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参院選へ 安倍首相の手法 民主政治を問い直す時

June 11, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Upper house election opportunity to review Japan's democratic politics
参院選へ 安倍首相の手法 民主政治を問い直す時

The battle between ruling and opposition parties has begun as the campaign for the July 10 House of Councillors election is scheduled to kick off on June 22.
 参院選の公示が22日に迫り、7月10日の投開票日に向けた与野党の戦いが始まっている。

Three and a half years have passed since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in December 2012. As Abe is predominant in the political world, his government has taken advantage of its majority in the Diet to overwhelm opposition without even attempting to form consensus. After winning an election, the Abe government has acted as if it had been given carte blanche.
 安倍晋三首相が政権トップに返り咲いて3年半。「安倍首相1強」と呼ばれる状況の下、選挙で勝てば、すべての政策が白紙委任されたとばかりに合意形成の努力を怠り、数の力で押し切る政治の姿を私たちはしばしば見てきた。

One cannot help but wonder whether Prime Minister Abe will retain his predominance following the upper house race.
 そうした「1強」体制が今後も続くのかどうか。

Attention is focused on how voters will evaluate the past 3 1/2 years of Abe government. Moreover, questions should be raised over how democratic politics should work.
参院選はこの3年半を有権者がどう評価するかが焦点となる。ひいては民主政治のあり方そのものを問う選挙である。

選挙は「隠れみの」か

When he announced at a June 1 news conference that the government has decided to once again postpone a consumption tax increase from 8 percent to 10 percent, Prime Minister Abe said he will "seek voters' trust" in his government over the decision in the upper house election. "The biggest point of contention is whether to speed up Abenomics (the economic policy mix promoted by his administration) or roll it back," he told reporters.
 消費増税を再延期する方針について、安倍首相は今月1日の記者会見で「参院選で国民の信を問う」と語り、「アベノミクスを加速するか、それとも後戻りするか。これが最大の争点だ」と力説した。

The phrase, "seek the voters' trust" usually means dissolving the House of Representatives for a general election that could lead to a change of government. When he decided in November 2014 to delay the consumption tax hike the first time, the prime minister dissolved the lower house for just that reason. This time, he is trying to ask if voters support his latest decision through the upper house race. The prime minister may have wanted to show his determination to stake his political life on the decision.
 「信を問う」は通常、政権交代に直接つながる衆院選で使う言葉だ。2014年11月、最初に増税を延期した際、首相は「信を問う」と衆院を解散している。今回は参院選だが、同様に進退をかける覚悟を示したかったのかもしれない。

However, one should keep in mind that Abe has repeatedly sought the voters' verdict on Abenomics in particular.
 だが忘れてならないのは「経済政策を前面に打ち出して信を問う」のは、これまでも繰り返されてきた首相のパターンだということだ。

In the last upper house election in 2013, Abe emphasized the achievements of the "three arrows" of his government's economic policy mix, while he stressed during the December 2014 lower house race that Abenomics is "the only way" to achieve economic recovery.
 首相は13年の前回参院選では政権の経済政策である「三本の矢」の成果を強調し、一昨年末の衆院選では「景気回復、この道しかない」とアピールした。選挙はともに自民党が大勝した。

After these elections, however, the Abe administration placed priority on other policy issues.
ところが選挙の後はどうだったか。

Following the last upper house election, his administration hastily tried to pass the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets allowing the government to keep secret not only sensitive security information but also information disadvantageous to the administration, which could threaten freedom of speech. Also fresh in people's memory is the ruling coalition's railroading of security-related legislation that could run counter to Japan's war-renouncing Constitution. The ruling coalition did not bring these policies up for debate in elections held shortly before the laws were passed.
 前回の参院選直後の臨時国会で安倍政権が成立を急いだのは、国の安全保障にかかわる情報だけでなく、政権に都合の悪い情報も秘密にして言論の自由を制限しかねない特定秘密保護法だった。そして昨年、憲法を軽視して安全保障関連法の成立に突き進んだのは記憶に新しい。いずれも直前の選挙ではあまり語られなかったテーマだ。

Before the enactment of the security laws, the government appointed a Foreign Ministry bureaucrat who shares views on the issue with the prime minister as head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau. This was a blatant bid to smooth the reinterpretation of the Constitution to open the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. The Abe Cabinet then decided in July 2014 to change the interpretation of Article 9 of the supreme law.
 特に安保法制では、首相の考えに近い外務官僚を内閣法制局長官に起用する異例の人事を行ったうえで、14年7月、歴代政権が認めてこなかった集団的自衛権の行使を一部認める憲法解釈の変更を閣議決定した。

In other words, the Abe government carefully laid the groundwork to drastically change Japan's security policy while carefully preventing the topic from being a key issue during elections.
選挙の争点になるのを意識的に避けながら安保政策を大転換させる布石を打ってきたといっていい。

