「ほっ」と。キャンペーン

斜陽の年―興隆、衰退そして再生へ

2010/12/30
--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 29
EDITORIAL: The year of decline
斜陽の年―興隆、衰退そして再生へ

Kanagi, a district in the city of Goshogawara in Aomori Prefecture, is the birthplace of novelist Osamu Dazai (1909-1948). It can be reached in 90 minutes after switching from the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to local lines at the recently opened Shin-Aomori Station.
 全通したばかりの東北新幹線で新青森駅へ。さらに在来線と津軽鉄道を乗り継ぐ。うまくいって1時間半ほどで五所川原市金木(かなぎ)町に着く。太宰治のふるさとである。

Dazai was born into a family of wealthy landowners. He grew up in a stately, semi-Western-style mansion surrounded by four-meter-high brick walls. The estate was sold off after World War II, but has been preserved as a museum-cum-monument to Dazai. It is called Shayo-kan after one of his most representative works, "Shayo" (The Setting Sun).
 太宰の生家は津軽の大地主だった。高さ4メートルのれんが塀で囲まれた和洋折衷の重厚な建物は、戦後人手に渡り、斜陽館として保存されている。

Japan was "reset" and had to start over from scratch after its defeat in World War II. That was 65 years ago, but people today are feeling a pervasive sense of decline. It is as if we were all standing, paralyzed, in front of the snow-covered Shayo-kan.
 敗戦は日本をいったんゼロにリセットした。それから65年後の今年、日本を覆うのは、やり場のない斜陽の感覚である。雪に覆われた巨大な館の前でみな立ちすくんでいるかのようだ。

Dizzying rise and fall
■目まぐるしい盛衰

Let's say Japan was a newborn baby in 1945. When it was 11 years old, "the immediate postwar era" was declared over. Finishing elementary education that year, the youngster grew strong and healthy, and was only 19 years old when it debuted in the international community with the successful 1964 Tokyo Olympics. And as a vigorous young adult of 25, it went on to host the Expo '70 in Osaka.
 1945年にゼロ歳の日本ちゃんが生まれたとしよう。11歳で「もはや戦後ではない」と初等教育を終え、若々しく成長し、19歳で早くも五輪を成功させ国際デビューする。伸び盛りの25歳の時には万博も開いた。

Japan's growth slowed somewhat during the oil shock years, but by the time it was in its 30s, the entire population of 100 million felt comfortable enough with their lives to consider themselves middle-class. At age 40, Japan topped the world in net overseas assets. This aroused criticism that Japan was making too much money, which led to the Plaza Accord of 1985 that drastically raised the yen's exchange value against the U.S. dollar and induced the asset-inflated bubble economy.
 石油ショックなどがあって成長の速度は落ちたが、30代になると一億総中流を自任した。40歳で対外純資産が世界1位になった。さすがにもうけすぎだと言われて、プラザ合意で為替レートが一変しバブルが始まる。

The Cold War ended when Japan was in its mid-40s, and the bubble burst soon after. At 50, Japan was hit by the Great Hanshin Earthquake and terrorist attacks by the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo. From around that time, Japan began to experience health problems, and even the potent but potentially lethal drug of "reforms" prescribed by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi didn't help.
At 65 today, Japan is still too young to be wasting away. But it has certainly lived quite an eventful life in a relatively short time.
 40代半ばのころ東西冷戦が終わり、その後バブルが崩壊する。50歳の時に阪神大震災とオウム事件に遭った。そのころから病気がちになり、小泉改革の劇薬も効かず65歳の今にいたる。このまま老衰するわけでもあるまいが、人の一生に等しい短い時間で目まぐるしい盛衰を経験しつつある。

In terms of gross domestic product, Japan is believed to have fallen to third in the world after China this year. Japan Airlines Corp., whose corporate logo once symbolized hope for people dreaming of traveling abroad, went bankrupt. University students planning to join the work force upon graduation are stuck in a barren "ultra-ice age." This year also brought into light the existence of many "paper centenarians" who are either long dead or whose whereabouts are unknown.
And for the 13th consecutive year, Japan will very likely have more than 30,000 suicides during 2010.
 今年おそらく国内総生産で世界2位の座を中国に譲った。鶴のマークが海外への希望の象徴だった日本航空は破綻(はたん)した。大学生の就職は超氷河期。所在不明の高齢者は続出し、自殺者は13年連続で3万人を超えそうだ。

The Democratic Party of Japan, which came into power in a historic regime change that enthralled many voters, has since muddled and stumbled along so badly that it has become, most ironically, a telling reminder of where the nation stands today.
 国民の期待を背負って政権に就いたはずの民主党の迷走は、日本の立ち位置を皮肉な形で示してくれた。

Across the Pacific, U.S. President Barack Obama, who won the 2008 presidential election on his campaign message of "change," is now struggling under the crippling weight of Big Business and conservatism. And China is not curbing its ambitions for military capabilities commensurate with its growing economy, nor has it succeeded in controlling domestic discontent resulting from widening social disparities.
 変化を掲げたオバマ米大統領は、巨大資本の呪縛や保守派の攻勢で身動きがとれない。中国は拡大する経済に見合った軍事力への渇望や、広がる格差が生む動揺を抑え切れていない。

The dwindling population
■人口減社会の行方

The United States is losing its power of domination and China is gaining strength. Japan is unsure what sort of relations it should have with these two giants to the east and the west, both of which have their own problems. And with the emergence of countries such as India and South Korea, Japan's presence in Asia continues to diminish.
 それぞれに矛盾を抱え、支配力を失っていく東の大国と、力をつけていく西の大国とどう付き合っていくのか、日本の姿勢は定まらない。インドや韓国の台頭もあって、アジアでの存在感は希薄になるばかりだ。

