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人口急減社会の問い―生き方の再検討を迫る

2014-05-30 05:48:15 | 英字新聞

May 28, 2014
EDITORIAL: Japan's shrinking population forces us to reconsider how we live
人口急減社会の問い―生き方の再検討を迫る

Japan's projected population decline conjures up an image of a ball rolling down a steep slope.
 これから先、見込まれる日本の人口減少は、急な坂を転げ落ちるかのようだ。

According to estimates by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the nation's population will shrink to two-thirds of the current level in the next half-century, and then to one-third 100 years from now.
 国立社会保障・人口問題研究所の推計によれば、人口は約半世紀で3分の2に、1世紀で3分の1に縮む。

Three panels of experts have issued reports on how to put the brakes on the decline.
 どうすればこの流れを緩められるか。官民三つの有識者会議が相次いで報告をまとめた。

All the reports concur that there are obstacles preventing people who want to marry and have children from doing so, and that these obstacles must be removed.
 主張の核心は、どれも同じ。結婚したい、産みたいという希望がかなっていないと指摘し、障害を取り除こうと訴える。

The reports also offer similar solutions, which boil down to expanding support for parents and changing the ways of working.
 対策にも共通点が多い。支援策拡充と働き方の改革である。

The Japan Policy Council, a private research foundation that issued one of the three reports, caught the public's attention by pointing out the possibility of about half of the nation's current rural municipalities ceasing to exist if they keep losing their populations to the big cities. But aside from the JPC's dire warning, the three reports offer no new practical solutions.
 三つのうち、民間の「日本創成会議」分科会が、大都市への人口流出が続けば約半数の市区町村は消滅の可能性があると指摘し、耳目を集めた。それを除けば、さほど目新しい指摘や対策があるわけではない。

This was only to be expected, as what needs to be done is already fairly clear. But the point is whether society and the political community will be receptive to the proposed solutions and follow through.
 当然だろう。元々、やるべきことははっきりしているからだ。焦点は政治と社会に理解を広げ、実現できるかどうかだ。

CHANGING REALITY OF FAMILIES
■変わる家族の現実

What are the problems?
 何が問題なのか。

Our society is solidly established on the traditional concept of the family, which is that the husband is the sole breadwinner and the wife is a full-time homemaker. But this is no longer the reality today, while the social systems, practices and people's mind-sets are still based on the traditional concept.
 夫が「一家の大黒柱」として家族のぶんまで稼ぎ、主婦が家族の世話をする。そんな家族像を前提に、日本社会に張り巡らされた制度や慣行、人々の意識が、家族の現実にそぐわなくなっている。

The situation in Japan is conspicuously different from those in other leading industrialized countries.
 ほかの先進国と比べると、日本の特徴がくっきり浮かぶ。

Despite the growing number of households where both spouses work, policy support for child-rearing families is still far from adequate.
 子育て支援が薄い。共働きの広がりに、支援策が追いついていない。

Long working hours are still routine, partly because the sole breadwinner has always been expected to put in overtime and never complain about transfers. So long as this mind-set remains, husbands will find it difficult to help with household chores and child-rearing. Women who want to work full-time jobs are forced to work long hours just like the men, and tend to put off marrying and starting a family.
 長時間労働が際だつ。「大黒柱」は残業も転勤もいとわず働くのが当たり前だったからだ。その慣行が続いている限り、夫は家事や育児に参画しにくい。男性に負けずに働こうとすれば女性も長時間労働を強いられ、結婚や出産を先送りしがちだ。

Wage levels differ greatly by how one works. In the past, part-time work was only for married women and students, whose wages were kept low on the premise that they could depend financially on their husbands or fathers. But there is a growing number of adult men nowadays who are earning low wages as part-time workers. The current trend for women to remain single or marry late will only accelerate if they keep waiting for men who will meet all their financial needs.
 働き方による賃金格差が大きい。かつて非正社員といえば、主婦のパートと学生のアルバイトだった。夫や父親の稼ぎに頼れる前提で賃金を抑えられていた。だが、その賃金水準で働く大人の男性が増えた。女性がなお「大黒柱」を待ち望めば、未婚・晩婚が進まざるをえない。

