若者と高齢者と政治―世代をつなぐ分かちあいを

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 3
EDITORIAL: Dialogue on burden sharing needed between young, old
若者と高齢者と政治―世代をつなぐ分かちあいを

Last year, young people played the leading role in various movements that changed the world.
 昨年、世界を動かした主役は若者たちだった。

The young generation was in the vanguard of both the "Arab Spring," a wave of pro-democracy demonstrations that toppled long-standing dictatorships in the Arab world, and the "Occupy" protests against income and wealth inequality that started on Wall Street and spread to many parts of the world.
 独裁体制を倒した「アラブの春」も、米ウォール街の占拠から世界に広がった「格差社会」への抗議行動も、若い世代が先頭にいた。

Indeed, these are times of tribulation for young people across the globe.
 なにせ、どこも若者受難の時代なのである。

The number of the world's jobless workers belonging to the 15-24 age group hit an all-time high in 2009, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).
 国際労働機関(ILO)によれば、世界の15歳から24歳の失業者数は09年、過去最多を記録した。

The unemployment ratio for young people has remained far higher than those for other age groups.
その後も失業率は、他の世代を大きく上回る。

The ILO thinks high unemployment among the young is the main factor behind the worldwide protests.
それが「世界中でみられた抗議の要因だ」とILOは分析している。

In Japan, the latest job data puts the unemployment rate for the 15-24-year-old demographic at around 9 percent, nearly double the average for all other groups.
 日本でも直近の統計で、この世代の失業率は約9%で、全世代平均の2倍近い。

Since the figure is still lower than in many Western countries like Spain, where more than 40 percent of young workers are without jobs, Japanese youth may be less disgruntled than their counterparts in other industrial countries.
 40%を超すスペインなど欧米諸国よりは低いから、現状への「不満」はまだ少ないのかもしれない。

But young Japanese are probably no less worried about the future.
だが将来への「不安」は、おそらくひけをとるまい。

Young people are also becoming more vocal and assertive in expressing their feelings in Japan.
 日本でも若い力が動き出している。

In last year's mayoral election in Osaka, for instance, more young voters went to the polls than in the previous election, according to an exit poll by The Asahi Shimbun.
たとえば、昨年の大阪市長選だ。

As many as 70 percent of voters in their 20s and 30s cast their votes for Toru Hashimoto, the leader of Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka restoration group), a local reformist party, who was elected as the new mayor of the city.
朝日新聞社の出口調査では、前回の選挙より投票所に足を運んだ若者が増え、20代、30代の7割は大阪維新の会の橋下徹氏に一票を投じていた。

Young Japanese and the nation's plight
■若者と日本の窮地

Hiroshi Ichihashi, the 23-year-old leader of Gakusei Osaka Ishin no Kai, the student group supporting Hashimoto's party, has voiced anxiety about the future of the nation in his blog. "I'm terribly scared when I imagine what Japan will look like 10 years, 20 years from now."
 「学生・大阪維新の会」の市橋拓代表(23)はブログにつづった。「10年後、20年後、日本はどうなってるんやろと考えると、すごい怖い」

The principal source of their anxiety is the deteriorating job picture.
 不安の源は働く環境だろう。

Fierce global competition is putting relentless pressure on Japanese companies to cut costs for survival as well as in other industrial nations. Furthermore, there are some unique factors that are complicating the situation in Japan.
 グローバル競争に生き残るためのコスト削減は先進国共通の厳しさだが、日本なりの事情もある。

The tradition of lifetime employment is not yet dead in Japan, although it has become less prevalent. Many Japanese companies still hire mainly new graduates and keep them on their payrolls until retirement.
緩んだとはいえ、新卒で一括採用し、終身雇用する慣行がまだ残っている。

Under this system, companies tend to reduce new full-time hires during economic hard times to protect the livelihoods of their current employees.
 この仕組みだと、会社は社員の暮らしを守るため、新たな正社員の採用を絞る。

Unless young people can find full-time jobs when they graduate when jobs are scarce, they are likely to have difficulty developing their skills and building careers.
「狭き門」をくぐれなければ、能力を磨く機会を逃しがちだ。

One study found that young Japanese who enter the job market during a recession are more likely to remain low-income earners for a longer period than their counterparts in countries like the United States.
 だから日本では、不況期に社会に出た人たちが長期にわたって収入が低くなる傾向が、米国などよりも著しいという研究結果もある。

Compounding Japan's problems is the rapid aging of its population and its low birthrate.
 加えて、少子高齢化だ。

There were once many Japanese workers to support each elderly dependent.
 日本はかつて、多くの現役世代で高齢者を支える「胴上げ型」の社会だった。

Now, there are about three or so workers for every pensioner. In the future, there will be only one.
いまは「騎馬戦型」であり、将来は「肩車型」になる。

That's why Japan needs a consumption tax hike, argues Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
 だから消費増税が必要だと、野田首相は説く。