Globalized by the Internet and market standardization, the world today can no longer be controlled by any country--not even the United States, the nation responsible for globalization. WikiLeaks and similar organizations have made it quite clear that globalization is no longer just about economics, but about politics and society as well.
 インターネットと市場の標準化によってグローバル化した世界は、その創設者である米国にも他のどの国にも制御できなくなってしまった。その流れが経済だけでなく、政治や社会全体に及んでいることがウィキリークスなどの登場ではっきりした。

In our new Net-connected world where national borders don't exist, there is no "center" nor "remote land." We don't even really know who is making this world turn, and many people naturally feel the unease of being controlled by some unknown party or parties.
 国の枠を超えて直接つながった新しい世界には中心も辺境もない。誰がそれを動かしているかもわからない。えたいの知れないものに支配されるような不安が人々を襲っている。

The greatest cause of our sense of decline lies in our awareness that Japan is "shrinking." In November, the Economist magazine ran a special report on Japan. The subject was Japan's declining population due to the aging of society combined with low birth rates. The fact that the British magazine discussed this subject meant that the world is interested in how Japan, the hapless front-runner in the field, will deal with its problem.
 斜陽感を生む原因の最たるものは、国が縮んでいくことだ。英国の雑誌エコノミストは11月、「日本の重荷」という特集を組んだ。主題は少子高齢化による人口減少である。この点では、世界の先端を走る日本の動向が注目されているということだ。

If the trend continues, Japan's working population, which was 87 million in 1995, will have shrunk to 52 million by 2050. Japan's population pyramid, or age structure diagram, will then resemble a wide-mouth urn. The nation's power will wane, and its pension and social security systems will go bankrupt, the report warned.
 今のままでは95年に8700万人いた労働人口が2050年までに5200万人にまで減る。人口ピラミッドは上の方が広いつぼのような形になる。国力は衰退し、年金制度や社会保障は行き詰まる、という警告である。

Of course, Japanese know all that without being told by a foreign publication. However, are we thinking about it seriously enough? It's not like we can hope for someone to come along and solve it for us.
 そんなことは外国から言われなくともわかっている。だが、わかっていても私たちは真剣に考えているだろうか。いつか誰かが、どうにかしてくれるわけはない。

To go back to the analogy of Japan as someone born in 1945, Japan should have thought about the next generation when it was in its 40s, still young and vigorous.
 日本ちゃんの比喩で言えば、まだ元気な40代ぐらいまでに次世代のことを考えるべきだったのだ。

What needs to be done is clear: Create an environment that will make raising a family easy for everyone; build a system that is kind to working mothers; and welcome foreigners into our society. All these steps are absolutely necessary, and unless we proceed with dramatic swiftness, it will be too late.
 対策ははっきりしている。子どもを産み育てやすい環境をつくる。女性が働きやすい仕組みをつくる。外国から人を入れる。どれもが必要で、劇的に進めないともう間に合わない。

Learning from human history
■人類史から学ぶ

Professor Michael Sandel's "Justice" series of lectures at Harvard University attracted keen attention in Japan this year. People got reacquainted with classics by Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and other philosophers, probably in their search for some key that will help them out of their feeling of helplessness.
 今年、ハーバード大学の「正義」の授業が話題になり、ニーチェやマルクスが読まれた。行き詰まりを打開する鍵を探そうという思いからだろう。

When the vernacular Asahi Shimbun asked scholars to pick the top 50 books this decade, the No. 1 spot went to "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared Diamond, an American scientist. The book examines the history of the human race since the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago and discusses why some societies prosper more than others.
 朝日新聞が識者アンケートで選んだ「ゼロ年代の50冊」の1位はJ・ダイアモンド著の「銃・病原菌・鉄」だった。社会の豊かさの違いがなぜ生まれるのかを、最後の氷河期が終わった1万3千年前からの人類史をひもといて論じたものだ。

In "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," a sequel to "Guns, Germs and Steel," Diamond postulates that Japan successfully maintained its densely populated society--one of the densest in the advanced world--because of its favorable natural and geographical features and the efficient management and revival of forests during the Edo Period (1603-1867).
 ダイアモンド氏は「銃……」の続編の「文明崩壊」で日本を取り上げ、先進国の中でも人口密度の高い社会が維持されてきた理由を、恵まれた自然と地勢、江戸時代に森林を管理、再生させたことなどによるとしている。

The 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya served to remind the international community that Japan's seas and forests are among the most biologically diverse in the world.
 名古屋であった「地球生きもの会議」を機に、この列島の森や海が、世界でもまれな生物多様性に富んだものであることが再認識された。

When the last ice age ended, the Jomon period was just dawning in Japan. The Japanese of that period enjoyed nature's abundant blessings, made sharp stone implements and produced some of the world's oldest pottery.
 最後の氷河期が終わったころ、日本は縄文草創期である。縄文人は豊かな自然の中で、鋭利な石器を削り、世界で最古級の土器をつくった。

Even while sensing our nation's decline, we must remind ourselves that we are still blessed enough to be living in a rich natural environment. And we already have an ample store of knowledge and social capital. If we continue to draw upon this store to create something new, we should be able to keep contributing to the international community.
 斜陽の気分の中で思い起こすべきなのは、私たちはなお恵まれた環境にいるということだ。知識や社会資本も十分に蓄えられている。それらを土台に何か新しいものを生みだし続けていく。そうすれば、これからも世界で役割を果たしていけるだろう。

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by kiyoshimat | 2011-01-05 11:26 | 英字新聞

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