PROBLEMS WITH 'JAPAN MODEL'
■「日本型」のつまずき

If that is the case, some people argue, then we should revive the traditional concept of family.
 ならば昔の家族を取り戻せ。

But that is a tall order. The number of households that can survive on the husband's income alone is on the decrease, and in this age of unstable employment, it is too risky to rely on just one breadwinner. Housework is done differently today from the past, too. Families change along with changes in their circumstances.
 そう考える人もいるだろう。だが、難しい。夫の収入だけで暮らせる世帯は減っているし、雇用が不安定なこの時代、「大黒柱」1本に頼るのは危うい。家事の仕方も昔とは違う。環境が変われば家族は変わる。

We already know that the changes cannot be stopped.
 変化をとめられないことは、すでに実証済みだ。

When the government declared "the first year of the welfare society" in 1973, the oil crisis that occurred that year aggravated the nation's fiscal problems. This gave rise to the concept of the "Japanese-style welfare society." The argument then was that Europe's generous welfare handouts took away people's incentive to work, whereas the Japanese spirit of self-help and reliance on one's family, not on government handouts, was truly a virtue.
 1973年の「福祉元年」宣言もつかの間、同じ年に石油危機に見舞われ、財政の悪化が進んだ。そこに登場したのが「日本型福祉社会」論だ。欧州で、手厚い福祉が勤労意欲を減退させたなどと批判し、自助や家族の支えあいこそ日本の「醇風美俗(じゅんぷうびぞく)」だと唱えた。

The Liberal Democratic Party regime of the time took advantage of this argument to curb welfare spending and proceeded to reward households with wives who stayed at home or worked only very little to shoulder burdens of caring for children and elderly parents. Specifically, the government created a system whereby women, who are married to full-time company employees and earn less than a certain level of income themselves, are qualified for old-age pensions of their own without having to pay premiums.
 自民党政権は、これを論拠に福祉を削り、負担を引き受ける主婦の優遇策を進めた。代表例が、会社員の夫を持つ主婦は、収入が低ければ保険料を払わずに年金を受け取れる制度だ。

But even this system did not stop the number of dual-income households from growing. And ironically, although it was designed to benefit low-income married women, the system had the effect of encouraging part-time workers to keep their wage levels low. This became one of the causes of the significant wage gaps that exist today. The Abe administration is currently trying to review this "Japan-style" setup by encouraging women's "active participation" in society.
 それでも共働きは広がった。収入が低い主婦を優遇する制度は低賃金労働を誘い、賃金格差の一因となった。安倍政権はいま「女性の活躍」を掲げ、こうした「日本型」の施策の見直しにとりくむ。

Outside Japan, conspicuous drops in birthrates can be found in countries such as Italy and Spain where people rely on their families for the help they need. It is only natural that when families become overburdened, people hesitate to have children.
 世界をみても、イタリアやスペインなど、家族の力に頼る国々で少子化が顕著だと指摘される。家族に負担がかかりすぎると、家族をつくることをためらうのは、当然の帰結だろう。

SUPPORTING THE NEXT GENERATION
■支える世代を支える

The burden on families will grow even further in the days ahead. In the past, there were multiple working-age people financially supporting one senior citizen under the welfare system. But the nation is fast transforming into a "piggyback" society where there will be only one working-age citizen supporting a senior citizen.
 これから、家族の負担はもっと重くなる。日本は、多くの現役世代で1人のお年寄りを支えた「胴上げ型社会」から、1人で1人を支える「肩車型社会」へと突き進んでいる。

Will the working-age people be able to bear their tax and insurance premium burdens? Will more people be forced to give up work or motherhood in order to care for their elderly parents or relatives? Something must be done to protect both the younger and older generations from collapse.
 現役世代は、税や保険料の重さに耐えられるか。親族の介護のため、仕事や出産を諦める人が増えないか。共倒れを防ぐ工夫が要る。