He is right. But his argument is based on a basic premise that must not be forgotten.
 その通りなのだが、忘れてはならない前提がある。

If young workers cannot pay taxes and premiums for social security programs, the entire system will collapse.
若い世代が税や保険料を納められなければ、社会保障は成り立たない。

Low-income earners cannot contribute to the support of retirees.
担う側がやせ細っていては、肩車は、お年寄りもろとも崩れてしまうという現実だ。

Politicians need to persuade the public
■説得が政治の責務

As the nation is shifting from a growth-oriented society to a mature society, the most important thing is to energize young generations.
 成長社会から成熟社会へ移行するいま、何より大切なのは、若い世代を強くすることだ。

It is vital to make it easier to receive education, create more jobs and improve the environment for child rearing. These should be top policy priorities.
 教育を受けやすくする。雇用の機会を広げる。子どもを生み育てる環境を整える。それが、政治の最優先課題である。

It is also necessary to narrow the gap in pay between full-time and part-time workers and figure out ways to share jobs and wages between young people and older workers who have finished raising their children.
 正社員と非正規の待遇格差を縮め、子育てが終わった世代と仕事や賃金を分かちあう方策も考えるべきだ。

But how about the reality in Japan?
 だが、現実はどうか。

The ratio of Japan's expenditures for children and young people to its overall public spending was the second lowest among 39 countries, mostly members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to data for 2007.
 子ども・若者向けの公的支出の比率を、経済協力開発機構(OECD)加盟国など39カ国で比べたところ、日本はなんと38位(07年データ)だった。

The government has promised to reform the social security system to expand benefits for children and younger generations.
 政府も、子どもを含む「全世代対応型」社会保障への転換を掲げている。

But there has been little progress toward that goal because the government has been unable to persuade the public to accept cuts in other expenditures to finance the reform.
それでも思うように進まないのは、財源を生み出すために、他の支出を我慢してもらう説得ができないからだ。

The government has long postponed reducing pension benefits in response to falling prices as required by the program for fear of antagonizing elderly voters.
 年金を本来の水準に引き下げることさえ、お年寄りの反発が怖くて先送りを重ねてきた。

It is the duty of politicians to convince the public that the proposed social security reform will be good for future generations and benefit all generations over the long term.
 しかし、これは子や孫のためだ。長い目でみれば、すべての世代の利益になる。そう説得するのが、政治の責務だ。

Dialogue between citizens of different generations needed
■かぎは市民の対話

Politicians, however, not wanting to face angry voters in elections, are avoiding their duty.
 ただ、選挙で有権者に嫌われたくない政治家は責務から逃げようとする。

That's why Japanese politics has been unable to deal effectively with many pressing challenges confronting the nation.
政治が迷走続きなのは、そのせいだといっていい。

Democracy, by its nature, is not quite good at fresh burden sharing.
民主主義は、新たな負担の分かちあいが苦手なのだ。

Our challenge is how to overcome this weakness and move politics forward.
 この弱点を乗り越え、どうやって政治を動かすか。

Things are not so simple as to allow us to solve the problem by simply entrusting the mission to a capable leader.
頼もしそうなリーダーに任せれば解決するほど、ことは簡単ではない。

Politicians should first mend their ways and improve their performance. But voters also need to change themselves.
 まずは政治家が進化すべきだが、同時に有権者も変わらなければならない。

One good starting point is serious policy dialogue among citizens with conflicting interests.
 たとえば、利害が異なる人々が、もっと対話したらどうか。

Are both elderly and young people content with the current state of the social security system, which is designed mainly for old people?
高齢者に手厚い社会保障の現状を、お年寄りと若者はこのままでいいと納得しているのか。

During the Osaka mayoral election, Ichihashi, the student activist, made speeches in the streets urging young people generally indifferent to politics to get involved in his movement as "participants, not as supporters."
 大阪の市橋さんは市長選で街頭に立ち、「応援者ではなく、当事者として参加してほしい」と、政治に関心を抱く機会が少ない同じ世代に呼びかけた。

A wrong choice now could cause the social security system to break down by the time today's young people have grown old.
 いま選択を誤れば、若者が高齢者になるとき、社会保障は壊れているかもしれない。

A real fiscal collapse would deliver immeasurable damage to the people's lives and the nation's economy.
もし財政が破綻(はたん)すれば、暮らしや経済への打撃は計り知れない。

Young people won't be able to run away from the consequences of their choices.
そして若者は、選択の結果から逃れられない。

How can we create a society where different generations are willing to support each other?
 世代をつないで分かちあう社会を、どうすれば実現できるのか。

What is necessary to leave such a society to future generations?
それを先々の世代に引き継ぐには何が必要なのか。

These are questions that all Japanese voters, including young people, should ponder.
 若者はもちろん、より多くの有権者が当事者として考える。

Then, there would be a powerful force to move politics.
それが政治を動かす原動力になるに違いない。
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2012-01-05 06:22 | 英字新聞

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