社会保障改革 方向は与野党で一致している

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 15, 2010)
Parties must cooperate on social security
社会保障改革 方向は与野党で一致している(12月14日付・読売社説)

The government and ruling parties have come up with a proposal to promote social security reforms. The basic principles in the proposal are based on the following two pillars:

-- Setting up a permanent suprapartisan meeting to discuss the issue.

-- Drafting concrete plans on social security reform and the taxes that will fund the reforms by the middle of next year.

However, the Liberal Democratic Party and some other parties oppose the proposal, saying that the Democratic Party of Japan did not agree to take part in suprapartisan talks when it was in the opposition. Given the critical situation surrounding social security and fiscal conditions at present, policymakers must not use the issue to score political points.

Lawmakers also must not be allowed to postpone the deadline on the plan. The DPJ must reflect on what it did as an opposition party while the LDP should sit down at the negotiating table without chafing at what happened in the past.

Shared principles exist

The basic principles are fleshed out in a report by a panel of experts set up by the government and the ruling parties. The report is titled "Social security visions for realizing a sense of security and vitality."

The report called for principles such as building a social security system that seamlessly covers people of all ages and securing stable fiscal resources so as not to pile financial burdens on future generations. It also proposed using the consumption tax exclusively for social security purposes.

The report's proposals significantly overlap those written in a different report by a panel of experts tasked with realizing a secure society under the LDP-led government of former Prime Minister Taro Aso. The older report even had a similar title: "Toward a Japan with a sense of security and vitality."

This shows that the change of government has not altered the basic policies needed by society.

The current government's report also calls for setting up a task force on social security comprising experts and lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties. The envisaged panel is quite similar to something the Aso administration proposed: the roundtable for realizing a secure society.

These facts clearly show that the ruling and opposition parties have many things in common in their ideas and way of thinking when it comes to social security policies.
The next step is to take action.

Govt must move first

As an initial step, the government and ruling parties must show how serious they are about realizing the basic principles of social security reform. They must present concrete proposals as soon as possible on key points, such as how much the consumption tax rate should be raised. If the government and ruling parties merely call on the opposition bloc to join suprapartisan talks, opposition parties will likely find it difficult to agree.

The administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan is having difficulty in finding fiscal resources for each of the main social security fields, including medical care, nursing care, pensions and child care, in the budget compilation for fiscal 2011.

The greatest cause of the problem is the DPJ's election manifesto, which included many pledges that have proven extremely difficult to realize. In addition, the DPJ has been putting off discussions on the consumption tax hike, just as the coalition government of the LDP and New Komeito did, and has failed to secure stable revenue sources to implement necessary policies.

If the situation is allowed to stand as it is, Japan's social security system will surely continue to be mired in a stalemate.

It is necessary for lawmakers to move beyond party affiliations in order to build a stable social security system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 14, 2010)
(2010年12月14日01時25分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-12-15 11:41 | 英字新聞

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