For one, it is vital to ensure that people will be able to function to their full capacity.
 第一に、人の力を最大限生かせる仕組みである。

This calls for a system that will allow people to work flexibly while caring for their children or elderly family members.
 たとえば、介護や子育てなどの事情に応じて柔軟に働ける制度だ。

In the Netherlands, workers are entitled to demand shorter or longer working hours according to their needs, and employers are forbidden to unfavorably treat workers because of shorter working hours. As a result, the employment rate and birthrate have gone up.
オランダでは労働者が労働時間の短縮や延長を求める権利を定め、短いからといって待遇に差をつけることを禁じた。就業率も出生率も上昇した。

Secondly, it is necessary to provide support to the younger generation that supports the elderly population.
 第二に、お年寄りを支え続けるためにも、「支える世代を支える」ことである。

The three reports from the panels of experts propose that the nation's social security system, which is currently weighted heavily in favor of the elderly, should be revised to take the needs of the younger generation into consideration. Seniors in difficult financial circumstances obviously need help, but the needs of the younger generation cannot be ignored any longer.
 三つの報告は、高齢者に偏る社会保障を見直し、子育て支援などに振り向けよと唱える。貧しいお年寄りへの配慮が前提だが、避けてはいられまい。

The report by the JPC went one step further. Noting that the terminally ill who are no longer able to eat on their own are often fed from a tube, the report urged earnest discussion of issues related to terminal care to explore desirable forms of end-of-life treatment.
 日本創成会議は、口から食べることが難しい場合、胃にチューブを通す胃ろうなど「終末期ケア」のあり方も議論すべき時期だ、と踏み込んだ。人生の最後の時期をどのように過ごすのが幸せなのか、議論を促した。

We are born, and we will all eventually die someday.
 生まれる。死ぬ。

The nation's shrinking population forces us to face life squarely and reconsider how we live. And we cannot move forward unless the entire society engages in discussion.
 人口減少は私たちに、命をみつめることを求めている。生き方、暮らし方の再検討を迫っている。社会全体での議論なしには、前に進めない。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 26

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竹富町の教科書 単独採択の容認は禍根を残す

2014-05-29 05:31:23 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:38 pm, May 27, 2014
Approval for Taketomi town to become independent school district problematic
竹富町の教科書 単独採択の容認は禍根を残す

The latest move in the Okinawa Prefecture school textbook case may become a bad precedent, we are afraid.
 教科書採択の悪あしき前例にならないか。

The Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education has approved the secession of the town board of education in Taketomi from the textbook selection council of the Yaeyama district—comprising the city of Ishigaki and the towns of Taketomi and Yonaguni—in the prefecture.
 沖縄県教育委員会が、石垣市、竹富町、与那国町による八重山採択地区から、竹富町の離脱を認めることを決めた。

The Taketomi Board of Education has been using a textbook of its own choice in public schools for more than two years, in violation of the law on the free provision of school textbooks, which stipulates that a joint textbook adoption district—comprising more than one municipality—must adopt the same textbook throughout.
 竹富町教委は、共同採択地区内で同一の教科書を採択するという教科書無償措置法に違反し、2年以上、独自に採択した教科書を使用している。

The Taketomi Board of Education did not comply with a demand for corrective action that the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry made in March based on the Local Government Law.
3月に文部科学省から地方自治法に基づく是正要求を受けたのに、従わなかった。

As the prefectural board of education has approved the Taketomi Board of Education’s establishment of an independent educational district, the Taketomi board will be able to adopt textbooks of its own choice beginning next fiscal year. We cannot help but feel doubtful about the latest development, as it seems to have caved in to the hard line taken by the town board.
 県教委が竹富町を独立した採択地区と認めたことで、竹富町教委は来年度以降に使用する教科書について、単独での採択が可能になった。ごね得とも言える展開には疑問を禁じ得ない。

We must remember that the current state of unlawfulness will remain until the end of this fiscal year. This development is quite problematic from the viewpoint of legal compliance.
 忘れてはならないのは、今年度いっぱいは、違法状態が続くことだ。法令順守の観点から、極めて問題がある。

Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura said the ministry would not file a lawsuit against the Taketomi town government to formally establish the illegality of the town board’s actions.
 下村文科相は、竹富町を相手とした違法確認訴訟は起こさない方針を表明した。

He has reportedly concluded that even if the education ministry wins the suit and has the town board change the textbook for use at public schools, it would only cause confusion in classrooms in the middle of an academic year. But this does not mean Shimomura approves of the current state of illegality.
これは、勝訴しても年度途中で使用教科書を変えると、学校現場が混乱しかねないと懸念したためだ。現在の違法状態を容認したわけではない。

The prefectural board of education carries a grave responsibility for allowing the confusion to drag on.
 混乱を長引かせた県教委の責任は、重大である。

Dispute over textbooks

In the summer of 2011, the textbook selection council of the Yaeyama district chose a civic studies textbook published by Ikuhosha Publishing Inc. for use in middle schools. The council selected the textbook because it contains a full description of territorial issues.
 八重山地区の採択地区協議会が中学校の公民教科書に育鵬社版を選んだのは、2011年夏だった。領土に関する記述が充実しているといった理由からだ。

Despite the council’s selection, however, the Taketomi Board of Education unilaterally decided to use a textbook published by Tokyo Shoseki Co.
 これに対し、竹富町教委のみが東京書籍版を採択した。

The prefectural board of education has not taken steps to have the Taketomi Board of Education take corrective action. Even when the education ministry instructed the prefectural board of education last October to demand the Taketomi Board of Education conform, the prefectural board did nothing.
 県教委は竹富町教委に、適切な働きかけをしていない。文科省が県教委に対して昨年10月、竹富町教委への是正要求を指示した際も、動かなかった。

The joint textbook adoption system allows small local municipalities with limited personnel to cooperate with each other in selecting school textbooks. Joint textbook adoption districts comprise local municipalities that share the same sense of unity geographically and culturally.
 そもそも共同採択制度は、人員に限りのある小規模自治体が協力して教科書を選ぶ仕組みだ。地理的、文化的な一体性を持つ市町村が共同採択地区を形成する。

The law on the free provision of school textbooks was revised in April as some cases emerged in which the demarcation of the joint textbook adoption district would no longer correspond to the distribution of local communities and their livelihoods due to mergers of cities, towns and villages in recent years.
 近年の市町村合併で、採択地区の線引きが現状に合わない例も出てきたため、4月に教科書無償措置法が改正された。

The revision changed the description of administrative units of joint textbook adoption districts from “cities and counties” to “cities, towns and villages,” allowing textbooks to be selected by educational districts that combine towns and villages more flexibly.
採択地区の設定単位を「市郡」から「市町村」に変え、柔軟な組み合わせができるようにしたのが特徴だ。

The Taketomi Board of Education, apparently by distorting the meaning of the legal revision to its own advantage, demanded that it could break away from the educational district. Yet the ties among municipalities within the Yaeyama district remain strong. There are no special circumstances surrounding the district due to the recent merger of municipalities. The secession of the Taketomi Board of Education was not made in line with the purport of the law revision.
 竹富町教委はこれを逆手に取って離脱を要望した。しかし、八重山地区の結びつきは今も強い。市町村合併といった事情は見当たらない。竹富町の離脱は、法改正の趣旨を踏まえたものではない。

It is only reasonable that the boards of education of Ishigaki and Yonaguni have called for leaving the current framework in place.
 石垣市と与那国町が現行の枠組みの維持を求めたのは当然だ。

It is regrettable that such a natural procedure as the board of education selecting a textbook in compliance with laws and ordinances has been ignored.
 法令を守って、教科書を採択する。当たり前のことがないがしろにされたのは、残念である。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 27, 2014)

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中国機異常接近 習政権は常軌逸した挑発慎め

2014-05-28 05:35:52 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:22 pm, May 26, 2014
China fighters’ abnormally close flying to SDF planes an aberrant provocation
中国機異常接近 習政権は常軌逸した挑発慎め

