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人口減少本格化 次世代支援にもっと知恵を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 8, 2012)
More efforts, money needed to stop population decline
人口減少本格化 次世代支援にもっと知恵を(6月7日付・読売社説)

Japan has finally entered a period in which the population is decreasing substantially each year.
 日本はいよいよ、本格的な人口減少時代に入った。

How can the nation deal with this unprecedented situation and maintain social vitality? We need to realize Japan has entered a critical stage.
史上例を見ない深刻な状況に、どのように対処し、活力を維持していくか。日本社会にとっての正念場であろう。

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has released the nation's vital demographic statistics for 2011. The number of babies born last year hit a postwar low of about 1.05 million, while the number of deaths was about 1.25 million.
 厚生労働省が2011年の人口動態統計を公表した。昨年は、生まれた赤ちゃんが105万人で戦後最少となる一方、125万人が亡くなった。

It was the first time since the survey started that a natural decrease in population exceeded 200,000, and the decrease is expected to grow year by year. This means that a population equivalent to core local cities such as Kofu and Matsue disappears every year.
 日本の人口の自然減が20万人を超えたのは初めてのことだ。減少規模は年々拡大する。甲府市、松江市といった中核都市が、毎年一つずつ消えていくに等しい。

The total fertility rate, or the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime, was 1.39, the same as the previous year. The rate was on an upward trend after bottoming out in 2005, but it seems to have leveled off.
 1人の女性が産む子の数に近い「合計特殊出生率」は前年と同じ1・39だった。05年以来、徐々に回復する傾向にあったが、頭打ちの感が強い。

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People hesitate to start families

The average age at which first-time mothers gave birth was 30.1 in 2011, exceeding the age of 30 for the first time--demonstrating the current tendency for women to have babies later.
 第1子出産時の母親の平均年齢が30・1歳と、初めて30歳を超えたことは、出産高齢化の進行を象徴している。

The number of marriages last year was 662,000, another postwar low. This illustrates the growing trend for people to delay marriage, or not marry at all.
婚姻件数は66万2000組で最少だった。非婚・晩婚の傾向も強まっている。

Of course, it is each individual's choice whether to marry or have children. However, the current situation gives people few options but to give up or delay marriage as well as delay having children.
 無論、結婚するか否か、子どもを産むかどうかは、個人の自由だが、非婚、晩婚、出産先送りを選択せざるを得ない状況がある。

Young people now hesitate to start families of their own due to various concerns, including difficulties in finding work, anxiety about the nation's social security system--particularly regarding the future of the pension system--and the underdeveloped environment for raising children when both parents work.
 若者の就職状況の厳しさ、年金をはじめとする社会保障制度への不安、共働きをしながら子どもを育てる環境の未整備――といった様々な懸念が、家庭を持つことをためらわせている。

It is urgent to change the current social security system, which emphasizes elderly people, by implementing measures that will cover all generations and making sure financial resources are distributed more evenly.
 高齢者を重視した現行の社会保障制度の施策と財源を「全世代型」に改めることが急務であろう。

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Take steps now

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government has announced a new program to reduce the number of children on waiting lists to enter day care centers--dubbed the new system to support children and households raising children--as part of its integrated reform of the social security and tax systems.
The government has also revealed its plan to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve the employment situation of young people.
 政府・与党は、社会保障・税一体改革の一環として、「子ども・子育て新システム」という待機児童解消策を掲げるとともに、若者の雇用環境を改善する総合戦略の策定を打ち出している。

Although there are differences in the details, the ruling and opposition parties have taken the same approach of combining the wisdom of various people to draw up measures that will help young people--who will lead Japan in the future--and allocate more money to such measures. Looking at the vital demographic statistics, it is clear lawmakers must speed up their efforts to achieve integrated reform of the social security and tax systems.
 細部では与野党間に相違もあるが、日本の将来を担う次世代を支援する政策に、財源と知恵をもっと振り向けるという方向性では一致している。人口動態の数字を見れば、一体改革の実現を急ぐ必要があるのは明らかだ。

If the government fails to take appropriate measures while the population is declining at a growing rate, the economy will suffer from a shrinking labor force and society will lose its vitality.
 人口減が進む中で手をこまぬいていれば、労働力人口は不足し、社会の活力が衰えていく。

To avoid such a situation, the government must take multiple steps to maintain a dynamic society.
 そうした事態を避けるために、政府は重層的な活力維持策を講じていく責任がある。

Above all, the government must create better social and corporate environments to help women find jobs more easily and work more comfortably, to maintain a sufficient labor force.
 労働力人口を確保するには、女性が就業しやすい企業・社会環境を整えることが第一だ。

The government should also enable people to work in more diverse ways, which would help motivated elderly people work longer. Furthermore, it is important for politicians to discuss whether to beef up the nation's efforts to accept foreign workers.
 意欲ある高齢者にも長く活躍してもらえるよう、働き方の多様化も進めるべきだ。外国人を積極的に受け入れることも、政治の検討課題である。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 7, 2012)
(2012年6月7日01時13分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2012-06-09 07:42 | 英字新聞

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