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消費税論議 首相が逃げては話が進まぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 18, 2010)

Hatoyama must join consumption tax debate
消費税論議 首相が逃げては話が進まぬ(4月17日付・読売社説)

Leading members of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Cabinet have recently spoken in favor of increasing the consumption tax rate. The Hatoyama administration should not let their remarks simply be gestures to attract voters' attention for the upcoming House of Councillors election in summer; it must lead the way toward full-scale debate aimed at actually increasing the tax.
 鳩山内閣の主要閣僚から、消費税率の引き上げに前向きな発言が相次いでいる。夏の参院選をにらんだポーズに終わらせず、具体化に向けた本格的な議論につなげるべきだ。

It was Finance Minister Naoto Kan who first spoke on the issue.
 口火を切ったのが菅財務相だ。

"As long as there are no problems with the way we use the increased revenue from a tax rate increase, the economy will improve," Kan said.
National Policy Minister Yoshito Sengoku made similar comments later.
"It'd be an insult to voters if we went into an election ignoring budget revenue reform," Sengoku stressed.
「増税しても使い道を間違えなければ景気がよくなる」と指摘し、仙谷国家戦略相も「歳入改革を掲げて選挙しなければ、国民に失礼だ」と強調する。

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'Nation will go broke'

There is a subtle difference between Kan and Sengoku's arguments for a tax hike: Kan's top priority is fiscal action to help get this country out of its deflationary spiral, while Sengoku sees fiscal rehabilitation as his key concern.
 デフレ脱却に向けた財政出動を念頭に置く菅氏、財政再建を重視する仙谷氏と、増税論の立場は微妙に異なる。

They share a sense of crisis, however: If the situation is left as it is, the economy will not recover and the nation's finances will starve to death, as it were. It was rather late in the day for Kan and Sengoku to take the bold step of arguing for drastic reform of tax revenues, including reform of the consumption tax system, but it was a natural action for ministers tasked with guarding the economy.
 だが、このままでは景気は回復せず、財政が破綻(はたん)するとの危機感は共通する。両氏が消費税を含む税財政の抜本改革に踏み込んだのは遅きに失した感はあるが、経済担当閣僚として当然であろう。

In contrast, Hatoyama simply repeated he would not raise the consumption tax rate for four years while he heads the government during his current term as a member of the House of Representatives. The dominant opinion within Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan also is wishy-washy about a tax hike; the party feels the consumption tax rate should not be raised as it was not in the party's manifesto for the lower house election last year.
 これに対し、鳩山首相は4年間の任期中、消費税を上げないと繰り返し、民主党内の大勢も「衆院選公約になかった消費税増税をすべきではない」と及び腰だ。

However, the government cannot get round an increase in the consumption tax rate if it wants to cover social security spending, which is increasing by 1 trillion yen annually, and rehabilitate the nation's finances at the same time.
 しかし、年1兆円ずつ増える社会保障費を賄いつつ、財政を立て直すには消費税率の引き上げが避けて通れない。それは多くの国民が受け入れつつある。

Much of the public is coming to accept this, as clearly shown by the results of a March opinion poll by The Yomiuri Shimbun. In the survey, 66 percent of respondents said they approved of the government's decision to study the possibility of raising the consumption tax rate, well above the 28 percent who did not approve.
 読売新聞が3月に実施した世論調査で、消費税について引き上げの検討を「評価する」とした回答が66%にのぼり、「評価しない」の28%を大きく上回ったことでも明らかだろう。

Economic organizations have also proposed a major increase in the consumption tax rate.
 経済団体も消費税率の大幅な引き上げを提言している。

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Don't evade discussion

Given this country's fiscal situation, it will be very difficult to suppress discussion of consumption tax reform. In the fiscal 2010 budget, tax revenue accounts for only 40 percent of the total expenditures of 92 trillion yen. The situation is truly critical.
 わが国の財政事情は、消費税論議を封印できるほど甘くはない。2010年度予算は、92兆円の歳出を賄う税収が4割しかない危機的な状況だ。

The combined public debt of the central and local governments is estimated to be 862 trillion yen at the end of fiscal 2010, or 181 percent of the estimated gross domestic product. This is in stark contrast to other major nations, whose percentages of public debts account for between 60 and 70 percent of their GDPs.
 国と地方の債務残高は10年度末で862兆円、国内総生産(GDP)に対する割合は181%に達する。60~70%にとどまる先進国の中では突出している。

The Hatoyama Cabinet is scheduled to come up with new policies on various economic issues by the end of June, including midterm fiscal targets, pension system reform and details of its new growth strategy. Whether these policies prove trustworthy will depend on whether the government can secure stable revenue sources. It has no hope of doing so without a consumption tax hike.
 鳩山内閣は6月までに中期財政目標、年金制度改革、成長戦略など様々な経済テーマについて新方針を打ち出す。その内容が信頼に値するかどうかは、安定財源の確保にかかる。消費税抜きでは、それも期待できまい。

The government's Tax Commission has begun studying how to reform the consumption tax but has not yet started discussing whether the tax rate should be raised. It has just been waiting for politicians to decide what to do.
 政府税制調査会も消費税の扱いについて検討を始めたが、引き上げの是非などには踏み込まず、政治の決断待ちの状態だ。

Opposition parties have criticized the Hatoyama Cabinet for "taking fiscal policy too lightly." Thus it is inevitable that the consumption tax issue will become a focal issue in the upper house election.
 野党は鳩山内閣の姿勢を「財政軽視」と批判しており、消費税問題が参院選の争点に浮上するのは必至の情勢だ。

We hope Hatoyama will not look away from the consumption tax issue, but join in the debate openly and boldly.
鳩山首相は消費税から目をそらさず、堂々と論戦に臨んでほしい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,April 17, 2010)
(2010年4月17日01時30分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2010-04-18 10:53 | 英字新聞

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