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官僚会見禁止 政治主導をはき違えてないか

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Sep. 18, 2009)
Muzzling bureaucrats might be step too far
官僚会見禁止 政治主導をはき違えてないか(9月18日付・読売社説)

Members of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Cabinet agreed at an informal meeting Wednesday that regular press conferences by administrative vice ministers and other bureaucrats will be abolished, and that concerned lawmakers such as ministers instead would hold press conferences to express the official views of ministries and agencies. After the meeting, government organizations were notified of this decision.
 鳩山新内閣が、閣僚懇談会で「府省の見解を表明する記者会見は、大臣等の『政』が行い、事務次官等の定例記者会見は行わない」ことを申し合わせ、各府省に通達した。

Official press conferences by ranking ministry and agency officials such as administrative vice ministers and other top bureaucrats are valuable opportunities for the news media to ask questions on technical issues related to each ministry and agency.
 官僚トップの事務次官など、府省幹部の公式記者会見は、担当行政にかかわる専門的なテーマについて、見解をただす貴重な機会になっている。

We have no objection to the Hatoyama Cabinet's drive to transform the nation's politics from its overdependence on bureaucrats to one led by politicians.
 鳩山内閣が「官僚依存」の政治を「政治主導」へと転換させていくことに異論はない。

However, we cannot condone the new administration if it attempts--under the name of "reducing the power of bureaucrats"--to restrict opportunities for the media to ask questions and consequently infringe on the public's right to know. We want the Hatoyama administration to reconsider its decision to muzzle bureaucrats.
 しかし、その名のもと、報道機関の取材の機会を制限し、国民の「知る権利」を奪うのであれば、容認できない。官僚会見の禁止に再考を求めたい。

Banning these media conferences appears to be an attempt by the new Cabinet to show that it will not allow top ministry and agency officials to control policy direction via press conferences.
 新内閣が官僚の記者会見禁止を打ち出したのは、各府省の幹部が会見を通じて、政策を方向付けたりすることは許さない、という意思表示と言えよう。

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Drawing the line

The agreement among the Cabinet members underlines that lawmakers have responsibility for planning, adjusting and deciding policies, and that bureaucrats should help this process. This relationship between lawmakers and bureaucrats is quite reasonable.
 申し合わせでは、政策の立案・調整・決定は、「政」が責任を持って行い、「官」はこれを補佐すると強調している。この政官関係は、当然のことである。

But banning press conferences by administrative vice ministers and other bureaucrats seems excessive. It also is unclear just who "other bureaucrats" refers to.
 だが、そこで「事務次官等」の会見まで禁止するのは、明らかに行き過ぎだ。「等」がどこまでを指すのかも判然としない。

The Cabinet says ministers will allow bureaucrats to hold press conferences if their expertise is needed or the situation demands. However, the standard for this is so vague that there has already been some confusion at ministries and agencies.
 「専門性その他の状況に応じ」、大臣の判断で官僚会見も行うとしているが、基準があいまいで、各府省で混乱を生じている。

Government entities have to inform the public about many issues. Some of them are urgent matters, such as influenza outbreaks and disasters. It is unrealistic to expect lawmakers to hold every single press conference on such issues.
 各府省には、国民に知らせるべきことが数多くある。インフルエンザや災害の発生状況など緊急を要する問題もある。こうした記者会見を「政」が一手に引き受けるのは、非現実的だろう。

Of course, in an ideal world, ministers, vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries could understand every detail on all policy issues and give a full account of them. But there are question marks over whether this is really possible.
 肝心な政策問題も、大臣、副大臣、政務官らが詳細を掌握し、説明を尽くせればよいが、実際に可能なのかどうか疑問は残る。

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Unintended consequences

The new Cabinet's disdain for bureaucrats' press conferences has stirred concern that bureaucrats might feel intimidated and become hesitant to disclose information that could be necessary for the public. We are worried that bureaucrats might use the ban as an excuse not to hold press conferences, and try to conceal scandals and other problems.
 今回の通達で懸念されるのは、官僚が萎(い)縮(しゅく)し、国民に必要な情報の開示に消極的になることだ。通達を盾に会見を拒み、不祥事などを隠蔽(いんぺい)する恐れもある。

Administrative bodies are supposed to always be open to the public. The role of the news media is to watch and scrutinize ministries and agencies on behalf of the public.
 そもそも、行政機関は、常に国民からよく見える存在でなければならない。報道機関は、国民に代わって行政機関を監視する役割を担っている。

Restricting press conferences would make the policy-making process less transparent. This would go against the new government's aim of breaking the dominance of bureaucrats.
 記者会見を制限し、政策決定過程の透明性が低下することになれば、新政権の掲げる「官僚支配打破」にも反することになろう。

The agreement by the new ministers says lawmakers and bureaucrats should carry out their responsibilities for the country and its people based on a clear separation of roles. If that is the case, then by the same token, lawmakers and bureaucrats could hold different kinds of press conferences based on their respective roles.
 申し合わせでは、「政」と「官」は、役割分担に基づいて、国家国民のために職務を遂行する、としている。それならば記者会見も、それぞれ役割を分担して実施すればよいはずである。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 18, 2009)
(2009年9月18日01時31分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2009-09-18 09:03 | 英字新聞

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