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人口急減社会の問い―生き方の再検討を迫る

May 28, 2014
EDITORIAL: Japan's shrinking population forces us to reconsider how we live
人口急減社会の問い―生き方の再検討を迫る

Japan's projected population decline conjures up an image of a ball rolling down a steep slope.
 これから先、見込まれる日本の人口減少は、急な坂を転げ落ちるかのようだ。

According to estimates by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the nation's population will shrink to two-thirds of the current level in the next half-century, and then to one-third 100 years from now.
 国立社会保障・人口問題研究所の推計によれば、人口は約半世紀で3分の2に、1世紀で3分の1に縮む。

Three panels of experts have issued reports on how to put the brakes on the decline.
 どうすればこの流れを緩められるか。官民三つの有識者会議が相次いで報告をまとめた。

All the reports concur that there are obstacles preventing people who want to marry and have children from doing so, and that these obstacles must be removed.
 主張の核心は、どれも同じ。結婚したい、産みたいという希望がかなっていないと指摘し、障害を取り除こうと訴える。

The reports also offer similar solutions, which boil down to expanding support for parents and changing the ways of working.
 対策にも共通点が多い。支援策拡充と働き方の改革である。

The Japan Policy Council, a private research foundation that issued one of the three reports, caught the public's attention by pointing out the possibility of about half of the nation's current rural municipalities ceasing to exist if they keep losing their populations to the big cities. But aside from the JPC's dire warning, the three reports offer no new practical solutions.
 三つのうち、民間の「日本創成会議」分科会が、大都市への人口流出が続けば約半数の市区町村は消滅の可能性があると指摘し、耳目を集めた。それを除けば、さほど目新しい指摘や対策があるわけではない。

This was only to be expected, as what needs to be done is already fairly clear. But the point is whether society and the political community will be receptive to the proposed solutions and follow through.
 当然だろう。元々、やるべきことははっきりしているからだ。焦点は政治と社会に理解を広げ、実現できるかどうかだ。

CHANGING REALITY OF FAMILIES
■変わる家族の現実

What are the problems?
 何が問題なのか。

Our society is solidly established on the traditional concept of the family, which is that the husband is the sole breadwinner and the wife is a full-time homemaker. But this is no longer the reality today, while the social systems, practices and people's mind-sets are still based on the traditional concept.
 夫が「一家の大黒柱」として家族のぶんまで稼ぎ、主婦が家族の世話をする。そんな家族像を前提に、日本社会に張り巡らされた制度や慣行、人々の意識が、家族の現実にそぐわなくなっている。

The situation in Japan is conspicuously different from those in other leading industrialized countries.
 ほかの先進国と比べると、日本の特徴がくっきり浮かぶ。

Despite the growing number of households where both spouses work, policy support for child-rearing families is still far from adequate.
 子育て支援が薄い。共働きの広がりに、支援策が追いついていない。

Long working hours are still routine, partly because the sole breadwinner has always been expected to put in overtime and never complain about transfers. So long as this mind-set remains, husbands will find it difficult to help with household chores and child-rearing. Women who want to work full-time jobs are forced to work long hours just like the men, and tend to put off marrying and starting a family.
 長時間労働が際だつ。「大黒柱」は残業も転勤もいとわず働くのが当たり前だったからだ。その慣行が続いている限り、夫は家事や育児に参画しにくい。男性に負けずに働こうとすれば女性も長時間労働を強いられ、結婚や出産を先送りしがちだ。

Wage levels differ greatly by how one works. In the past, part-time work was only for married women and students, whose wages were kept low on the premise that they could depend financially on their husbands or fathers. But there is a growing number of adult men nowadays who are earning low wages as part-time workers. The current trend for women to remain single or marry late will only accelerate if they keep waiting for men who will meet all their financial needs.
 働き方による賃金格差が大きい。かつて非正社員といえば、主婦のパートと学生のアルバイトだった。夫や父親の稼ぎに頼れる前提で賃金を抑えられていた。だが、その賃金水準で働く大人の男性が増えた。女性がなお「大黒柱」を待ち望めば、未婚・晩婚が進まざるをえない。

PROBLEMS WITH 'JAPAN MODEL'
■「日本型」のつまずき

If that is the case, some people argue, then we should revive the traditional concept of family.
 ならば昔の家族を取り戻せ。

But that is a tall order. The number of households that can survive on the husband's income alone is on the decrease, and in this age of unstable employment, it is too risky to rely on just one breadwinner. Housework is done differently today from the past, too. Families change along with changes in their circumstances.
 そう考える人もいるだろう。だが、難しい。夫の収入だけで暮らせる世帯は減っているし、雇用が不安定なこの時代、「大黒柱」1本に頼るのは危うい。家事の仕方も昔とは違う。環境が変われば家族は変わる。

We already know that the changes cannot be stopped.
 変化をとめられないことは、すでに実証済みだ。

When the government declared "the first year of the welfare society" in 1973, the oil crisis that occurred that year aggravated the nation's fiscal problems. This gave rise to the concept of the "Japanese-style welfare society." The argument then was that Europe's generous welfare handouts took away people's incentive to work, whereas the Japanese spirit of self-help and reliance on one's family, not on government handouts, was truly a virtue.
 1973年の「福祉元年」宣言もつかの間、同じ年に石油危機に見舞われ、財政の悪化が進んだ。そこに登場したのが「日本型福祉社会」論だ。欧州で、手厚い福祉が勤労意欲を減退させたなどと批判し、自助や家族の支えあいこそ日本の「醇風美俗(じゅんぷうびぞく)」だと唱えた。

The Liberal Democratic Party regime of the time took advantage of this argument to curb welfare spending and proceeded to reward households with wives who stayed at home or worked only very little to shoulder burdens of caring for children and elderly parents. Specifically, the government created a system whereby women, who are married to full-time company employees and earn less than a certain level of income themselves, are qualified for old-age pensions of their own without having to pay premiums.
 自民党政権は、これを論拠に福祉を削り、負担を引き受ける主婦の優遇策を進めた。代表例が、会社員の夫を持つ主婦は、収入が低ければ保険料を払わずに年金を受け取れる制度だ。

But even this system did not stop the number of dual-income households from growing. And ironically, although it was designed to benefit low-income married women, the system had the effect of encouraging part-time workers to keep their wage levels low. This became one of the causes of the significant wage gaps that exist today. The Abe administration is currently trying to review this "Japan-style" setup by encouraging women's "active participation" in society.
 それでも共働きは広がった。収入が低い主婦を優遇する制度は低賃金労働を誘い、賃金格差の一因となった。安倍政権はいま「女性の活躍」を掲げ、こうした「日本型」の施策の見直しにとりくむ。

Outside Japan, conspicuous drops in birthrates can be found in countries such as Italy and Spain where people rely on their families for the help they need. It is only natural that when families become overburdened, people hesitate to have children.
 世界をみても、イタリアやスペインなど、家族の力に頼る国々で少子化が顕著だと指摘される。家族に負担がかかりすぎると、家族をつくることをためらうのは、当然の帰結だろう。

SUPPORTING THE NEXT GENERATION
■支える世代を支える

The burden on families will grow even further in the days ahead. In the past, there were multiple working-age people financially supporting one senior citizen under the welfare system. But the nation is fast transforming into a "piggyback" society where there will be only one working-age citizen supporting a senior citizen.
 これから、家族の負担はもっと重くなる。日本は、多くの現役世代で1人のお年寄りを支えた「胴上げ型社会」から、1人で1人を支える「肩車型社会」へと突き進んでいる。