An incident has taken place that must be condemned as a thoughtless and extremely dangerous provocation, an act that came within a hair’s breadth of a midair collision. We absolutely will not overlook this occurrence.
 一歩間違えば衝突事故につながりかねない、非常識かつ極めて危険な挑発行為である。看過することはできない。

Two Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets belonging to the Chinese military flew abnormally close to a Maritime Self-Defense Force OP-3C image data acquisition plane and an Air Self-Defense Force YS-11EB electronic intelligence plane Saturday, which were flying over the high seas in the East China Sea.
 中国軍のSU27戦闘機2機が24日、東シナ海の公海上空を飛行していた海上自衛隊のOP3C画像情報収集機と、航空自衛隊のYS11EB情報収集機に異常接近した。

The incident occurred in airspace where Japan’s air defense identification zone overlaps with what China claims as its own ADIZ. One of the Chinese fighters was reported to have flown roughly 50 meters from the OP-3C aircraft, while the other came as close as about 30 meters from the YS-11EB plane.
 現場は、日本の防空識別圏と、中国が主張する防空識別圏が重なる空域である。中国軍機はOP3Cには約50メートル、YS11EBには約30メートルまで近づいたという。

International law does not explicitly stipulate the distance that airplanes should maintain from one another for safety purposes. However, the recent acts of flying extraordinarily close to the SDF planes are an affront to what are considered norms in the international community.
 国際法上、航空機同士が安全のため確保すべき距離は定められていないが、今回のような異常接近は国際常識から外れている。

On Sunday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera criticized China for its fighters’ aggressive behavior toward the SDF aircraft as “completely aberrant acts.” The Japanese government has lodged a protest over the incident through diplomatic channels, a natural response to the Chinese warplanes’ extremely close approaches.
 小野寺防衛相は「常軌を逸した近接行動だ」と中国を批判した。日本政府は外交ルートを通じ中国に抗議した。当然の対応だ。

The incident took place while China and Russia were conducting joint naval exercises in the East China Sea. The Defense Ministry said that at the time of the incident, the SDF planes were engaged in ordinary warning and surveillance duties at a considerable distance from the China-Russia exercise area. The Chinese Defense Ministry, however, issued a statement Sunday claiming that the SDF planes “monitored and interfered with the joint military drill by the navies of China and Russia.”
 東シナ海では、中国とロシアが合同演習を実施していた。防衛省によると、自衛隊機は演習区域から離れた場所で通常の警戒監視任務中だったが、中国国防省は「自衛隊機が中露合同演習を偵察、妨害した」との声明を発表した。

In the past, there have been several instances in which helicopters and airplanes of China’s State Oceanic Administration flew close to—within 100 meters—MSDF destroyers in the East China Sea.
 中国は過去にも、国家海洋局のヘリコプターや航空機が東シナ海で数回、海自の護衛艦の100メートル以内を近接飛行した例がある。

SDF must not waver

The fighter jets that made extremely close approaches to the SDF planes were equipped with missiles and capable of flying at a far higher velocity. Beijing’s attempt to unilaterally justify such a dangerous show of force is absolutely unforgivable. While paying due attention to safety, the SDF must be resolute in continuing its warning and surveillance activities.
 今回は、ミサイルを搭載し、速度も速い戦闘機だ。より危険な示威活動を一方的に正当化しようとすることは許されない。自衛隊は安全に配慮しつつ、警戒監視活動をきちんと継続すべきだ。

Behind the unusual approaches by the Chinese fighters may be the hard-line posture of the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping, which has been pursuing a policy of expanding China’s hegemony in both the East China and South China seas under the banner of building the nation into a maritime power.
 中国機の異常接近の背景には、「海洋強国」建設を掲げ、東・南シナ海で覇権の拡大を目指す習近平政権の強硬姿勢があろう。

It is worrying that the Chinese troops deployed in these areas may repeat such extreme shows of force.
 懸念されるのは、中国軍の現場部隊が今後も、過激な示威活動を繰り返しかねないことだ。