These are the issues that require thorough explanation as they could split public opinion. The Abe government appears to have used the economic policy mix as a cover to change Japan's security policy and achieve other of the prime minister's most cherished aims.
 本来はこうした国論を二分するようなテーマこそ選挙できちんと説明すべきだろう。「経済」は首相の持論を推し進めるための隠れみのになってきたように思える。

 今回はどうだろう。

Prime Minister Abe's ultimate political goal is undoubtedly to revise the pacifist postwar Constitution. Nevertheless, the prime minister has failed to clarify specifically which clauses he wants to change and how. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is reluctant to make the issue a point of contention during the upper house election campaign.
 首相の最大目標が憲法改正であるのは間違いない。ところが首相は憲法のどこを変えたいのか具体的には語らず、自民党も改憲を選挙の争点にすることには消極的だ。

Still, if the ruling LDP-Komeito coalition plus other parties in favor of constitutional amendment -- such as the Osaka Ishin no Kai (Initiatives from Osaka) -- won a combined two-thirds of the seats in the upper chamber, the prime minister would certainly speed up moves to change the Constitution. Constitutional revisions can be proposed only if supported by two-thirds of all members of both Diet chambers. Voters should keep this in mind.
 しかし、今回の選挙で自民、公明の与党と憲法改正に前向きな、おおさか維新の会などを合わせ、改憲発議に必要な3分の2以上の勢力を参院でも確保すれば、首相は従来のパターン通り憲法改正の動きを加速させるはずだ。私たちはそれを認識しておく必要がある。

異論排除せず議論を

Prime Minister Abe's claim at the June 1 news conference that the government would only postpone the consumption tax hike because the world economy is on the brink of crisis, while Abenomics is producing steady results here in Japan, is far from convincing.
 アベノミクスは順調だが、世界経済が危機に直面するかもしれないから増税は再延期する。これまでの約束とは異なる新しい判断だ−−という先の会見での首相の説明が説得力を欠いていたのは指摘した通りだ。

It is apparently not the prime minister's style to admit his own failures. This appears related to his tendency not to listen to different opinions.
 自らの非を認めようとしないのも首相のスタイルなのだろう。それはとかく異論を排除しがちな首相の姿勢と共通しているようにみえる。

Abe has occasionally shown himself to be a realist, such as when he signed the Japan-South Korea agreement late last year on the comfort women issue, over which Tokyo compromised to a certain extent. He was able to make that compromise because his government has a strong power base.
 日本側も譲歩した慰安婦問題に関する昨年末の日韓合意をはじめ、時に首相は現実的な面も見せてきた。強い政権だからこそ譲歩ができたともいえる。

However, he has certainly made light of Diet discussions, as was shown when he jeered at an opposition party legislator during Diet deliberations, saying, "Ask your question quickly." Intraparty discussions among those who have diverse opinions within the LDP have disappeared.
 だが国会で野党議員に対し「早く質問しろよ」と自らやじを飛ばすなど、首相が議論を軽んじてきたのは確かだ。自民党内でもかつてのような多様な議論はなくなった。

The prime minister also tends to simplistic divisions between friend and foe. Since the inauguration of the Abe government, there have been moves within his Cabinet that look designed to intervene in TV news coverage critical of the prime minister.
 敵か味方か。単純に決めつける姿勢も目立つ。首相に批判的なテレビ局に対し、従来にはなかった介入まがいの言動が見られるようになったのも安倍政権になってからだ。

The minimum voting age will be lowered from 20 to 18 in time for the upper house election. In preparation, supplementary teaching material on democratic politics, compiled jointly by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, have been distributed to all high school students across the country.
 参院選では初めて18、19歳が有権者になる。これに伴い、文部科学、総務両省が作成した副教材が全高校生に配布されている。

The material says democratic politics means politics through discussion, and that a final decision is generally made by a majority.
 副教材は、民主政治とは話し合いの政治であり、最終的には多数決で合意を形成するのが一般的だ、と記したうえで、こう続けている。

At the same time, it goes on to say, "To make good use of decisions by a majority, diverse opinions should be expressed and if minority opinions are right, they should be utilized as much as possible. Policy measures can be more effective if people are convinced by the decisions."
 「ただし、多数決が有効に生かされるためには、多様な意見が出し尽くされ(略)、少数意見が正しいものであれば、できるだけ吸収するというものでなければなりません。納得することで実効性も高まります」

This is the basics of democratic politics. Needless to say, opposition parties cannot win support from voters if they only voice stiff opposition to government policies. Specific policy discussions should be held during the upper house election campaign.
 まさにそれが民主政治の基本だろう。無論、野党も「反対だ」と声高に叫んでいるだけでは有権者の支持は得られない。より具体的な議論を戦わせる参院選にしたい。
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by kiyoshimat | 2016-06-12 10:13 | 英字新聞

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