成人の日 若い力で停滞を打ち破ろう

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 15, 2013)
Let the power of youth snap Japan out of its funk
成人の日 若い力で停滞を打ち破ろう(1月14日付・読売社説)

Today, the second Monday of January, is Coming-of-Age Day. We congratulate about 1.22 million people who were born in 1992 and turned 20 years old this year to become new members of adult society.
 きょうは成人の日。
 1992年に生まれた122万人の新成人が、大人の仲間入りすることを祝いたい。

They are of the generation who has grown up during the "two lost decades" that followed the bursting of the bubble economy.
 新成人は、バブル経済崩壊後の「失われた20年」が成育期に重なった世代だ。

During this period, Japan's economy has languished, and its gross domestic product has been overtaken by that of China. Japan has surrendered its position as the world's second-biggest economy.
 この間、日本は景気が低迷し、中国に国内総生産(GDP)で抜かれ、世界第2位の座を明け渡した。

While the proportion of students going on to university remains above 50 percent, the employment situation is still grim. This is a period when young people are struggling to stay optimistic about their prospects.
大学進学率が50%を超える一方で、就職難が続く。明るい展望を持ちにくい時代と言える。

But precisely because this is a tough situation, we have high expectations for the power of youth. We hope new adults who have already started their careers and those yet to join the workforce will work and study hard with pride that they are "vital" members of society.
 だが、厳しい状況だからこそ、若い力への期待は大きい。既に働いている新成人も、これから社会に出る人も、「社会から求められている」という自負心を持って仕事や勉学に取り組んでほしい。

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Mostly satisfied with life

In a 2012 survey by the Cabinet Office, as many as 75 percent of people in their 20s-- those slightly older than the new batch of adults--said they were "satisfied" with their current lifestyle. This figure was the highest of all age brackets.
 内閣府の昨年の世論調査で、「今の生活に満足している」との回答が、どの年代よりも高い75%に上ったのが、新成人の先輩にあたる20歳代である。

Sociologist Noritoshi Furuichi, author of the book "Zetsubo no Kuni no Kofukuna Wakamono-tachi" (The Happy Youth of a Desperate Country), believes the survey results indicated that people of this age "have little expectation that things will get better tomorrow, so they focus on spending joyful times with their peers here and now."
 その背景について、「絶望の国の幸福な若者たち」の著者で社会学者の古市憲寿さんは「明日が良くなると期待できないから、今、ここで、仲間と過ごす幸せを大事にするしかない」と分析する。

Possibly reflecting their sense of despair over the future, an increasing number of young people are seeking jobs that offer employment stability. According to a survey in 2012 by Japan Productivity Center, a government-backed think tank, 60 percent of newly recruited employees--an all-time high--said they "want to work at my current company for life."
 将来への閉塞感を反映してか、就職には安定志向が強まっている。日本生産性本部の調査では、「今の会社に一生勤めようと思う」と答えた新入社員は昨年、過去最高の60%に達した。

Nevertheless, large firms cannot necessarily guarantee employment for life. Symbolic of this is the fact that many major home appliance manufacturers are groaning under huge deficits. Their quandary has been caused by such factors as intense international competition and their failure to keep up with foreign rivals in developing business strategies well suited to fast-changing market conditions.
 とは言え、大企業なら安泰とは限らない。家電大手が巨額の赤字に苦しんでいるのは、その象徴である。激しい国際競争や、市場の変化に合わせたビジネス展開で後れをとったことなどが要因だ。

Many companies in the home appliance industry and other sectors have been doing their utmost to survive by exercising their ingenuity in boosting their technological capabilities and improving their services.
 家電業界に限らず、各企業が技術革新やサービス向上を工夫し、生き残りを目指している。

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Harnessing the Internet

The day will come when today's new adults take up the role of reinvigorating their companies and society.
 新成人たちが、いずれ日本企業や社会を元気にする役割を担う日も来るはずだ。

One promising sign is that a number of young people have been actively starting businesses on their own. Many have designed new products on their websites, sent orders to production service firms to make them, and marketed the products on the Internet. This way of doing business, which originated in the United States, is spreading in Japan.
 希望を持てる動きの一つが、若者による起業が活発になっていることだ。ウェブサイト上で新商品をデザインし、製造サービス会社に製作を発注し、販売もインターネットで行う。米国発のこのビジネスが日本にも広がり始めた。

Since their childhood, new adults have been accustomed to using cell phones and personal computers. We hope they come up with flexible ideas unbound by conventional thinking.
 新成人たちは、子供の頃から携帯電話やパソコンに親しんできた。従来にはない柔軟なアイデアを発揮してもらいたい。

All the residents of Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, have had to evacuate due to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. On Jan. 2, the village government hosted a Coming-of-Age Day celebration in the district where the residents have moved.
 東京電力福島第一原発事故で全村避難が続く福島県葛尾村は今月2日、移転先で成人式を開いた。

At the ceremony, a new male adult spoke of his determination to work hard in the future. "I'll do my best to give other victims of the disaster hope for the future, and never forget the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe and the preciousness of my hometown."
新成人の男性は「震災や故郷を忘れず、被災者の希望になれるよう頑張りたい」と決意を述べた。

We sincerely hope each new adult, while cherishing their own dreams and hopes, has the courage to carve out a new era.
 それぞれの思いを胸に、時代を切り開いてほしい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 14, 2013)
(2013年1月14日01時27分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2013-01-16 07:50 | 英字新聞

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