As demonstrated by an incident in January last year, in which a Chinese frigate locked its weaponry radar on an MSDF destroyer in the East China Sea, it is highly likely that the Chinese military has yet to put in place rules of engagement that would clearly prohibit military acts that run contrary to international norms.
 昨年1月の海自艦船へのレーダー照射事件で明らかになったように、軍隊の国際常識に反する行為を明確に禁止する部隊行動基準(ROE)さえ中国軍には整っていない可能性が高いと見られる。

In reference to the radar-locking incident, a meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium held in China in April this year with 21 countries taking part adopted the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, defining such acts as targeting radar at a foreign naval vessel as “actions to be avoided.”
 レーダー照射に関しては、今年4月、中国で開かれた21か国の西太平洋海軍シンポジウムで採択された行動規範で、「回避すべき行動」に位置づけられた。

Japan, for its part, should draft an international code of conduct and a set of rules regarding military affairs for the prevention of a contingency or a collision of warships or aircraft, in close cooperation with the United States and other relevant countries, with the aim of persistently urging China to participate in the framework of rules.
 日本は、米国や関係国と緊密に連携し、不慮の事故や衝突を防止する軍事的な国際行動規範やルールを策定して、中国に参加を粘り強く促すことが重要だ。

Efforts should also be made to resume currently stalled consultations between Tokyo and Beijing to formulate a bilateral “maritime liaison mechanism” focusing on such matters as the establishment of a hotline between senior defense officers of the two countries, with a view to achieving an agreement on the matter as early as possible.
 制服組幹部間のホットライン設置などを柱とする日中の「海上連絡メカニズム」の協議も再開し、早期合意を目指したい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 26, 2014)

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国会改革 党首討論の定例化から始めよ

2014-05-27 05:24:57 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:08 pm, May 25, 2014
Reform of Diet should give priority to regular debates among party heads
国会改革 党首討論の定例化から始めよ

Working-level members from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner New Komeito as well as the Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) have compiled measures to make Diet debates more efficient and substantial. The issue, pending from last year, has finally moved forward.
 自民、公明の与党と民主党、日本維新の会の4党実務者が国会審議の効率化と充実に向けた具体策をまとめた。昨年来の懸案が、ようやく前進したことになる。

After coordinating their proposals with other parties, the four parties should seek to have them adopted by the Diet in the next session.
 他党とも調整した上で、次の国会から適用すべきだ。

The pillar of their proposals is to reduce the appearances of the prime minister and Cabinet ministers before the Diet, and, instead, hold debates once a month in principle among the party heads from the ruling and opposition parties on essential issues.
 4党案は、首相や閣僚の国会出席を軽減する代わりに、与野党の党首が論戦する党首討論を原則、毎月1回開催することが柱だ。

The Japanese prime minister and Cabinet members are tied up with Diet schedules far more than their counterparts in the United States and European nations. It is a matter of course for the government to be made accountable, but it is putting the cart before the horse to require these leaders to answer questions in the Diet at the expense of their diplomatic and domestic political duties.
 欧米各国と比べて、日本の首相や閣僚は国会に拘束される時間が突出して長い。政府が国会で説明責任を果たすのは当然だが、国会答弁に追われて外交や内政にしわ寄せが生じるなら本末転倒だ。

It is appropriate to lighten the burdens of the prime minister and Cabinet members so as to allow them to dedicate their energies to their primary duties.
 首相と閣僚の負担を減らし、本来の業務に力を振り向けさせるのは妥当な考え方である。

Under the proposals, the prime minister’s attendance at both chambers’ budget committees would be limited to basic and concluding question-and-answer sessions and “intensive deliberations on certain issues deemed necessary.” Without stretching the interpretation of this stipulation, the prime minister’s attendance in the Diet should be limited.
 4党の案は、首相の予算委員会出席を基本的質疑や締めくくり質疑、「必要と認められる特定の事案に関する集中審議」に限定した。この規定を拡大解釈せず、首相の出席は抑制すべきだろう。

