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参院のあり方 「政局の府」から脱する時だ

House of Councillors needs clearer role
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 11, 2010)
参院のあり方 「政局の府」から脱する時だ(7月10日付・読売社説)

Voters cast ballots Sunday in the House of Councillors election.
 参院選は、あす投開票が行われる。

Most major parties proposed in their campaign platforms that the number of lawmakers be reduced, a proposal that strongly smacks of populism. But the more substantial issue of the role of the upper house was hardly discussed.
 各党の公約はこぞって大衆迎合色の強い議員定数削減を掲げたが、より本質的な参院の役割に関する議論はまるで低調だった。

Once considered "the chamber of wisdom," the upper house is now dubbed "the chamber of political maneuvers" because it has become a venue for power struggles between parties. Originally, the upper house was expected to have "restraining" and "supplementary" functions in relation to the House of Representatives. But we have witnessed in recent years confusion arising from interparty confrontation in the upper chamber just as is seen in the lower house.
 参院は最近、「良識の府」でなく「政局の府」と言われる。本来は、衆院に対する「抑制」や「補完」の機能が期待されながら、衆院と同様の政党間対立が持ち込まれ、混乱する例が目立つからだ。

Since the Liberal Democratic Party's major setback in the 1989 upper house election, no single party has secured a majority in the chamber, causing political instability. To control the upper house, it has become a common practice since the late 1990s to form a coalition government.
 1989年参院選での自民党大敗以来、どの政党も参院で単独過半数を獲得できず、政局の不安定要因となっている。90年代末以降は参院での多数確保のために連立政権を組むことが恒常化した。

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Needless confrontations

A divided Diet from 2007 to 2009 resulted in dysfunctional politics as we continually witnessed needless confrontation over such matters as the appointment of the Bank of Japan governor and the extension of the provisionally higher gasoline tax rate.
 2007~09年の衆参ねじれ国会では、日銀総裁人事やガソリン税の暫定税率などをめぐり、不毛な対立が繰り返され、政治の機能不全ぶりを露呈した。

Reform of the upper house is not a new issue. It has been nearly 40 years since Kenzo Kono, who held the post of upper house president, raised the issue in 1971, saying, "The upper house is now merely a carbon copy of the lower house."
 参院改革は、古くて新しいテーマだ。71年に河野謙三議長が「参院の現状は、衆院のカーボンコピーに過ぎない」と問題提起してから40年近くが経過している。

Since then, a variety of reform plans have been floated, such as one that would drop the requirement for party members to vote along party lines and another under which upper house members would be elected through a new regional representation system.
 投票時の党議拘束を外すとか、参院議員を地域代表制にするとか、様々な改革案が浮上した。

In an attempt to make the upper house "the chamber of reconsideration," a panel of experts suggested in a report it compiled in 2000 that the chamber be stripped of the right to vote for the nomination of prime minister and that its functions to monitor administrative affairs be strengthened. But these proposals failed to take form.
 00年には、参院を「再考の府」とするため、首相指名権を廃止する一方、行政監視機能を強化するという有識者会議の報告書がまとまったが、具体化しなかった。

Only some changes have been implemented. For example, an electronic push-button voting system was introduced, and budget auditing processes were improved and expedited.
 結局、実現したのは、押しボタン式投票や、決算審査の充実・迅速化などにとどまっている。

Given that the lower house has final say in budget deliberations, it is not a bad idea to let the upper house focus on budget auditing and ensuring that audit results are reflected in budget compilation.
 衆院は予算審議で優越権を持つため、参院は決算審査を重視し、その結果を予算編成にきちんと反映する、との狙いは悪くない。

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End duplication of functions

If the upper house continues to claim "distinctive" roles for itself but only repeats deliberations held in the lower house, it will ignite stronger calls to eliminate it because it is unnecessary. The roles of the upper house must be distinguished from those of the lower house.
 「参院の独自性」の名の下、衆院と同様の審議を繰り返すだけでは、参院無用論が強まろう。重要なのは衆院との役割分担だ。

For example, the upper house could be stripped of its right to vote to appoint prime ministers. Also, legislation from the lower house that is rejected by the upper house currently becomes law only if it receives a two-thirds majority in a revote in the lower house; this requirement could also be eased.
But at the same time, the power of the upper house to audit budgets should be enhanced, and the upper chamber should be given the right to first deliberate legislation in certain areas. Considering which powers should be curtailed or expanded could lead to a new shape of the upper house.
 例えば、参院の首相指名権を廃止し、衆院の再議決要件を緩和する。一方で、参院の決算審査権を拡充し、特定分野の法案の先議権を認める――。どの権限を縮小し、どの権限を拡大するかによって、新たな参院像が見えてくる。

Little progress would be made if the upper house were left to itself to reduce its own powers. To come up with concrete measures to this end, it would be appropriate to appoint a deliberative panel that includes third-party members.
 参院に自らの権限縮小を委ねても、成果は期待できない。具体策の検討は、第三者を含めた審議会で検討するのが適切だろう。

In doing so, it is imperative to separate mid- to long-term issues, which would require constitutional revisions such as easing the requirement for revoting, from others that could be handled only through revisions of laws.
 その際、再議決要件の緩和など憲法改正を要する中長期的課題と法律改正で可能な課題を分けて、取り組むことが大切となる。

Ruling and opposition parties intend to review proposed changes to the election system to be applied from the next upper house election in 2013 to correct the disparity in the value of votes. How the upper house should function is linked to its election system. Deep and comprehensive discussions are called for in this regard.
 参院各党は、「1票の格差」是正のため、13年の次回選挙から選挙制度を見直す方針だ。参院のあり方は選挙制度とも関連する。一体で議論を深めてもらいたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 10, 2010)
(2010年7月10日01時19分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2010-07-11 07:20 | 英字新聞

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