世界の荒波にひるまぬニッポンを 大胆な開国で農業改革を急ごう

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 1, 2011)
Plotting a course through rough seas
世界の荒波にひるまぬニッポンを 大胆な開国で農業改革を急ごう(1月1日付・読売社説)

At a time when the world is struggling in rough waters, with a storm threatening to hit at any minute, the helmsman of our Nippon Maru (ship of Japan) is quite undependable. If things are left as they are, we risk not just drifting away but sinking. Where on earth is our nation headed?
 四海の波は高く、今にも嵐が襲来する恐れがあるというのに、ニッポン丸の舵(かじ)取りは甚だ心もとない。このままでは漂流どころか、沈没の危険すらある。いったい、我々はどこへ行くのか。

Such is the uneasiness that hangs over the nation's politics under the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
 菅首相率いる民主党主導の日本の政治には、こんな不安がつきまとう。

How can we build a nation in which we can be confident and proud of being Japanese, buoyant with anticipation of a new year? What we need now is strong political leadership that can answer this question.
 新しい年に希望をふくらませ、日本人であることに自信と誇りを持てるニッポンをどう築くのか。この問いに答える、強靱(きょうじん)な政治指導力が求められている。

Boosting Japan-U.S. ties vital
 ◆日米同盟の強化が必須◆

Almost 15 months have passed since the historic shift of power in September 2009. Since then, the face of the DPJ-led administration has changed--the collapse of the three-party coalition government, the resignation of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and the advent of the Kan administration. Despite such changes, however, the nation continues to malfunction politically.
 一昨年9月の歴史的な政権交代から1年3か月余り。その間、3党連立政権の崩壊から鳩山前首相退陣、菅後継内閣へと、民主党政権の表紙は替わったものの、政治の機能不全が続いている。

One worrisome political phenomenon is the deterioration in diplomatic power and national security, which affects the very existence of our nation.
 懸念すべき政治現象の一つが、日本の存立にかかわる外交力の劣化と安全保障の弱体化である。

This has been clearly illustrated recently by the incident in which a Chinese trawler rammed two Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to an island off Hokkaido, one of the islands in the northern territories.
 それを如実に示したのが、尖閣諸島沖の中国漁船衝突事件と、メドベージェフ露大統領の北方領土視察だ。

Both China and Russia have apparently taken advantage of the rift in the Japan-U.S. alliance. Throughout this blatant pressure on Japan, which has made light of our sovereignty, the Kan administration has not only failed to set China and Russia straight, it has made only weak-kneed responses for fear of causing trouble.
 日米同盟の亀裂を見透かした中露両国の露骨な揺さぶりに、「主権」をないがしろにされた菅政権は、非をただすどころか、ただ波風を立てることを恐れ、軟弱な対応に終始した。

Under the guise of such superficial diplomatic slogans as "strategic and mutually beneficial relations" and "good neighbors," the Kan administration has merely patched things up for the time being.
 「戦略的互恵」「善隣友好」という表層的な外交標語に隠れて、一時を糊塗(こと)したに過ぎない。

All this has resulted from the administration's disregarding the Japan-U.S. alliance, which is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy and national security.
 それもこれも外交・安全保障の基軸である、日米同盟をおろそかにしたからである。

Against the backdrop of its economic power, which is about to overtake Japan's, an expanding China is building up its military strength. Aiming to secure marine resources and interests, as well as sea routes, China is increasingly deploying its navy on the high seas.
 日本を抜きつつある経済力を背景に、軍事力を増強する「膨張中国」。海洋資源・権益と海上交通路の確保を目指し、外洋への海軍展開を進めている。

Meanwhile, Russia--eyeing the rise of nationalism in that country--is making a show of its occupation of the northern territories it has illegally occupied.
 国内のナショナリズム台頭をにらんで、不法に占拠した北方4島の領有を誇示するロシア。

Under the slogan "strong and thriving power," North Korea has repeatedly made dangerous provocations in an unstable transitional period in which power is being passed from one generation to the next.
 「強盛大国」を掲げ、権力継承の不安定な過渡期に、危険な挑発を繰り返す北朝鮮。