Will the working-age people be able to bear their tax and insurance premium burdens? Will more people be forced to give up work or motherhood in order to care for their elderly parents or relatives? Something must be done to protect both the younger and older generations from collapse.
 現役世代は、税や保険料の重さに耐えられるか。親族の介護のため、仕事や出産を諦める人が増えないか。共倒れを防ぐ工夫が要る。

For one, it is vital to ensure that people will be able to function to their full capacity.
 第一に、人の力を最大限生かせる仕組みである。

This calls for a system that will allow people to work flexibly while caring for their children or elderly family members.
 たとえば、介護や子育てなどの事情に応じて柔軟に働ける制度だ。

In the Netherlands, workers are entitled to demand shorter or longer working hours according to their needs, and employers are forbidden to unfavorably treat workers because of shorter working hours. As a result, the employment rate and birthrate have gone up.
オランダでは労働者が労働時間の短縮や延長を求める権利を定め、短いからといって待遇に差をつけることを禁じた。就業率も出生率も上昇した。

Secondly, it is necessary to provide support to the younger generation that supports the elderly population.
 第二に、お年寄りを支え続けるためにも、「支える世代を支える」ことである。

The three reports from the panels of experts propose that the nation's social security system, which is currently weighted heavily in favor of the elderly, should be revised to take the needs of the younger generation into consideration. Seniors in difficult financial circumstances obviously need help, but the needs of the younger generation cannot be ignored any longer.
 三つの報告は、高齢者に偏る社会保障を見直し、子育て支援などに振り向けよと唱える。貧しいお年寄りへの配慮が前提だが、避けてはいられまい。

The report by the JPC went one step further. Noting that the terminally ill who are no longer able to eat on their own are often fed from a tube, the report urged earnest discussion of issues related to terminal care to explore desirable forms of end-of-life treatment.
 日本創成会議は、口から食べることが難しい場合、胃にチューブを通す胃ろうなど「終末期ケア」のあり方も議論すべき時期だ、と踏み込んだ。人生の最後の時期をどのように過ごすのが幸せなのか、議論を促した。

We are born, and we will all eventually die someday.
 生まれる。死ぬ。

The nation's shrinking population forces us to face life squarely and reconsider how we live. And we cannot move forward unless the entire society engages in discussion.
 人口減少は私たちに、命をみつめることを求めている。生き方、暮らし方の再検討を迫っている。社会全体での議論なしには、前に進めない。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 26
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-30 07:55 | 英字新聞

竹富町の教科書 単独採択の容認は禍根を残す

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:38 pm, May 27, 2014
Approval for Taketomi town to become independent school district problematic
竹富町の教科書 単独採択の容認は禍根を残す

The latest move in the Okinawa Prefecture school textbook case may become a bad precedent, we are afraid.
 教科書採択の悪あしき前例にならないか。

The Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education has approved the secession of the town board of education in Taketomi from the textbook selection council of the Yaeyama district—comprising the city of Ishigaki and the towns of Taketomi and Yonaguni—in the prefecture.
 沖縄県教育委員会が、石垣市、竹富町、与那国町による八重山採択地区から、竹富町の離脱を認めることを決めた。

The Taketomi Board of Education has been using a textbook of its own choice in public schools for more than two years, in violation of the law on the free provision of school textbooks, which stipulates that a joint textbook adoption district—comprising more than one municipality—must adopt the same textbook throughout.
 竹富町教委は、共同採択地区内で同一の教科書を採択するという教科書無償措置法に違反し、2年以上、独自に採択した教科書を使用している。

The Taketomi Board of Education did not comply with a demand for corrective action that the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry made in March based on the Local Government Law.
3月に文部科学省から地方自治法に基づく是正要求を受けたのに、従わなかった。

As the prefectural board of education has approved the Taketomi Board of Education’s establishment of an independent educational district, the Taketomi board will be able to adopt textbooks of its own choice beginning next fiscal year. We cannot help but feel doubtful about the latest development, as it seems to have caved in to the hard line taken by the town board.
 県教委が竹富町を独立した採択地区と認めたことで、竹富町教委は来年度以降に使用する教科書について、単独での採択が可能になった。ごね得とも言える展開には疑問を禁じ得ない。

We must remember that the current state of unlawfulness will remain until the end of this fiscal year. This development is quite problematic from the viewpoint of legal compliance.
 忘れてはならないのは、今年度いっぱいは、違法状態が続くことだ。法令順守の観点から、極めて問題がある。

Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura said the ministry would not file a lawsuit against the Taketomi town government to formally establish the illegality of the town board’s actions.
 下村文科相は、竹富町を相手とした違法確認訴訟は起こさない方針を表明した。

He has reportedly concluded that even if the education ministry wins the suit and has the town board change the textbook for use at public schools, it would only cause confusion in classrooms in the middle of an academic year. But this does not mean Shimomura approves of the current state of illegality.
これは、勝訴しても年度途中で使用教科書を変えると、学校現場が混乱しかねないと懸念したためだ。現在の違法状態を容認したわけではない。

The prefectural board of education carries a grave responsibility for allowing the confusion to drag on.
 混乱を長引かせた県教委の責任は、重大である。

Dispute over textbooks

In the summer of 2011, the textbook selection council of the Yaeyama district chose a civic studies textbook published by Ikuhosha Publishing Inc. for use in middle schools. The council selected the textbook because it contains a full description of territorial issues.
 八重山地区の採択地区協議会が中学校の公民教科書に育鵬社版を選んだのは、2011年夏だった。領土に関する記述が充実しているといった理由からだ。

Despite the council’s selection, however, the Taketomi Board of Education unilaterally decided to use a textbook published by Tokyo Shoseki Co.
 これに対し、竹富町教委のみが東京書籍版を採択した。

The prefectural board of education has not taken steps to have the Taketomi Board of Education take corrective action. Even when the education ministry instructed the prefectural board of education last October to demand the Taketomi Board of Education conform, the prefectural board did nothing.
 県教委は竹富町教委に、適切な働きかけをしていない。文科省が県教委に対して昨年10月、竹富町教委への是正要求を指示した際も、動かなかった。

The joint textbook adoption system allows small local municipalities with limited personnel to cooperate with each other in selecting school textbooks. Joint textbook adoption districts comprise local municipalities that share the same sense of unity geographically and culturally.
 そもそも共同採択制度は、人員に限りのある小規模自治体が協力して教科書を選ぶ仕組みだ。地理的、文化的な一体性を持つ市町村が共同採択地区を形成する。

The law on the free provision of school textbooks was revised in April as some cases emerged in which the demarcation of the joint textbook adoption district would no longer correspond to the distribution of local communities and their livelihoods due to mergers of cities, towns and villages in recent years.
 近年の市町村合併で、採択地区の線引きが現状に合わない例も出てきたため、4月に教科書無償措置法が改正された。

The revision changed the description of administrative units of joint textbook adoption districts from “cities and counties” to “cities, towns and villages,” allowing textbooks to be selected by educational districts that combine towns and villages more flexibly.
採択地区の設定単位を「市郡」から「市町村」に変え、柔軟な組み合わせができるようにしたのが特徴だ。