Supplementing the reduced duties of the prime minister with more debates among the party heads is a significant idea. There are many challenges that party heads must debate, such as the revision of the government’s constitutional interpretation over the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Abenomics economic policies and reforms of the nation’s social security system.
 負担軽減の一方で、党首討論を活用する意義は大きい。集団的自衛権行使を巡る憲法解釈の変更問題や、安倍政権の経済政策「アベノミクス」、社会保障制度改革など、政党のトップ同士が論ずべき課題は多い。

No debates so far this year

Under the current system, party heads are supposed to hold debates once a week in principle. But there is an agreement among the parties that debates will not be held in weeks when the prime minister has to attend such Diet meetings as plenary and Budget Committee sessions.
 現在も党首討論は、週1回開催を原則としているが、首相が本会議や予算委などに出席する週は開かないとの申し合わせがある。

As the opposition parties prefer Budget Committee sessions, where it is easier for them to secure more time for questioning, debates among party heads have not been held so far this year. Party heads should be required to hold regular debates as part of this reform so party leaders will be able to hold substantial debates from a broader perspective.
 野党は、党首討論より審議時間を確保しやすい予算委を優先していることなどから、今年は一度も開かれていない。今度こそ定例化を実現し、大局的な観点からの論議を充実させるべきだ。

To make Diet deliberations on lawmaker-sponsored bills more meaningful, the proposals call for holding free debates between Diet members. As most bills submitted to the Diet are by the Cabinet, it is essential to promote legislation initiated by lawmakers.
 議員提出法案の審議を充実させるため、議員同士による自由討議を活用するという。多くの法案は内閣提出だ。議員立法の活用も進めねばならない。

Among other recommendations are that overseas trips by Cabinet members be approved in principle and that the senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries take charge for absent ministers. Reducing the burden on bureaucrats preparing ministers’ Diet answers by requiring Diet members to submit questions to the government early is also included in the proposals. Since these measures are all expected to make Diet deliberations more efficient, we hope the proposals will be carried out in their entirety.
 閣僚の海外出張を基本的に容認し、副大臣や政務官らが対応するとした。国会議員が質問内容を早い段階で政府に通告し、答弁準備にあたる官僚の負担を軽減させるという。いずれも国会審議を効率化する効果が期待できる。徹底してもらいたい。

Their proposals, however, are unsatisfactory in that they do not address the problem of a divided Diet, a situation in which the House of Councillors is controlled by the opposition, while the ruling camp has a majority in the House of Representatives. During the years of such a split Diet, opposition parties frustrated administrations by rejecting the government’s personnel appointments that required Diet approval. Narrowing the range of personnel appointments requiring Diet approval also merits consideration.
 物足りないのは、衆参のねじれに対応する取り組みを見送ったことだ。ねじれ国会では、野党は衆参両院の同意を必要とする国会同意人事を否決し、政権を揺さぶった。同意人事の範囲を絞るなどの見直しを検討してはどうか。

The ruling and opposition parties should calmly tackle such a challenge now that the Diet is no longer divided.
 与野党は、ねじれが解消した今こそ、こうした課題に冷静に取り組むべきである。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 25, 2014)

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(社説)年金受給年齢 信頼をこわさぬように

2014-05-26 08:14:25 | 英字新聞

May 24, 2014
EDITORIAL: Securing public confidence vital for pension reform
(社説)年金受給年齢 信頼をこわさぬように

A hot topic in the media is when is the best time for people to start receiving pension benefits.
Interest in the issue surged after Norihisa Tamura, the welfare minister, indicated that the government will consider allowing people to push back the age at which they start receiving benefits to 75.
 「年金を何歳から受け取り始めるか」という議論が、メディアで話題を集めている。きっかけは田村厚生労働相が、75歳まで遅らせる選択肢を検討する意向を示したことだ。

Discussions on the minimum or best age to claim state pension benefits tend to cause misunderstandings. The government should tread carefully in considering any related proposal to avoid undermining public confidence that is vital for the health of the state pension program.
 年金の受給開始年齢をめぐる議論は誤解も生みやすい。公的年金の生命線である「信頼感」を損ねないよう注意深く進めるべきだ。

