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zoom RSS (社説)日本の財政再建 やはり先送りは危うい

<<   作成日時 : 2015/07/02 11:32   >>

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--The Asahi Shimbun, June 30
EDITORIAL: Japan’s fiscal crunch requires immediate action
(社説)日本の財政再建 やはり先送りは危うい

Japan is submerged in debt. As of March, the government was in hock for 1.053 quadrillion yen, twice as much as the nation’s gross domestic product.
Japan’s public finances are in worse shape than any other industrial nation, even than Greece, which is trapped in a serious debt crisis. Government bonds outstanding account for over 80 percent of the nation’s overall debt load.
 日本の財政は、借金漬けだ。国の借金残高は今年3月で1053兆円、国内総生産(GDP)の2倍と先進国の中で最悪の水準であり、債務危機にあえぐギリシャをも上回る。借金の8割強は、国債である。

During the current fiscal year, which started in April, the Japanese government will have to issue 36 trillion yen worth of new bonds to plug the budget hole. When bonds issued to refinance debt coming due are counted in, the government needs to borrow 170 trillion yen in the year through March 2016.
 今年度予算では、財源不足を補うための36兆円余の新たな国債や、満期を迎えた分の借り換えなどで、総額170兆円の国債を発行する。

Can Japan really avoid a fiscal disaster if it is running up so much debt? Won’t the prices of government bonds collapse in the market where government debt securities are traded?
 こんなに借金を重ねて大丈夫なのか。発行後に国債が売買される市場で国債価格が急落(金利が急上昇)しないのか。

Huge potential risks in the market
 ■市場に潜む危うさ

Most government bonds are financed by domestic funds, ultimately by the savings of the people. Many experts say there is no need to worry about a full-blown debt crisis in Japan because the government is not dependent on borrowing from fickle foreign investors who rush to the exit at the first hint of trouble.
 国債の大半は、国内の資金、もとをたどれば国民の貯蓄でまかなわれている。逃げ足の速い海外マネーに頼っているわけではないから、大丈夫。こう説明されることが多い。

This common fiscal narrative is correct from the viewpoint of the flow of money. But we should not overlook one worrisome factor behind the money flow structure.
 おカネの流れを見れば、その通りだ。ただ、この流れに潜む構図を見落としてはならない。

That’s the Bank of Japan’s aggressive monetary easing, which has been described as “different dimension” expansion of money supply.
 「異次元」とも称される、日本銀行による大胆な金融緩和策である。

As the centerpiece of its credit easing program, the central bank is buying tremendous amounts of government bonds. Since it adopted additional monetary easing measures last autumn, the BOJ has been buying up to 90 percent of the bonds the government issues in the market.
 この政策の柱として、日銀は大量に国債を買っている。昨年秋の緩和策第2弾を経て、そのペースは、政府が市場で発行する分の最大9割に及ぶ。

The BOJ is legally banned from underwriting government bonds, or buying bonds directly from the government.
 日銀が政府から国債を直接買う「引き受け」は、法律で禁じられている。

This rule was established because the Japanese central bank once caused a virulent bout of inflation by helping the wartime government raise funds to finance the war.
かつて政府の戦費調達などに日銀が手を貸し、激しいインフレを招いた反省からだ。

Currently, the BOJ buys government bonds via private-sector financial institutions, just short of underwriting of government bonds.
現状は金融機関を経て購入しているとはいえ、引き受けも同然と言える。

Anything could happen in a financial market. Nobody can guarantee that Japanese government bonds will never crash.
 何が起きるか分からないのが、市場だ。「日本の国債だけは価格が暴落しない」というわけにはいかない。

If the bond market is roiled by a massive selloff by speculators, corporate borrowing costs as well as interest rates on housing loans will soar. When that happens, the government’s tax revenue will fall due to the consequent weakening of the economy while the government’s debt servicing costs will surge. That will be a fiscal nightmare not unlike what Greece is now facing.
投機筋などによる売り浴びせをきっかけに混乱が広がれば、企業の借り入れや住宅ローンの金利が急上昇し、景気の悪化に伴って税収が減る一方、国債の利払いは増える。ギリシャの惨状は遠い外国の話ではなくなる。

In order to prevent this kind of fiscal disaster, the government needs to keep demonstrating its solid commitment to paying back debt and thereby avoid arousing doubts about its creditworthiness.
 そんな事態を避けるには、政府が「借金を返していく」という姿勢を示し続け、「すき」を見せないことだ。

Currently, the BOJ is nipping market disruptions in the bud with its massive bond purchases. But the potential risk is underscored by the fact that none other than BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has been preaching the importance of fiscal rehabilitation to the government.
今は日銀が国債の大量購入で波乱の芽を封じ込めている格好だが、日銀の黒田総裁自身が政府に財政再建の大切さを説いていることがそれを物語る。

Can’t bank on economic growth
 ■成長頼みは禁じ手

The government’s plan to regain fiscal health, which calls for a primary budget surplus in fiscal 2020, will be an acid test of the government’s will to pay off debt.
 20年度の基礎的財政収支の黒字化を目指す政府の財政再建策は、借金を返していく意思を問う試金石だ。