To hold out against the pressure and threats from these disparate neighbors who ignore or make light of international standards on respecting human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles, it is vital for Japan to maintain a strong alliance with the United States.
 人権尊重、法の支配、民主主義という国際的な規範を無視し、あるいは軽視する、これらの「異質」な周辺国からの圧力や脅威に対抗するには、強固な日米同盟が不可欠だ。

We should hold fast to the alliance and reinforce it, based on the determination to maintain our safety by ourselves and making independent efforts to improve our defense capabilities. The Kan administration must understand this fundamental point.
 自国の安全は自らが守る決意と、それを裏付ける防衛力の整備という自助努力の上で、日米同盟関係を堅持し、強固にする。菅首相はこの基本をきちんと認識しなければならない。

To strengthen the alliance, the government needs to resolve as early as possible the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.
 同盟強化のためには、沖縄県にある米軍普天間飛行場の移設問題を、できるだけ早く解決しなければなるまい。

To win the understanding and cooperation of reelected Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, the government needs to present him with measures to lessen the excessive burden of hosting U.S. military facilities on Okinawa, together with concrete measures to utilize the site of the U.S. military facilities that are to be vacated and to reinvigorate the local economy.
 再選された仲井真弘多(なかいまひろかず)知事の理解と協力を得るには、米軍施設の跡地利用、地域振興の具体策とともに、沖縄の過重な基地負担を軽減する方策を示す必要がある。

Kan has to display leadership to persuade Nakaima and the people of Okinawa on this issue.
菅首相自ら先頭に立って知事と県民を説得しなければならない。

Join TPP talks soon
 ◆経済連携参加を急げ◆

Another thing that will influence the future of our nation is how Japan deals with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being negotiated by nine Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States, Australia and Singapore, with the aim of reaching an agreement this year.
 日米関係と同様、日本の浮沈を左右するのが、米国やオーストラリア、シンガポールなどアジア・太平洋の9か国が年内合意を目指して交渉中の環太平洋経済連携協定(TPP)の取り扱いだ。

The TPP framework is aimed at removing tariffs, in principle, among the participating countries and liberalizing trade and investment and sharing in the economic benefits from these developments.
 TPPの狙いは、参加国の間で原則として関税を撤廃し、貿易や投資の自由化を進め、互いに経済的利益を享受することにある。

If Japan is left behind in the negotiations, it will be excluded from the free trade market.
 日本が交渉に乗り遅れれば、自由貿易市場の枠組みから締め出されてしまう。

If it joins the negotiations too late, it might have to accept unfavorable terms to be determined by countries negotiating now. That is why Japan must join the negotiations early.
 後追いでは、先行諸国に比べ不利な条件をのまざるを得なくなる。だからこそ早期の交渉参加が必要なのだ。

Kan once clearly stated his intention to have Japan join the negotiations. Faced with opposition from within the DPJ, however, he got cold feet.
 菅首相は、いったんは交渉参加の意向を明らかにしたが、民主党内の反対論に押されて腰が引けてしまった。

The opposition came from the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, agricultural organizations and Diet members acting on behalf of farming sectors, saying that if tariffs were removed, cheap farm products from abroad would flood the Japanese market, devastating the farming sector.
 関税が撤廃されると海外の安い農産品が流入し、日本の農業が壊滅するという農水省や農業団体、農業関係議員らの圧力からだ。

Yielding to such pressure is a problem.
 これでは困る。

The symbolic farm product for those who oppose opening the market is rice.
 自由化反対派の象徴的農産物がコメである。

The government has implemented highly protective measures for rice, imposing a tariff of 778 percent on imported rice and pursuing a policy of acreage reduction. Yet domestic demand for rice has been declining.
 コメは778%の高関税、減反政策などの手厚い保護政策で守られてきた。しかし、コメの国内需要は減り続けている。

On the other hand, rice-growing farmers have advanced in age but declined in number. As a result, there has been little progress in efforts to expand the average size of rice farms to raise their international competitiveness.
 一方で稲作農家の高齢化、先細りは進み、国際競争力をつけるための大規模化は遅れている。

To strengthen the foundations of the nation's agricultural sector, which has relied on high tariffs and subsidies, it is vital for Japan to take drastic measures to open its market and make reforms.
 高い関税と補助金に依存してきた日本の農業が、その足腰を鍛えるには、思い切った開国と改革が欠かせない。