First of all, it should be noted that Tamura did not say the age of eligibility, or the earliest age at which people can claim benefits, will be delayed to 75.
 まず、厚労相は「75歳からしか受け取れなくする」と言ったわけではない。

Currently, people can freely choose the age to start receiving benefits between ages 60 and 70. The proposal Tamura referred to would raise the maximum age to 75.
 いま、年金を受け取り始める年齢は60歳から70歳の間で自由に選べる。それを最長75歳まで遅らせることを可能にしてはどうかという提案だ。

If you begin receiving benefits earlier, you will naturally receive money over a longer period, but the monthly amount will be smaller. If you delay the start, the monthly benefits will be larger.
 早くから受け取れば、もらえる期間が長くなり、その分、1カ月あたりの年金額は減る。逆に遅くすれば、月額は増える。

People can choose the age at which they become pensioners according to their own life plans.
これは個々人が自分の人生設計に照らして考えればいい。

What is controversial is the proposal to increase the age of eligibility for all recipients as a way to improve the financially troubled pension system.
 問題は、年金財政を好転させるために、受給開始年齢を一律に遅らせる考え方だ。

This approach would increase funds to finance pension benefits for future retirees by reducing current pension payouts.
当面の年金給付額が削減される分、将来世代に年金を払う原資が増えるメリットがある。

But this idea would not necessarily benefit younger generations because the age of eligibility cannot be raised at once.
 ただ、若い世代はみなメリットがあるかと言えば、そうでもない。年齢の引き上げは一気にできないからだ。

Currently, the earliest age retired corporate employees can claim the earnings-linked second tier of benefits under the employees’ pension program is being increased in stages from 60 to 65.
The entire process, from the decision to increase the pension age to the completion of the increase, will take 25 to 30 years.
 現在、厚生年金(報酬比例部分)の受給開始年齢は60歳から65歳に段階的に引き上げられているが、これも決定から完了まで25~30年かけている。

Even if the government decides now to increase the age of pension eligibility to 68 for all retired employees, the decision would not affect today’s elderly pensioners.
 仮に現時点で受給開始年齢を一律に68歳に引き上げることを決めても、今の高齢者には影響を与えない。

Cuts in benefits due to the increase in the age of eligibility would start with young generations who tend to be deeply discontent with the current pension system. That means this idea would not do much to reduce the pension gap between generations.
 給付削減は、年金に強い不信を抱く若い世代から始まることになり、世代間の格差を緩和する効果は薄い。

The step could even increase young generations’ resentment toward the system and create an enormous wave of distrust of the whole social system that is supposed to support people’s retirement.
不満は一層高まり、老後を支える社会システム全体への不信の爆発へと連鎖する恐れがある。

Rather, the government should focus on considering reform measures that also affect people who are already receiving pensions. Ideas that merit serious consideration include a system for macroeconomic adjustment that would reduce pension payouts if the population shrinks, as well as reviews of the taxation on pensions and assets.
 それより、すでに年金を受け取り始めている層にも効く改革案、たとえば人口減少などにあわせ給付を抑える「マクロ経済スライド」の早期発動、年金や資産への課税見直しなどを優先的に検討すべきだろう。

What is crucial is to reassure people that they will receive pension benefits to help support themselves until the end of their lives. To ensure such a sense of security, the government should figure out the levels of benefits that need to be maintained while taking effective steps to increase job opportunities for the elderly.
 生きている限り、生活を支えられる現金が受け取れる――。この安心感を担保するため、高齢者雇用を広げながら、どのくらいの年金水準を維持すべきかを考えていきたい。

If the government rushes into cuts in benefits in its efforts to ensure the financial sustainability of the pension plan, it would risk raising fears among people that they will not receive sufficient pensions in their retirement. That would make absolutely no sense.
 年金財政の帳尻を、給付削減で合わせようとするあまり、多くの国民が「年金がない。あっても低すぎる」と絶望に陥ってしまっては元も子もない。

Policymakers should not forget the importance of combining employment and pension for making people’s retirement financially secure.
 老後の生活は、雇用と年金をあわせて支えていく。この視点を忘れるべきでない。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 24

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