The Taketomi Board of Education, apparently by distorting the meaning of the legal revision to its own advantage, demanded that it could break away from the educational district. Yet the ties among municipalities within the Yaeyama district remain strong. There are no special circumstances surrounding the district due to the recent merger of municipalities. The secession of the Taketomi Board of Education was not made in line with the purport of the law revision.
 竹富町教委はこれを逆手に取って離脱を要望した。しかし、八重山地区の結びつきは今も強い。市町村合併といった事情は見当たらない。竹富町の離脱は、法改正の趣旨を踏まえたものではない。

It is only reasonable that the boards of education of Ishigaki and Yonaguni have called for leaving the current framework in place.
 石垣市と与那国町が現行の枠組みの維持を求めたのは当然だ。

It is regrettable that such a natural procedure as the board of education selecting a textbook in compliance with laws and ordinances has been ignored.
 法令を守って、教科書を採択する。当たり前のことがないがしろにされたのは、残念である。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 27, 2014)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-29 07:38 | 英字新聞

中国機異常接近 習政権は常軌逸した挑発慎め

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:22 pm, May 26, 2014
China fighters’ abnormally close flying to SDF planes an aberrant provocation
中国機異常接近 習政権は常軌逸した挑発慎め

An incident has taken place that must be condemned as a thoughtless and extremely dangerous provocation, an act that came within a hair’s breadth of a midair collision. We absolutely will not overlook this occurrence.
 一歩間違えば衝突事故につながりかねない、非常識かつ極めて危険な挑発行為である。看過することはできない。

Two Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets belonging to the Chinese military flew abnormally close to a Maritime Self-Defense Force OP-3C image data acquisition plane and an Air Self-Defense Force YS-11EB electronic intelligence plane Saturday, which were flying over the high seas in the East China Sea.
 中国軍のSU27戦闘機2機が24日、東シナ海の公海上空を飛行していた海上自衛隊のOP3C画像情報収集機と、航空自衛隊のYS11EB情報収集機に異常接近した。

The incident occurred in airspace where Japan’s air defense identification zone overlaps with what China claims as its own ADIZ. One of the Chinese fighters was reported to have flown roughly 50 meters from the OP-3C aircraft, while the other came as close as about 30 meters from the YS-11EB plane.
 現場は、日本の防空識別圏と、中国が主張する防空識別圏が重なる空域である。中国軍機はOP3Cには約50メートル、YS11EBには約30メートルまで近づいたという。

International law does not explicitly stipulate the distance that airplanes should maintain from one another for safety purposes. However, the recent acts of flying extraordinarily close to the SDF planes are an affront to what are considered norms in the international community.
 国際法上、航空機同士が安全のため確保すべき距離は定められていないが、今回のような異常接近は国際常識から外れている。

On Sunday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera criticized China for its fighters’ aggressive behavior toward the SDF aircraft as “completely aberrant acts.” The Japanese government has lodged a protest over the incident through diplomatic channels, a natural response to the Chinese warplanes’ extremely close approaches.
 小野寺防衛相は「常軌を逸した近接行動だ」と中国を批判した。日本政府は外交ルートを通じ中国に抗議した。当然の対応だ。

The incident took place while China and Russia were conducting joint naval exercises in the East China Sea. The Defense Ministry said that at the time of the incident, the SDF planes were engaged in ordinary warning and surveillance duties at a considerable distance from the China-Russia exercise area. The Chinese Defense Ministry, however, issued a statement Sunday claiming that the SDF planes “monitored and interfered with the joint military drill by the navies of China and Russia.”
 東シナ海では、中国とロシアが合同演習を実施していた。防衛省によると、自衛隊機は演習区域から離れた場所で通常の警戒監視任務中だったが、中国国防省は「自衛隊機が中露合同演習を偵察、妨害した」との声明を発表した。

In the past, there have been several instances in which helicopters and airplanes of China’s State Oceanic Administration flew close to—within 100 meters—MSDF destroyers in the East China Sea.
 中国は過去にも、国家海洋局のヘリコプターや航空機が東シナ海で数回、海自の護衛艦の100メートル以内を近接飛行した例がある。

SDF must not waver

The fighter jets that made extremely close approaches to the SDF planes were equipped with missiles and capable of flying at a far higher velocity. Beijing’s attempt to unilaterally justify such a dangerous show of force is absolutely unforgivable. While paying due attention to safety, the SDF must be resolute in continuing its warning and surveillance activities.
 今回は、ミサイルを搭載し、速度も速い戦闘機だ。より危険な示威活動を一方的に正当化しようとすることは許されない。自衛隊は安全に配慮しつつ、警戒監視活動をきちんと継続すべきだ。

Behind the unusual approaches by the Chinese fighters may be the hard-line posture of the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping, which has been pursuing a policy of expanding China’s hegemony in both the East China and South China seas under the banner of building the nation into a maritime power.
 中国機の異常接近の背景には、「海洋強国」建設を掲げ、東・南シナ海で覇権の拡大を目指す習近平政権の強硬姿勢があろう。

It is worrying that the Chinese troops deployed in these areas may repeat such extreme shows of force.
 懸念されるのは、中国軍の現場部隊が今後も、過激な示威活動を繰り返しかねないことだ。

As demonstrated by an incident in January last year, in which a Chinese frigate locked its weaponry radar on an MSDF destroyer in the East China Sea, it is highly likely that the Chinese military has yet to put in place rules of engagement that would clearly prohibit military acts that run contrary to international norms.
 昨年1月の海自艦船へのレーダー照射事件で明らかになったように、軍隊の国際常識に反する行為を明確に禁止する部隊行動基準(ROE)さえ中国軍には整っていない可能性が高いと見られる。

In reference to the radar-locking incident, a meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium held in China in April this year with 21 countries taking part adopted the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, defining such acts as targeting radar at a foreign naval vessel as “actions to be avoided.”
 レーダー照射に関しては、今年4月、中国で開かれた21か国の西太平洋海軍シンポジウムで採択された行動規範で、「回避すべき行動」に位置づけられた。

Japan, for its part, should draft an international code of conduct and a set of rules regarding military affairs for the prevention of a contingency or a collision of warships or aircraft, in close cooperation with the United States and other relevant countries, with the aim of persistently urging China to participate in the framework of rules.
 日本は、米国や関係国と緊密に連携し、不慮の事故や衝突を防止する軍事的な国際行動規範やルールを策定して、中国に参加を粘り強く促すことが重要だ。

Efforts should also be made to resume currently stalled consultations between Tokyo and Beijing to formulate a bilateral “maritime liaison mechanism” focusing on such matters as the establishment of a hotline between senior defense officers of the two countries, with a view to achieving an agreement on the matter as early as possible.
 制服組幹部間のホットライン設置などを柱とする日中の「海上連絡メカニズム」の協議も再開し、早期合意を目指したい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 26, 2014)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-28 07:47 | 英字新聞

国会改革 党首討論の定例化から始めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:08 pm, May 25, 2014
Reform of Diet should give priority to regular debates among party heads
国会改革 党首討論の定例化から始めよ

Working-level members from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner New Komeito as well as the Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) have compiled measures to make Diet debates more efficient and substantial. The issue, pending from last year, has finally moved forward.
 自民、公明の与党と民主党、日本維新の会の4党実務者が国会審議の効率化と充実に向けた具体策をまとめた。昨年来の懸案が、ようやく前進したことになる。