The total agricultural output of Japan is worth over 8 trillion yen a year. Of the total, rice output is worth 1.8 trillion yen, accounting for merely 0.4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.
 日本の農業総産出額は8兆円余り。その中でもコメは1・8兆円で、国内総生産(GDP)の0・4%に過ぎない。

From the viewpoint of national security in food, it is important for Japan to secure its own sources of major farming products. Yet it would be grossly wrong for the nation's market-opening efforts to be blocked by the agricultural sector, standing in the way of the overall Japanese economy.
 食糧安全保障の観点から、主要農産物の自給を確保することは重要だが、農業が開国を妨げ、日本経済の足を引っ張るようでは本末転倒になる。

Consumption tax hike inevitable
 ◆消費税率上げは不可避◆

By jumping at a Liberal Democratic Party proposal to raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent, Kan led his DPJ to a major setback in the House of Councillors election in July.
 自民党が提示した「消費税率10%」に飛びついた揚げ句、昨年7月の参院選で大敗した菅首相。

Since then, he has stopped speaking of a consumption tax hike. He cannot escape the charge of being irresponsible on that score.
その後、消費税論議には口をつぐんだままだ。無責任のそしりを免れない。

In improving social security programs, such as pension, medical and nursing care services, which are directly linked to the protection of people's daily lives, how to secure stable funding sources is a key issue.
 年金・医療・介護といった国民生活の安心に直結する社会保障を充実させるには、安定した財源の確保が大きな問題だ。

If the government continues issuing a sizable amount of government bonds and covering the expenditures by repeated borrowing, the nation's finances will go broke sooner or later.
 巨額の国債を発行し、借金の繰り返しでまかない続ければ、早晩、日本の財政は破綻してしまう。

It is obvious to everyone that there is no other option than increasing the consumption tax rate so the nation can secure the necessary sources of revenue.
 消費税率を引き上げる以外に、もはや財源確保の道がないことは誰の目にも明らかだ。

This is why a majority of respondents to public opinion surveys favor a painful hike in the consumption tax rate.
 だからこそ、痛みを伴うはずの消費税率引き上げに賛成する国民が、各種世論調査でも多数派を占めているのではないか。

Needless to say, it is also unavoidable for wasteful government spending to be cut thoroughly. For all that, very little money has been raised through the government's budget screenings, the process the DPJ-led administration implemented with a lot of ballyhoo.
 もちろん、徹底的な行政の無駄減らしも避けて通れない。とは言っても、民主党政権が鳴り物入りで実施した事業仕分けで捻出できたカネは微々たるものだ。

Also, the money raised through the screenings was not used to repay the government's debt but ended up being part of the administration's sizable handout policies, including the provision of child benefits, scrapping tolls for some expressways and providing income compensation to farming households.
 しかも、そのカネは借金の返済ではなく、子ども手当や高速道路の一部無料化、農家の戸別所得補償など、結果的にバラマキ政策の費用の一部に充てられた。

It is sheer stupidity for the administration to insist on a populist, claptrap policy when many people are ready to accept a tax hike for the improvement of the social security system.
 国民の多くが、社会保障充実のための増税もやむなし、と腹をくくっているときに、大衆迎合的な人気取り政策に固執するのは、愚の骨頂である。

Kan has to propose to the opposition parties a hike in the consumption tax and make efforts to win their swift approval, after rescinding the DPJ's manifesto and pledging to review its sizable handout policies.
 菅首相は、政権公約(マニフェスト)を撤回し、バラマキ政策の見直しを約束した上で、消費税率の引き上げを野党側に提示し、速やかな合意を得るよう汗をかかなければならない。

To deal with all these important matters, political stability is vital. Yet the foundations of Kan's administration are quite fragile.
 これまで指摘してきた重要案件を処理するためには、政局の安定が必須である。ところが菅首相の政権基盤はきわめて脆弱(ぜいじゃく)だ。

Political reorganization needed
 ◆懸案解決へ政界再編を◆

Accelerating the decline in the Kan administration's influence is intraparty strife with those who support former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa. The issue of having Ozawa appear before a Diet panel over his alleged involvement in a political funding scandal appears to have passed the critical phase but has left its scars.
 政権の地盤沈下に拍車をかけるのが、小沢元代表を支持する勢力との党内抗争だ。小沢氏の国会招致問題は峠を越したかに見えたがなお尾を引いている。

