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市町村合併 特例法後も息長く取り組め

The Yomiuri Shimbun(May. 25, 2009)
Municipal mergers should continue
市町村合併 特例法後も息長く取り組め(5月25日付・読売社説)

Strengthening the administrative and fiscal footing of local governments and establishing frameworks to undertake decentralization--these are admirable basic guiding principles for mergers of municipalities. From a mid- to long-term perspective, it is important to continue such efforts.
 自治体の行財政基盤を強化し、地方分権の受け皿を作る――。市町村合併の基本的な方向性は間違っていない。中長期的な視点から、粘り強く取り組み続けることが肝要だ。

A draft proposal compiled by the local system research council, an advisory panel to the prime minister, suggested that a merger promotion campaign end when the current law aimed at promoting municipal mergers expires at the end of March. The proposal apparently came out of a judgment that there is a limit to the number of municipal mergers that can be encouraged with measures currently employed.
 第29次地方制度調査会の答申素案は、現行の合併特例法の期限が切れる来年3月末で合併推進運動を一区切りさせる方針を示した。今の手法で市町村合併を促すのは限界があると判断したものだ。

Through the so-called Heisei-era megamergers, the number of municipalities is to decrease from 3,232 in March 1999 to 1,760 or fewer by March 2010.
 「平成の大合併」では、1999年3月に3232あった市町村数が2010年3月には約55%の1760以下に減る見通しだ。

But since April 2006, when special bond issuance as a fiscal assistance measure for municipal mergers was abolished, the rate of decrease has slowed, with a mere 61 communities consolidated through mergers since that time. There still are 471 small municipalities whose population is less than 10,000.
 ただ、合併特例債の発行という財政支援措置がなくなった06年4月以降の減少は、わずか61にとどまる。人口1万人未満の小規模自治体が471も残されている。

Although it is inevitable to put an end, at least for the moment, to the merger facilitation project, each municipality should voluntarily continue seeking mergers. Both the central and prefectural government should support such moves.
 合併推進運動の一時終了はやむを得ないとしても、各市町村は今後も、自主的な合併を追求し続けるべきだ。政府と都道府県も、側面支援する必要がある。

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Consolidation brings efficiency

In the draft proposal, the panel called for revising systems to allow joint establishment of internal organizations by a number of municipalities to improve local administrative efficiency as an alternative to a full merger.
 答申素案は、地方行政の効率化のため、合併以外の選択肢として、複数の市町村による内部組織の共同設置などを可能にする制度改正を提言している。

This idea is based on the assumption that organizational functions of attracting businesses and promoting tourism could be shared. Such wide-ranging cooperation among municipalities may possibly start the ball rolling for future mergers. Positive consideration should be given to the idea.
 企業誘致や観光PRの部署などの共有を想定したものだ。こうした市町村の広域連携が、将来の合併の機運を醸成することもあろう。前向きに検討すべきだ。

Municipal mergers are aimed at improving administrative efficiency to cope with a shrinking and aging population coupled with a declining birth rate. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has estimated that such improvement could save as much as 1.8 trillion yen, including a reduction of 540 billion yen in personnel spending, annually in fiscal 2016 and after.
 市町村合併は、人口減少・少子高齢化社会に備えた行政の効率化が目的だ。総務省の試算では、2016年度以降の効率化の総額は、5400億円の人件費節減を含め、年1・8兆円にも上る。

Coupled with reform efforts for decentralization, a plan is being considered to transfer 359 administrative powers under 64 laws from prefectural governments to municipal governments. It is important that transfer of fiscal resources be implemented simultaneously.
 地方分権改革とも連動し、64の法律の359の事務権限を都道府県から市町村に移譲することが検討されている。財源の移譲も同時に実現することが重要だ。

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Problems remain

Adverse effects, meanwhile, have been pointed out. They include regional confrontations within newly merged municipalities as well as gaps between residents' expectations of improved administrative services and the reality of the actual situations.
 一方で、弊害も指摘されている。合併自治体内の地域対立や、行政サービス向上に対する住民の期待と現実との落差である。

In a series of local elections in April, incumbent candidates ran in 39 mayoral races, but were defeated in 17 cities--all of them newly merged. Dissatisfaction among local residents who complained about the focus of their respective municipalities' administrative work on city centers reportedly was a major factor behind the failure of incumbents to win reelection.
 4月のミニ統一地方選では、現職が出馬した39市長選のうち、17市で現職が落選した。いずれも合併市で、背景には、「市の施策が中心部に偏っている」といった市民の不満もあったとされる。

It also is said that the dire financial situation faced by local governments resulting from cuts in tax grants from the central government--part of the so-called triple reform of local finances involving cuts in subsidies, a transfer of tax revenue sources and a review of local tax grants--and sluggishness of regional economies, dealt a blow to the candidates.
 三位一体改革による地方交付税の削減や地方経済の低迷が重なり、自治体財政が困窮していることも影響したようだ。

It is important that newly merged municipalities pay careful attention to regional gaps and implement policy measures to enable residents to feel the benefits of mergers. In some new municipalities, autonomous communal organizations for residents of former towns and villages consolidated through mergers have been set up in an attempt to promote regional development. These kind of efforts should spread more widely.
 合併自治体は、地域格差に目配りしつつ、住民が合併効果を実感できる施策に努めることが大切だ。旧町村に自治組織を設立し、地域振興に取り組んでいる例もある。こうした試みを広げたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 25, 2009)
(2009年5月25日01時26分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2009-05-25 12:02 | 英字新聞

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