After coordinating their proposals with other parties, the four parties should seek to have them adopted by the Diet in the next session.
 他党とも調整した上で、次の国会から適用すべきだ。

The pillar of their proposals is to reduce the appearances of the prime minister and Cabinet ministers before the Diet, and, instead, hold debates once a month in principle among the party heads from the ruling and opposition parties on essential issues.
 4党案は、首相や閣僚の国会出席を軽減する代わりに、与野党の党首が論戦する党首討論を原則、毎月1回開催することが柱だ。

The Japanese prime minister and Cabinet members are tied up with Diet schedules far more than their counterparts in the United States and European nations. It is a matter of course for the government to be made accountable, but it is putting the cart before the horse to require these leaders to answer questions in the Diet at the expense of their diplomatic and domestic political duties.
 欧米各国と比べて、日本の首相や閣僚は国会に拘束される時間が突出して長い。政府が国会で説明責任を果たすのは当然だが、国会答弁に追われて外交や内政にしわ寄せが生じるなら本末転倒だ。

It is appropriate to lighten the burdens of the prime minister and Cabinet members so as to allow them to dedicate their energies to their primary duties.
 首相と閣僚の負担を減らし、本来の業務に力を振り向けさせるのは妥当な考え方である。

Under the proposals, the prime minister’s attendance at both chambers’ budget committees would be limited to basic and concluding question-and-answer sessions and “intensive deliberations on certain issues deemed necessary.” Without stretching the interpretation of this stipulation, the prime minister’s attendance in the Diet should be limited.
 4党の案は、首相の予算委員会出席を基本的質疑や締めくくり質疑、「必要と認められる特定の事案に関する集中審議」に限定した。この規定を拡大解釈せず、首相の出席は抑制すべきだろう。

Supplementing the reduced duties of the prime minister with more debates among the party heads is a significant idea. There are many challenges that party heads must debate, such as the revision of the government’s constitutional interpretation over the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Abenomics economic policies and reforms of the nation’s social security system.
 負担軽減の一方で、党首討論を活用する意義は大きい。集団的自衛権行使を巡る憲法解釈の変更問題や、安倍政権の経済政策「アベノミクス」、社会保障制度改革など、政党のトップ同士が論ずべき課題は多い。

No debates so far this year

Under the current system, party heads are supposed to hold debates once a week in principle. But there is an agreement among the parties that debates will not be held in weeks when the prime minister has to attend such Diet meetings as plenary and Budget Committee sessions.
 現在も党首討論は、週1回開催を原則としているが、首相が本会議や予算委などに出席する週は開かないとの申し合わせがある。

As the opposition parties prefer Budget Committee sessions, where it is easier for them to secure more time for questioning, debates among party heads have not been held so far this year. Party heads should be required to hold regular debates as part of this reform so party leaders will be able to hold substantial debates from a broader perspective.
 野党は、党首討論より審議時間を確保しやすい予算委を優先していることなどから、今年は一度も開かれていない。今度こそ定例化を実現し、大局的な観点からの論議を充実させるべきだ。

To make Diet deliberations on lawmaker-sponsored bills more meaningful, the proposals call for holding free debates between Diet members. As most bills submitted to the Diet are by the Cabinet, it is essential to promote legislation initiated by lawmakers.
 議員提出法案の審議を充実させるため、議員同士による自由討議を活用するという。多くの法案は内閣提出だ。議員立法の活用も進めねばならない。

Among other recommendations are that overseas trips by Cabinet members be approved in principle and that the senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries take charge for absent ministers. Reducing the burden on bureaucrats preparing ministers’ Diet answers by requiring Diet members to submit questions to the government early is also included in the proposals. Since these measures are all expected to make Diet deliberations more efficient, we hope the proposals will be carried out in their entirety.
 閣僚の海外出張を基本的に容認し、副大臣や政務官らが対応するとした。国会議員が質問内容を早い段階で政府に通告し、答弁準備にあたる官僚の負担を軽減させるという。いずれも国会審議を効率化する効果が期待できる。徹底してもらいたい。

Their proposals, however, are unsatisfactory in that they do not address the problem of a divided Diet, a situation in which the House of Councillors is controlled by the opposition, while the ruling camp has a majority in the House of Representatives. During the years of such a split Diet, opposition parties frustrated administrations by rejecting the government’s personnel appointments that required Diet approval. Narrowing the range of personnel appointments requiring Diet approval also merits consideration.
 物足りないのは、衆参のねじれに対応する取り組みを見送ったことだ。ねじれ国会では、野党は衆参両院の同意を必要とする国会同意人事を否決し、政権を揺さぶった。同意人事の範囲を絞るなどの見直しを検討してはどうか。

The ruling and opposition parties should calmly tackle such a challenge now that the Diet is no longer divided.
 与野党は、ねじれが解消した今こそ、こうした課題に冷静に取り組むべきである。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 25, 2014)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-27 07:40 | 英字新聞

(社説)年金受給年齢 信頼をこわさぬように

May 24, 2014
EDITORIAL: Securing public confidence vital for pension reform
(社説)年金受給年齢 信頼をこわさぬように

A hot topic in the media is when is the best time for people to start receiving pension benefits.
Interest in the issue surged after Norihisa Tamura, the welfare minister, indicated that the government will consider allowing people to push back the age at which they start receiving benefits to 75.
 「年金を何歳から受け取り始めるか」という議論が、メディアで話題を集めている。きっかけは田村厚生労働相が、75歳まで遅らせる選択肢を検討する意向を示したことだ。

Discussions on the minimum or best age to claim state pension benefits tend to cause misunderstandings. The government should tread carefully in considering any related proposal to avoid undermining public confidence that is vital for the health of the state pension program.
 年金の受給開始年齢をめぐる議論は誤解も生みやすい。公的年金の生命線である「信頼感」を損ねないよう注意深く進めるべきだ。

First of all, it should be noted that Tamura did not say the age of eligibility, or the earliest age at which people can claim benefits, will be delayed to 75.
 まず、厚労相は「75歳からしか受け取れなくする」と言ったわけではない。

Currently, people can freely choose the age to start receiving benefits between ages 60 and 70. The proposal Tamura referred to would raise the maximum age to 75.
 いま、年金を受け取り始める年齢は60歳から70歳の間で自由に選べる。それを最長75歳まで遅らせることを可能にしてはどうかという提案だ。

If you begin receiving benefits earlier, you will naturally receive money over a longer period, but the monthly amount will be smaller. If you delay the start, the monthly benefits will be larger.
 早くから受け取れば、もらえる期間が長くなり、その分、1カ月あたりの年金額は減る。逆に遅くすれば、月額は増える。

People can choose the age at which they become pensioners according to their own life plans.
これは個々人が自分の人生設計に照らして考えればいい。

What is controversial is the proposal to increase the age of eligibility for all recipients as a way to improve the financially troubled pension system.
 問題は、年金財政を好転させるために、受給開始年齢を一律に遅らせる考え方だ。

This approach would increase funds to finance pension benefits for future retirees by reducing current pension payouts.
当面の年金給付額が削減される分、将来世代に年金を払う原資が増えるメリットがある。

But this idea would not necessarily benefit younger generations because the age of eligibility cannot be raised at once.
 ただ、若い世代はみなメリットがあるかと言えば、そうでもない。年齢の引き上げは一気にできないからだ。