Other causes of friction, such as the issue of Japan's joining the TPP negotiations, still remain.
TPP問題などの火種も依然として残る。

The DPJ also has external trouble involving its cooperation with the Social Democratic Party.
 党内抗争の内憂に加えて、外患になっているのが社民党との提携である。

In order to pass the fiscal 2011 budget and other important bills that may make it through the House of Representatives but fail to pass the upper house due to the divided Diet--in which the upper house is controlled by opposition parties--the DPJ must obtain the support of two-thirds or more of lower house members in a second vote.
 2011年度予算関連法案や重要法案を再議決により成立させるには、衆院で3分の2以上の議席を要する。

To do this, the DPJ has to win the SDP over to the ruling coalition, in addition to its coalition partner People's New Party.
そのために、連立を組む国民新党に加え、社民党を与党陣営に引き込まざるを得ない。

Kan genuflected to the SDP for shortsighted gains.
 こうした近視眼的な打算から菅首相は社民党にひざまずいた。

As seen in the government's postponement of reviewing the three principles on arms exports, this is a return to a dangerous kind of "casting-vote" politics in which a minor coalition party holds the power of life and death over important government policies. If this situation doesn't change, the nation's politics will be thrown into increasing confusion.
 武器輸出3原則見直しの先送りに見られるように、小党が重要政策の生殺与奪の決定権を握る、危険なキャスチングボート政治の再現である。これでは日本の政治が一段と混迷を深めてしまう。

In the final analysis, to solve issues of utmost urgency and importance such as the relocation of the Futenma Air Station, the TPP negotiations and the consumption tax hike, there is likely no alternative but to create a stable, powerful administration.
 結局のところ、普天間移設、TPP、消費税率引き上げといった緊急かつ重要な課題を解決するには、安定した強力な政権を誕生させるしか道はあるまい。

It is rational to create a new administration, whether it is a one-party administration or a coalition, that will solve the current political contradiction of a divided Diet by dissolving the lower house and holding a general election.
 本来なら、衆院解散・総選挙を断行した上で、単独にせよ連立にせよ、衆参ねじれ現象の政治的矛盾を解く新政権をつくるのが筋だろう。

In the present situation, in which the administration has been hit by declining approval ratings, it is unlikely that Kan will dissolve the lower house as it is considered certain that his party would be defeated in the next general election.
 しかし現状では、支持率低下により次期総選挙敗北必至と見られる菅首相が、衆院解散に打って出る可能性はきわめて小さい。

If so, the government, as the second-best option, should explore ways to make a political truce with opposition parties and build a provisional coalition government to deal with pending issues.
 だとすれば、次善の策として、懸案処理のための政治休戦と、暫定的な連立政権の構築を模索すべきではないか。

The idea that emerged late last year of the DPJ's forming a coalition with the Sunrise Party of Japan met with a hitch. But we welcome the attempt to assemble wholesome and sound-thinking forces that would go beyond the conventional framework of political parties.
 昨年末に浮上した、たちあがれ日本との連立構想は頓挫したが、従来の枠組みを超えた良識ある勢力結集の試みなら歓迎できる。

A coalition should be created that will prioritize the doctrine and policies of parties, and be on a scale to end the divide in the Diet, while making it an emergency "save-the-nation coalition government" in place for one or two years only. After settling key issues, the administration can dissolve the lower house and receive the verdict of the people through a general election.
 連立は理念・政策優先で、しかも「衆参ねじれ現象」を解消できる規模が望ましい。1年、ないしは2年の期限を切った、非常時の「救国連立政権」とし、懸案処理後に、衆院解散・総選挙で国民の審判を問えばいいのだ。

What politics needs now is imagination that goes beyond partisanship and bold action to greatly change the form of the state. To be more specific, to realize a Heisei reformation.
 国のあり方を大きく変える、いわば「平成の改新」を実現するための、党派性を超えた構想力と大胆な行動力が、今の政治に求められている。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 1, 2011)
(2011年1月1日00時41分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2011-01-07 16:32 | 英字新聞

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