出生率1・37 確かな回復軌道に乗せるには

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 4, 2009)
More support needed to increase fertility rate
出生率1・37 確かな回復軌道に乗せるには(6月4日付・読売社説)

The nation's fertility rate has edged up, continuing a trend.
 日本の出生率が少し上昇した。

According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry statistics for 2008, the estimated number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime stood at an average 1.37, up 0.03 points from the previous year.
 2008年の人口動態統計によると、女性が生涯に産む子どもの数の推計値である「合計特殊出生率」は前年を0・03ポイント上回り、1・37になった。

The figure has now risen for three straight years.
 3年連続の上昇だ。

Last year, 1.09 million babies were born and about 730,000 couples got married, both figures showing a small increase from the previous year.
昨年は約73万組が結婚し、109万人の赤ちゃんが生まれた。いずれも前年より、わずかながら増えている。

However, the fertility rate still remains at an extremely low level of below 1.4. In addition, the increased number of babies born in 2008 is mainly attributable to the extra day gained due to it being a leap year.
 ただし、1・3台という出生率の水準が極めて低いことに変わりはない。出生数の増加も、昨年がうるう年で1日多かったことが要因である。

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Recession may see births fall

The drastic economic deterioration that began in the second half of last year may prove a major obstacle to improving the fertility rate in the future.
 また、昨年後半からの急激な経済情勢の悪化は、今後の出生率の回復に、大きな足かせとなるかもしれない。

The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research has projected that the fertility rate will remain around the 1.2 level over the next 50 years or so, and the nation's population will continue to decline.
 国立社会保障・人口問題研究所は、これから半世紀の間、出生率はほとんど1・2台で推移し、総人口は減り続けるとの見通しを示している。

Is it possible to reverse this projected fall?
 この予測を覆せるかどうか。

Now that the fertility rate has somehow recovered to nearly 1.4 after hitting a record low of 1.26 in 2005, we are at a crossroads.
05年に1・26まで落ち込んでいた出生率を、ともかく1・4近くまで戻した今が正念場だろう。

Breakdowns of the 2008 data on births showed that the number of couples having a third child rose. We believe this is a positive sign--an increasing number of parents who already had two children decided to have one more to realize their dreams.
 08年の出生を細かく見ると、第3子として生まれた赤ちゃんが増加した。すでに2人の子を育てつつ、「もう1人」との望みをかなえる親が増えているのは、明るい兆しである。

On the other hand, the number of the first and second children declined from the previous year. This drop can mainly be attributed to population shrinkage in the age demographic in which a woman might be expected to have a baby.
We suspect, however, that the current social and economic situations are making many young people reluctant to marry, and even if they do so, they find they are barely able to raise one child due to social and economic reasons.
 一方で第1子、第2子は前年より減った。その時期の若い親にあたる世代の減少が要因だが、結婚をためらったり、結婚しても子どもは1人が精いっぱいだったりする社会的、経済的状況が、依然としてあるからではないか。

It will be necessary to extend more support in the fields where policy measures have proven to be effective, while taking bold new steps in areas where effects are yet to be seen.
 施策の効果が表れ始めたところは一段と後押しし、効果の見えないところは新たな手を大胆に講じていくことが必要だ。

Nevertheless, the budgets allocated to measures to address the declining birthrate have been far from sufficient.
 にもかかわらず、少子化対策の予算は乏しい。

While member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development earmark, on average, 2 percent of their gross domestic product for child- and family-related assistance, the figure is a mere 0.8 percent in Japan.
経済協力開発機構の加盟国は平均してGDP(国内総生産)の2%を子育て支援や家族関連に支出しているのに、日本は0・8%にとどまる。

The government has determined that more than 2 trillion yen in fiscal resources will be needed to pay for much-needed support measures for child-rearing.
 政府は、子育て支援を充実するには2兆円強の財源が必要だとしている。

This amount could be secured with the revenue raised by a one percentage-point consumption tax rate rise. In this respect, the consumption tax should be renamed the social security tax as soon as possible, with a view to tackling the declining birthrate.
これは1%の消費税で確保できる。少子化対策からも社会保障税の実現が急務である。

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Give minister increased powers

The current administrative system in place to address the declining birthrate does not function well, either.
 行政の体制も現状は機能的ではない。

Although the state minister in charge of declining birthrate answers to the Cabinet Office, the current minister has both a limited budget and number of officials at her disposal. The minister, in effect, plays the role of coordinator of opinions among the concerned ministries and agencies, including the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
内閣府に少子化相が置かれてはいるが、独自の予算やスタッフは少なく、厚生労働省はじめ多くの関連官庁の調整役にとどまっているのが実態だ。

If the government intends to regard taking measures to stem the declining birthrate as a key agenda for the nation, it will be necessary to create a strong organization that has the power and means to tackle all of the various issues involved.
 少子化対策を国の最重要課題と位置づけるならば、関連施策に一体となって取り組む、強力な組織が必要だろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 4, 2009)
(2009年6月4日01時30分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2009-06-04 11:58 | 英字新聞

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