Currently, the earliest age retired corporate employees can claim the earnings-linked second tier of benefits under the employees’ pension program is being increased in stages from 60 to 65.
The entire process, from the decision to increase the pension age to the completion of the increase, will take 25 to 30 years.
 現在、厚生年金(報酬比例部分)の受給開始年齢は60歳から65歳に段階的に引き上げられているが、これも決定から完了まで25~30年かけている。

Even if the government decides now to increase the age of pension eligibility to 68 for all retired employees, the decision would not affect today’s elderly pensioners.
 仮に現時点で受給開始年齢を一律に68歳に引き上げることを決めても、今の高齢者には影響を与えない。

Cuts in benefits due to the increase in the age of eligibility would start with young generations who tend to be deeply discontent with the current pension system. That means this idea would not do much to reduce the pension gap between generations.
 給付削減は、年金に強い不信を抱く若い世代から始まることになり、世代間の格差を緩和する効果は薄い。

The step could even increase young generations’ resentment toward the system and create an enormous wave of distrust of the whole social system that is supposed to support people’s retirement.
不満は一層高まり、老後を支える社会システム全体への不信の爆発へと連鎖する恐れがある。

Rather, the government should focus on considering reform measures that also affect people who are already receiving pensions. Ideas that merit serious consideration include a system for macroeconomic adjustment that would reduce pension payouts if the population shrinks, as well as reviews of the taxation on pensions and assets.
 それより、すでに年金を受け取り始めている層にも効く改革案、たとえば人口減少などにあわせ給付を抑える「マクロ経済スライド」の早期発動、年金や資産への課税見直しなどを優先的に検討すべきだろう。

What is crucial is to reassure people that they will receive pension benefits to help support themselves until the end of their lives. To ensure such a sense of security, the government should figure out the levels of benefits that need to be maintained while taking effective steps to increase job opportunities for the elderly.
 生きている限り、生活を支えられる現金が受け取れる――。この安心感を担保するため、高齢者雇用を広げながら、どのくらいの年金水準を維持すべきかを考えていきたい。

If the government rushes into cuts in benefits in its efforts to ensure the financial sustainability of the pension plan, it would risk raising fears among people that they will not receive sufficient pensions in their retirement. That would make absolutely no sense.
 年金財政の帳尻を、給付削減で合わせようとするあまり、多くの国民が「年金がない。あっても低すぎる」と絶望に陥ってしまっては元も子もない。

Policymakers should not forget the importance of combining employment and pension for making people’s retirement financially secure.
 老後の生活は、雇用と年金をあわせて支えていく。この視点を忘れるべきでない。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 24
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-26 10:23 | 英字新聞

タイクーデター 軍の全権掌握に正統性はない

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:23 pm, May 24, 2014
Thai military's takeover of country cannot be justified in any way
タイクーデター 軍の全権掌握に正統性はない

Thailand’s military has staged a coup amid prolonged political turmoil, making the nation’s political prospects even more uncertain.
 政治混迷の続くタイで軍がクーデターに踏み切った。事態の先行きは一層不透明になった。

Thai Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Thursday that the military had taken full control of the nation, declaring a coup following Tuesday’s imposition of martial law.
 タイのプラユット陸軍司令官が22日、「軍が国家の全権を掌握した」と発表した。20日の戒厳令発令に続くクーデター宣言だ。

With the collapse earlier this month of the government supporting former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council, which primarily comprises military leaders, will be in charge of running the nation for the time being. Prayuth will assume the post of acting prime minister.
 タクシン元首相派の政権は崩壊し、当面、軍首脳らで構成する「国家平和秩序維持評議会」が国家運営にあたる。プラユット氏が首相代行を務める。

It was a drastic change of government in line with the stance of the anti-Thaksin camp, which had been calling on the administration to resign.
政権退陣を求めていた反タクシン派の立場に沿った政変と言えよう。

This is the first coup since 2006, when Thaksin, who had been under fire for allegedly amassing a fortune illegally, was ousted as prime minister.
 クーデターは、2006年に不正蓄財疑惑で批判されたタクシン首相が失脚させられて以来だ。

Thailand has a history of attempting to end political turmoil by military coups. This coup was probably staged as a military attempt to end the confusion, given the abnormal situation in which the prime minister was sacked while the lower house of parliament had been dissolved.
 タイには、軍がクーデターにより、政治混乱の収拾を図ってきた歴史がある。今回は、下院が解散したまま、首相が失職するという異常事態を受けて、軍が混迷に終止符を打とうとしたのだろう。

The military is thought to be aiming to put the nation on a path to stability before transferring power to civilian control.
 軍は、安定化への道筋を付け、その後に民政移管することを考えているとみられる。

Whatever its reason may be, ignoring democratic procedures and toppling the government by force should never be condoned.
 しかし、どのような理由であれ、軍が、民主的な手続きを無視し、力によって政権を打倒する行為は、到底容認できない。

Military lacks legitimacy

Even though it has seized full power, the military clearly lacks legitimacy. It is suppressing human rights by imposing a nighttime curfew and restricting the freedom to assemble.
 全権を掌握しても、軍に正統性がないのは明らかだ。夜間外出禁止令や、集会の自由の制限なども課し、人権を抑圧している。

It was appropriate for Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to express regret and say, “We strongly urge [Thailand] to swiftly restore a democratic political regime.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also sharply criticized the Thai military, saying he was “disappointed” by its decision.
 岸田外相が、遺憾の意を表明した上で、「民主的な政治体制が速やかに回復することを強く求める」と述べたのは当然だ。ケリー米国務長官も、軍の行動に「失望している」と厳しく批判した。

The military should now find a way to realize political stability through persistent dialogue with various political camps.
 軍は今後、政治の安定に向け、各派との粘り強い対話を通じ、着地点を探すことが求められる。

The faction supporting Thaksin has been calling for an election under the current electoral system, which would put the pro-Thaksin camp at an advantage, while the anti-Thaksin camp has been demanding that electoral system reforms be given priority. Under such circumstances, it is no easy task to reach a conclusion that pleases every party concerned, including the military.
 タクシン派は自派に有利な現行選挙制度での総選挙実施を訴えてきたが、反タクシン派は選挙制度改革を優先させるよう求めている。軍を含む各当事者が満足する結論を出すのは容易ではない。

Of concern is the possibility that Thaksin supporters will stage demonstrations and clash with the military, leading to a situation similar to the armed suppression of Thaksin supporters by the military in 2010, which resulted in more than 90 fatalities. Both sides must exercise self-restraint and not repeat such a tragedy.
 懸念されるのは、タクシン派がデモを強行し、軍と衝突することだ。10年には、軍がタクシン派デモを武力鎮圧し、90人以上が犠牲になった。惨事を繰り返さぬよう、双方に自制が求められる。

It is difficult to fathom the consequences that the political imbroglio will have on the Thai economy. Indicators clearly show the Thai economy is already slowing, due mainly to sluggish consumer spending. The government’s failure to function effectively has already hindered budget compilation and the approval of large-scale investments.
 政治の混迷が、タイの経済に与える悪影響は計り知れない。消費低迷などで、既に成長の減速傾向が鮮明になっている。政府機能が十分に働かず、予算編成や大型投資の認可でも弊害が出ている。

