing under the name of giving politicians a greater role in running the government; money-oriented politics fueled by huge sums of cash; undemocratic tactics to ensure there was no vocal objections to Ozawa's dictatorship in the party; pro-China leanings and keeping the United States at arm's length; and strong-arm Diet management by using the party's sheer weight of numbers.

Kan was deputy prime minister and finance minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet. Can he truly break free from the nature of the former administration?

The DPJ should have sought a mandate from the people by dissolving the lower house for a general election. But because the DPJ avoided this option, it needs to fully explain these issues, otherwise voters will not be armed with enough facts to make an informed judgment on election day.

The issue of raising the consumption tax rate will be a crucial test of the Kan administration's ability to deliver.

Kan called for creation of a suprapartisan panel to discuss drastic tax reform--including the consumption tax--and hinted at raising the tax rate to 10 percent.


Debate sales tax

Raising the consumption tax rate is an obvious step if one considers the nation's critical fiscal situation and ever-expanding social security costs. The LDP made the first move on raising the tax rate to 10 percent, the DPJ has followed. We applaud both parties for being responsible enough and having the stomach to squarely face this issue.

Yet, the DPJ's policy flip-flop has been derided by some as an attempt to deflect attention from the previous administration's shortcomings.

Kan should carefully explain the reasons why raising the consumption tax rate is necessary and how the revenue will be used. He also should unveil a detailed plan for reforming the entire tax system.

Political parties that have come out against raising the consumption tax rate need to show realistic alternatives for the sake of deepening tax system debate.

The framework of the DPJ-People's New Party coalition government may need to be redesigned depending on how the parties fare in the election. This could be a golden chance for political realignment.

A handful of new parties that proclaim themselves to be a "third force" behind the DPJ and LDP have fielded many candidates. Their campaigns could affect the election success of the two major parties.

The question on many observers' lips is whether the DPJ can snatch a majority in the upper house, which, when combined with its absolute majority in the lower house, would bring about a single party government.

If the DPJ falls short of this goal, the next focus will be on whether it can secure a majority in a coalition with the PNP. If the two parties lack the seats for a majority, the DPJ might have to hop into bed with some of the "third force" parties.

The LDP has made no secret of its target of preventing the ruling parties from gaining a majority in the upper house. It apparently intends to put a brake on DPJ-led politics by bringing about a "divided Diet" in which both chambers are controlled by different political forces.

What kind of administration does this nation need? Each voter should cast their ballot with this question firmly in mind.


Ideal upper house functions

The upper house, once dubbed the "chamber of wisdom," has long been ridiculed as the "chamber of political maneuvers."

The DPJ wanted to go into the election while the Kan Cabinet rides high in public support polls and closed the Diet session without extending it. An upper house plenary session to vote on an opposition-sponsored motion to censure the prime minister was not held. Such actions besmirch the upper chamber's once lofty image of being a home to "wisdom."

The DPJ, which became the largest party in the upper chamber following the previous upper house election, shot down bills and personnel assignment plans submitted by the then LDP-New Komeito coalition government to rattle the administration and threw the political situation into chaos.

Some observers believe the authority of the House of Councillors, which has become too powerful, should be reined in. We urge each party to debate how an ideal upper house should function.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2010)
(2010年6月25日01時22分 読売新聞)

所得税論議 最高税率引き上げは問題多い

2010-06-25 07:17:38 | 英字新聞

srachai from khonkaen, thailand

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 25, 2010)
Don't be hasty to raise top income tax rate
所得税論議 最高税率引き上げは問題多い(6月24日付・読売社説)

An expert panel of the government's Tax Commission has drawn up a list of points of contention on tax system reform in an interim report it submitted to the commission.

With the nation's perilous fiscal situation in mind, the panel spelled out the importance of harnessing consumption tax as a stable revenue source to cover rising social security costs.

We think this is a reasonable suggestion.

However, we take issue with the panel's emphasis on reinforcing the progressive structure as part of this country's income tax system reform. Under the structure, an increase in individuals' income will catapult them into higher tax brackets.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has spoken publicly about the need to hike the consumption tax rate in the future. Kan seems to be trying to convince the public of the worthiness of taxing high-income earners more since a consumption tax hike would increase the financial burden shouldered by Joe Blow.


Missing the point

Indeed, some observers have pointed out that the consumption tax is regressive, which means the burden is relatively higher for low-income earners.

But that does not mean progressive tax rates for income tax should be raised. The panel is completely missing the point.

Consumption tax should be made less regressive by, for instance, reducing the tax rate on daily necessities.

Income tax revenue for fiscal 2009 is expected to dip below 13 trillion yen for the first time in 27 years, about half of the peak figure.

Currently, the burden rate of income taxation for individuals in Japan against national income is about 7 percent. The rate is 10 percent or higher in the United States and major European countries. It is a fact that income tax's role as the nation's core taxation has been eroded.

However, even if the progressive tax structure is fortified, the number of high-income earners who will pay the higher tax rates will not change. Therefore, any increase in income tax revenue growth will be marginal as a proportion of the nation's entire tax revenue.

The maximum tax rate imposed on individual income--through a combination of income tax and resident tax--was 88 percent in the 1980s.

Many people complained they lost their motivation to work because of this high rate. In response, the government cut the maximum rate to keep pace with tax system reform implemented in the United States and Britain.

The highest tax rate for income tax, with national and regional taxes combined, is now 50 percent. However, it still tops the 47.6 percent for New York City and 48 percent in France.


Lower taxable income level

We think the government should instead be cutting the lowest taxable income threshold for individuals.

Japan's lowest taxable annual income is about 3.25 million yen for a standard household consisting of a married couple with two children. This is quite high by international standards. Many people end up not having to pay tax.

If tax deductions are cut back, the lowest taxable income can also be reduced. Consequently, more income earners will be asked to pay more tax. This is inevitable if we consider a basic tenet of taxation--a wide proportion of the nation's people should bear the burden thinly.

The expert panel said fortifying the progressive structure of income taxation was important because the tax system's income redistribution function has been crippled, generating widening disparities among the people.

However, going too far in progressive taxation would be nothing but a prime example of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government's populist agenda. Before thinking about income redistribution, improving social security measures such as pension, medical care and nursing care programs should come first.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2010)
(2010年6月24日01時07分 読売新聞)