The military should take it to heart that foreign investors, including Japanese companies, regard the nation’s political climate with its repeated coups as a risk factor for investing in Thailand.
 日本企業をはじめ、外国資本はクーデターが繰り返される政治風土自体を、タイのリスク要因と見なしている。軍は、そのことを肝に銘じるべきである。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 24, 2014)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-25 13:25 | 英字新聞

大飯差し止め―判決「無視」は許されぬ

May 22, 2014
EDITORIAL: Court ruling on Oi nuclear plant should be accepted
大飯差し止め―判決「無視」は許されぬ

The Fukui District Court’s ruling May 21 on the Oi nuclear power plant is a sober judgment that fully reflects the lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Both Kansai Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, and the government cannot afford to ignore the ruling.
 東京電力福島第一原発事故の教訓を最大限にくみ取った司法判断だ。電力事業者と国は重く受け止めなければならない。

The court ordered Kansai Electric not to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, which are currently offline for regular maintenance.
 関西電力大飯原発3、4号機(福井県おおい町)をめぐり、福井地裁が再稼働の差し止めを命じた。

The court said there was no way of knowing when an earthquake far more powerful than one the electric utility has braced for will strike.
Such an event, the court stated, could have grave consequences for residents living within a 250-kilometer radius of the plant in Oi, Fukui Prefecture.
 関電側の想定をはるかに上回る地震の可能性が否定できず、少なくとも250キロ圏内の住民に重大な被害を及ぼす恐れがある、と判断した。

Presiding Judge Hideaki Higuchi noted that the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant forced the evacuation of 150,000 local residents, which was the catalyst for the deaths of 60 people, including hospitalized patients.
The catastrophic accident three years ago revealed “the true nature of risks inherent in nuclear power technology and the scale of damage” that a serious nuclear accident can cause, Higuchi said.
 裁判長は、福島原発事故で15万人が避難を余儀なくされ、入院患者ら60人の関連死があったことに言及し、「原発技術の危険性の本質と被害の大きさが明らかになった」とした。

“If the court avoided making a judgment on whether there is even a million-to-one chance of such an accident happening (at the Oi plant), it would amount to a dereliction of duty,” he added.
 そして「同様の事態を招く危険性が万が一でもあるか。裁判所がその判断を避けることは、最も重要な責務を放棄するに等しい」と述べた。

Presiding over a case involving nuclear power requires considerable expertise. In past rulings, Japanese courts tended to accept what the plant operator and the government claimed at face value.
 原発は専門性が高く、過去の訴訟で裁判所は、事業者や国の判断を追認しがちだった。

We give high marks to the Fukui District Court’s decision. It suggests that the court is taking its role as vital guardian of the law very seriouslyafter the nuclear disaster.
事故を機に、法の番人としての原点に立ち返ったと言えよう。高く評価したい。

What is especially notable about the ruling is that it is based entirely on the viewpoint of protecting the lives and livelihoods of people.
 特筆されるのは、判決が、国民の命と暮らしを守る、という観点を貫いていることだ。

Kansai Electric argued that the reactors need to be brought back online to ensure a stable supply of electricity and to cut costs.
 関電側は電力供給の安定やコスト低減を理由に、再稼働の必要性を訴えた。

But the court ruling roundly criticized the utility’s argument.
“It is legally unacceptable to discuss people’s rights concerning their very existence and economic concerns about electricity rates in the same terms,” the court said.
これに対し、判決は「人の生存そのものにかかわる権利と、電気代の高い低いを同列に論じること自体、法的に許されない」と断じた。

The ruling also rejected the argument that “suspending nuclear power generation is detrimental to the national interest because it will lead to increasing Japan’s trade deficit and drain of national wealth.”
It said, “National wealth means that people can live lives firmly rooted in rich land.”
 「原発停止は貿易赤字を増やし、国富流出につながる」という考え方についても、「豊かな国土に、国民が根を下ろして生活していることが国富だ」と一蹴した。

Kansai Electric said it will appeal the ruling. The court ruling is also certain to elicit an angry response from the business community and the local governments hosting the nuclear plant, which both had their sights set on the reactors restarting.
 関電は控訴する方針だ。再稼働を望んできた経済界や立地自治体の反発も必至だろう。

The district court’s decision is bound to be welcomed by many Japanese who have been shaken by the great suffering that residents of Fukushima Prefecture have had to endure.
しかし、福島原発事故で人々が苦しむのを目の当たりにした多くの国民には、うなずける考え方なのではないか。

After the nuclear accident, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) was established as a more independent nuclear industry watchdog. This had led to more stringent nuclear safety standards than before.
 事故後、独立性の高い原子力規制委員会が設置され、新しい規制基準が定められた。

The Abe administration has moved to reactivate idled reactors if they pass the NRA’s safety checks.
安倍政権は規制委の審査に適合した原発は積極的に再稼働させていく方針を示している。

But the court also pointed out the “limit of human ability in the face of (the great forces of) nature.”
 だが、判決は「自然の前における人間の能力の限界」を指摘した。

There are still many unsolved issues with regard to the Fukushima nuclear disaster; for example, what precisely caused the accident and why damage cut across such wide areas.
The ruling was intended as a strong warning against a head-long rush to bring reactors back online based only on limited scientific knowledge.
「福島原発事故がなぜ起き、なぜ被害が広がったか」にすら多くのなぞが残る現状で、限られた科学的知見だけを根拠に再稼働にひた走る姿勢を厳に戒めたといえる。

The operators of nuclear plants, the government and the NRA should offer clear and straightforward answers to the questions raised by the court ruling.
 事業者や国、規制委は、判決が投げかけた疑問に正面から答えるべきだ。

They should not be allowed to ignore them, banking on the possibility that a higher court may overturn the lower court’s decision.
上級審での逆転をあてに、無視を決め込むようなことは許されない。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 22
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-24 08:02 | 英字新聞

原発事故証言―再稼働より全容公開だ

May 21, 2014
EDITORIAL: Startling Fukushima testimony raises grave questions
原発事故証言―再稼働より全容公開だ

When faced with a life-threatening crisis, humans do not necessarily behave according to set rules. Some will do anything to save their skins. Without factoring in this possibility, is it ever possible to design something that is guaranteed to be safe?
 危機が極まった局面では、人間は必ずしも規則通りには動かない。自らの命を優先する者もいる。それを計算に入れずに、どう安全を設計できるのか。

We raise the issue because of a document that recently came to light. It is a record of statements made by Masao Yoshida, who was the manager of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant at the time of the March 2011 disaster. Yoshida died last July of esophageal cancer.
This valuable document covers exchanges Yoshida made when he was questioned by the government's Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Co.
 福島第一原発の元所長、吉田昌郎(まさお)氏(昨年12月に死去)の証言を記録した「吉田調書」の内容が明らかになった。

The document begs a fundamental question: Is it right to entrust operations of nuclear power plants to electric power companies that are private enterprises?
 貴重な証言を読むと、根源的な疑問が浮かぶ。原発とは、一民間企業である電力会社に任せていいものなのか、と。

According to the document, Yoshida said that on March 15, four days after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 plant, fears were being voiced that the plant's No. 2 reactor containment vessel was damaged or destroyed. At that most critical juncture, according to the document, about 90 percent of plant workers defied Yoshida's orders and fled to the Fukushima No. 2 plant, about 10 kilometers away, to seek temporary refuge.
 政府の事故調査委員会による調書によると、発生4日後だった。原子炉そのものが壊れるかもしれない。その最悪の事態が心配されたとき、所員の9割が命令に反して10キロ余り離れた別の原発に一時退避したという。

Doubts have always existed about the efficacy of disaster response measures at nuclear power plants. Would any utility really order its workers to risk their lives and keep performing their duties? How many workers would the utility be able to continue to secure during an accident? At Fukushima, these questions were no longer just theoretical.
 原発の事故対応をめぐる疑問は以前からあった。電力会社は原発運転員らに「命が危なくても残って作業せよ」と命じられるのか。どこまで必要な人員を確保し続けられるのか。そう危惧される事態が実際に起きていたのである。

The safety of commercial nuclear power plants today can be maintained only if plant operators deal appropriately with any mishap. The more serious the situation, the more people are needed to contain the crisis. But unlike Self-Defense Forces personnel, police officers and firefighters, who are all special-status government workers, nuclear power plant operators are private-sector workers.
 現在の商業用原発は、異常が起きた場合、運転員が適切に対応して初めて安全が保たれる。深刻な状況になればなるほど、対応には人手が必要になる。だが、自衛官や警察官、消防士など特殊な公務員と違い、原発運転員は民間従業員である。

The 50 or so workers who stayed at the Fukushima No. 1 plant while the crisis unfolded came to be called the "Fukushima 50" and were lauded around the world for their heroic dedication. But there is no guarantee such heroism will come into play when the next nuclear crisis occurs. The document raises grave questions.
 当時、現場に残って献身的に働いた約50人は「フクシマ・フィフティー」と呼ばれ、世界から称賛された。だが、次の事故でもそんな英雄的精神が発揮される保証はない。吉田調書は重大な問題を投げかけている。

Yet, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, was reportedly not even aware of the document's existence. We find it extremely hard to understand that the head of this organization, created to prevent a recurrence of nuclear crisis, was not familiar with all the details from the outset of the Fukushima disaster.
 ところが原子力規制委員会の田中俊一委員長は調書の存在自体知らなかったという。事故を繰り返さないために生まれた規制組織が、事故の詳細を把握していないとは理解に苦しむ。

The possibility of plant workers deserting en masse during a crisis was not even raised during discussions last year on establishing new regulatory standards for nuclear power plants.
 原発の新しい規制基準が昨年つくられる過程でも、事故時の運転員たちの離脱は、その可能性さえ議論されてこなかった。

Yotaro Hatamura, an expert in the science of failures and former chairman of the government's investigation committee on the Fukushima accident, stated in the overview of the investigation report: "Whatever may happen will happen. Whatever is thought to never happen will also happen." Has nobody heeded Hatamura's warning?
 失敗学で知られる政府事故調の畑村洋太郎元委員長は、報告書の総括で「あり得ることは起こる。あり得ないと思うことも起こる」と述べた。その反省はどこへいってしまったのか。

The government's investigation committee interviewed 772 individuals in connection with the Fukushima disaster. There must be many valuable opinions that have yet to be made public.
 政府事故調は772人もの関係者から事情を聴いている。ほかにも貴重な論点が隠されているに違いない。

TEPCO must reveal every aspect of the mass desertion, and waste no time in doing so. The utility cannot be entrusted with nuclear power plant operations so long as it refuses to face the issue head-on.
 東京電力はただちに事実関係を明らかにすべきだ。この問題を正面から議論せずに原発運転を任せることはできない。

For its part, the government should disclose all investigation committee materials to the public and make every effort to ensure that people learn lessons from the Fukushima accident. In the absence of any such effort, we firmly oppose the restart of reactors that are currently off-line.
 政府は事故調の資料をすべて公開し、「福島の教訓」を国民的にくみ取る努力を尽くすべきだ。それなしに、再稼働へ突き進むことに反対する。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 21
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by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-23 07:50 | 英字新聞

中国の弾圧―理解できぬ言論封じ

May 20, 2014
EDITORIAL: What on earth is the Xi administration afraid of?
中国の弾圧―理解できぬ言論封じ

June 4 will mark the 25th anniversary of China’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, mainly students, at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
 民主化を求める学生らが弾圧された中国の天安門事件から、来月で四半世紀になる。

Lawyers and scholars who gathered for a small meeting to commemorate the event have recently been detained one after another.
 この事件について考える小さな集まりを開いた弁護士や学者が最近、次々に拘束された。

In an unacceptable move, the administration headed by President Xi Jinping is stepping up its efforts to suppress freedom of speech and public gatherings. We strongly urge the Chinese government to release all the detainees immediately.
 言論や集会への締めつけを強める習近平(シーチンピン)政権の振るまいは、看過できない。ただちに全員を釈放するよう強く求める。

Even today, people in China are not allowed to speak about the 1989 incident in public. The Chinese government, which does everything to maintain the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, still rejects the people’s thirst for democracy, just as it did a quarter of a century ago.
 今なお中国では、あの事件を公の場で語ることができない。共産党一党支配を続ける政権は当時と同様に、民主化の要求を受け入れようとしない。

The military opened fire on the Tiananmen protesters as it tried to quash the demonstration, killing many of them. Beijing is trying to place a gag on free speech to cover up this inconvenient historical fact.
 鎮圧に乗りだした軍が国民に銃を向け、多数を殺害した。そんな不都合な歴史にふたをするための言論封じでもあろう。

Chinese intellectuals and the families of the victims have been calling on the government to reveal the truth about the incident and reassess it.
 知識人や遺族らは、真相の解明や再評価を求めてきた。

A dozen or so people gathered for a private meeting held in Beijing on May 3.
今月3日に北京で開かれた会合も、その活動の一つとして、十数人が集まった。

Among them, five central figures, including Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent civil rights lawyer, and Xu Youyu, a liberal intellectual, have apparently been detained. Contact with them has been lost since May 4.
 そのうち人権派弁護士の浦志強氏、自由主義知識人の徐友漁氏ら、中心的な5人が翌日以降連絡がつかなくなっている。

The fact that Pu and the others were rounded up immediately after the gathering indicates that security authorities had been constantly watching their movements.
 会合直後に摘発したという事実は、当局が常に浦氏らを監視していたことをものがたる。

They have been apparently charged with “creating a disturbance.” But it is hard to understand how such a small private gathering can be regarded as a “disturbance.”
 容疑は「騒ぎを引き起こした罪」だとされる。この内輪のささやかな集まりがなぜ「騒ぎ」なのか、理解に苦しむ。

For many years, Pu has been working hard to improve the human rights situation in China. Pu’s biggest achievement so far is his successful campaign for the abolition of the so-called re-education through labor system, which was announced by the Xi administration late last year.
The controversial system, commonly known as "laojiao," was used to detain people for political education through labor for long periods without an open trial.
 浦氏は長年、人権の改善に尽力してきた。最大の功績は、裁判なしに拘束、長期労働させる「労働矯正制度」を昨年末、習政権に撤廃させたことだ。

The program, which dates back to the era of Mao Tse-tung, had also been used to suppress free speech. Pu has long been calling for its abolition. This background has made his detention all the more shocking.
 毛沢東時代以来のその制度は言論弾圧にも使われ、浦氏はずっと廃止を呼びかけてきた。それだけに今回の拘束は大きな衝撃を与えている。

In addition, prominent journalist Gao Yu, a former reporter for Xinhua news agency who was once involved in the Tiananmen movement, has gone missing. Some other domestic and foreign journalists have also been detained.
 ほかにも、天安門の運動に加わった経歴のある元新華社記者の高瑜氏が行方不明になっており、別の内外の報道関係者も複数拘束されている。

Human rights groups and research institutes around the world have issued statements voicing concern about these moves.
 こうした事態に憂慮を深める声明が、世界の人権団体や研究組織から相次いでいる。

A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the international criticism, saying that since China is a nation under the rule of law, any violation of Chinese law is punished according to the law.
 中国外務省報道官は「中国は法治国家である。中国の法律に触れれば、法によって処罰される」と反論している。

But does a country that detains people who only gathered for discussions deserve to be called a nation ruled by law?
 しかし、ただ集まって語り合っただけの人びとを捕まえるような国が法治国家の名に値するだろうか。

Beijing’s abuse of the legal system to silence dissent has only been getting worse. In April, a Chinese appellate court upheld the four-year prison sentence for prominent legal scholar and rights advocate Xu Zhiyong. He was convicted of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” Xu has been leading a grass-roots New Citizens’ Movement, which calls for the protection of people’s rights based on the Constitution.
 司法による言論弾圧の動きは強まるばかりだ。憲法に基づく権利を求めた「新公民運動」の主導者、許志永氏は先月、「公共の秩序を乱した罪」で懲役4年が確定した。

What on earth is the Xi administration afraid of? Its adamant determination not to allow any political organizations or dissenting voices that challenge the Communist Party’s grip on power can only be considered a sign of its lack of self-confidence.
 習政権はいったい、何を恐れているのか。共産党以外の政治組織も主張も一切認めぬ、かたくなな態度は、自信のなさを示しているとしか思えない。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 20
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-22 07:50 | 英字新聞

インフラ老朽化 橋とトンネルの点検を着実に

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:13 pm, May 19, 2014
Safety inspections for antiquated bridges, tunnels urgently needed
インフラ老朽化 橋とトンネルの点検を着実に

Inspections of aging infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels are urgently needed to promptly work out and implement safety measures. This is a challenge that weighs heavily on local governments around the country.
 老朽化する橋やトンネルを点検し、迅速に安全対策を講じなくてはならない。全国の自治体にとって重い課題だ。

Effective from July, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will make it obligatory for bridges and tunnels under the administration of prefectural governments as well as those managed by city, town and village municipalities to receive safety checks every five years. Local governments are supposed to assess the safety of bridges and tunnels in four stages, and take countermeasures corresponding to the respective stages.
 国土交通省は7月から都道府県道や市町村道にある橋やトンネルを5年ごとに点検するよう、各自治体に義務付ける。自治体は橋やトンネルの安全性を4段階で自己評価し、レベルに応じた対策に取り組む。

If a structure is judged as being in a “state requiring emergency measures,” with impediments to its proper functions or having an extremely high possibility of impediments, the rules laid down by the ministry call for the local government concerned to carry out swift repairs and impose necessary traffic regulations.
 構造物の機能に支障が生じたり、その可能性が著しく高かったりする「緊急措置段階」と診断された場合は、迅速な修繕や通行規制を実施するルールだ。

Up to now, there have been no criteria of safety inspections common to all local governments, such as frequency of inspections and safety evaluation methods. The central government’s action is proper, as it is aimed at obliging local entities to carry out safety inspections and assessments uniformly to resolve the problem of decaying infrastructure.
 自治体には共通の点検基準がなく、検査の頻度や、安全性の評価方法はまちまちだった。政府が点検や安全診断を一律に自治体へ課し、老朽化対策を進めるのは妥当と言えよう。

What is problematic in this connection is that damage to and deterioration of infrastructure, or social overhead capital, such as bridges and tunnels, many of which were built during the period of rapid economic growth, will certainly worsen rapidly from now on.
 懸念されるのは、高度成長期に整備された橋やトンネルといったインフラ(社会資本)の損傷や劣化が今後、急速に進むことだ。

About 40 percent of bridges throughout the country and about 30 percent of tunnels will be more than 50 years old in 10 years from now.
 完成から50年以上が経過する施設は10年後、全国の橋で約4割、トンネルで約3割にも達する。

It should be noted that it is not the central government but local governments that are in charge of administering 90 percent of the nation’s 700,000 bridges and 70 percent of the 10,000 tunnels. Local entities must lose no time in buckling down to the task of dealing with aging infrastructure.
 特に自治体は、全国に約70万ある橋の9割、約1万に上るトンネルの7割を管理している。自治体の老朽化対策は待ったなしだ。

Scarcity of engineers

Infrastructure safety measures taken so far by local governments are inadequate.
 これまで自治体の安全対策は十分だったとは言い難い。

A fact-finding survey the ministry conducted in the wake of the collapse of part of the ceiling of the Sasago Tunnel of the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi Prefecture in December 2012 revealed that 30 percent of local governments with tunnels under their jurisdiction had never conducted a safety inspection of any tunnel before the Sasago Tunnel collapse.
 2012年12月に起きた中央自動車道・笹子トンネルでの天井板崩落事故を受けて、国交省が実態を調査したところ、事故後になって、初めてトンネルを点検した市町村は約3割に達した。

The reluctance of local governments to carry out repairs on aging infrastructure may be due to a shortage of funds and inadequate technical capabilities.
 多くの自治体が老朽化対策に消極的な背景には、予算や技術力が乏しい事情がうかがえる。

Therefore, the central government’s action simply to oblige local governments to conduct regular safety inspections and come up with safety evaluations may not produce the desired results.
 国が自治体に定期点検や安全性の評価を義務付けるだけでは、対策の効果は十分に上がるまい。

It is necessary for both the central government and local entities to redouble their efforts to secure sources of funds to deal with aging infrastructure and beef up collaboration with private-sector businesses.
 政府・自治体は、老朽化対策の財源確保や民間企業との連携強化に工夫を凝らす必要がある。

It may be inevitable to close down bridges and tunnels that have seen little use in depopulated areas to reduce the number of those to be inspected and repaired to cut expenditures.
 過疎化でほとんど利用されていない橋やトンネルは閉鎖して点検や修繕の対象を絞り込み、費用を抑制することもやむを得ない。

If a number of city, town and village governments got together in issuing contracts to repair aging infrastructure, they would be able to boost the efficiency in budgetary appropriations.
複数の市町村が企業に修繕を一括発注できれば、予算の効率的な執行に役立つだろう。

Meanwhile, local governments also suffer from a serious shortage of engineers to maintain and repair infrastructure. About 50 percent of the country’s town governments and 70 percent of village governments have no engineers capable of inspecting bridges.
 自治体の技術者不足も深刻だ。橋を点検できる職員のいない町は全国の5割、村は7割に上る。

Is it not possible for the central government and businesses to send engineers to local entities plagued by manpower shortages and have them carry out inspections and repairs on infrastructure that require a high level of skill?
 国や企業の技術者を人材難の自治体に派遣し、高度な技術を要する点検・修繕を代行させる仕組みが考えられないか。

Due consideration also should be given to training courses to improve the technical capabilities of local governments so they can carry out infrastructure maintenance and create an ability-based qualification system.
 自治体の技術力を高める研修を充実したり、資格制度を新設したりする方策も検討に値しよう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 19, 2014)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2014-05-21 07:00 | 英字新聞