But the government’s plan is based on the assumption that its tax revenue will keep growing in line with nominal economic growth at annual rates of over 3 percent, a target that is hard to achieve.
 ところが、である。
 毎年名目で3%台という、実現が難しい成長を前提として、税収も伸びていくと見込む。

While calling on the government to go ahead with the postponed additional increase in the consumption tax rate to 10 percent, the prescription for curing the nation’s fiscal woes doesn’t propose any further tax hike.
増税については、1回延期した消費税率の10%への引き上げこそ織り込むものの、それ以上は封印。

The plan calls for policy efforts to curb budget growth and cut certain expenditures. But it offers no specific measures or a road map to rein in government spending.
歳出の抑制・削減策も、メニューこそ並べたが、具体案や実行への道筋は先送りした。

The government should seek to increase its tax receipts by stoking economic growth. But banking on revenue growth due to economic expansion is a hope-for-the-best approach to restoring fiscal health that should not be adopted.
 経済成長に伴う税収増を目指すのは当然としても、それに頼ることは「期待」頼みの財政再建であり、禁じ手だ。

A reliable way to cure the budget ills is resorting to a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. Both will inevitably be painful.
確実な手段は、歳出の削減と増税の二つ。ともに痛みを伴う。

First of all, the government needs to hammer out a realistic and effective plan to restrain budget growth and reduce its outlays. All policy areas need to be reviewed for budget cuts. But the focus should be on social security spending, which accounts for one-third of the general-account budget.
 まずは歳出の抑制・削減だ。あらゆる分野にメスを入れる必要があるが、焦点は国の一般会計の3分の1を占める社会保障分野だ。

If nothing is done, social security spending will continue growing automatically by nearly 1 trillion yen every year due to the aging of the population.
高齢化に伴い、放っておけば毎年1兆円近いペースで増え続ける。

Japan’s social security system, whose main components include the public health-care, nursing-care and pension programs, is structured along the lines of generations. Basically, the working population supports retired seniors.
 医療や介護、年金など、社会保障は「世代」を軸に制度が作られ、現役世代が高齢者を支えるのが基本的な仕組みだ。

Given that disparities in assets and income are growing within the same generations, however, it is vital to restructure the system toward distribution of the burden according to wealth.
しかし、同じ世代の中で資産や所得の格差が開いていることを考えれば「持てる人から持たざる人へ」という軸を加え、制度を改めていくことが不可欠だ。

Considering the seriousness of the fiscal squeeze, curbing budget growth and trimming expenditures here and there alone will be far from enough. The government should also consider a tax increase.
 財政難の深刻さを考えれば、歳出の抑制・削減だけでは間に合わず、増税も視野に入れるべきだ。

The pillar of any plan to increase taxes should be a consumption tax hike.
 柱になるのは消費税の増税である。

The most appropriate source of revenue to finance social security spending, which grows regardless of economic conditions, is the consumption tax. That’s because consumption tax receipts are less susceptible to economic conditions, and the burden is shared broadly by the entire public.
景気にかかわらず増えていく社会保障をまかなうには、税収が景気に左右されにくく、国民全体で「薄く広く」負担する消費税が適している。

The plan for integrated tax and social security reform worked out by the government three years ago is based on these ideas.
3年前に政府が決めた「社会保障と税の一体改革」は、そうした考え方を根本にすえる。

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ruled out raising the consumption tax rate above 10 percent. But a 10-percent consumption tax will be grossly insufficient to rebuild Japan’s debt-laden public finances.
 安倍政権は10%を超える増税を否定するが、それではとても足りない。

That’s obvious from the fact that many European countries impose a value-added tax (equivalent to Japan’s consumption tax) of around 20 percent on purchases of goods and services.
欧州の多くの国が付加価値税(日本の消費税に相当)の税率を20%前後としていることからも明らかだ。

As part of an effective tax overhaul, the income and inheritance taxes, which are levied on people’s income and assets, should also be reviewed for making the well-to-do shoulder their fair share of the burden.
 所得や資産に課税する所得税や相続税も、豊かな層に応分の負担をしてもらう方向で見直す。そんな税制を目指したい。

Inevitable pains
 ■避けられない痛み

All these reforms would be painful for taxpayers. But they are inevitable steps to ensure the long-term sustainability of social security and stop shifting the burden to future generations.
 いずれも痛みを伴う改革だ。しかし、社会保障を持続可能にし、将来世代へのつけ回しをやめるには、避けて通れない。

If the government shies away from fiscal reform and allows the situation to continue deteriorating, it could eventually face a fiscal collapse.
 財政の再建から逃げ、放置すれば、いずれ破綻(はたん)しかねない。

Such a situation would cause the biggest damage to people’s livelihoods.
いったんそうなれば、国民の生活がもっと大きな痛みを強いられる。

Japanese are now facing a crucial choice. Do they accept a radical reform of the system and an increase in their burden to be implemented through revisions to related laws by their elected representatives? Or do they opt to allow market pressure from rising interest rates to force them into necessary reforms?
 選挙で選んだ代表を通じ、法律を改正して制度の再設計や負担増を受け入れるのか。金利急騰といった市場の圧力に追いたてられて取り組むのか。

We should choose burden sharing through the democratic process.
 民主主義の手続きに基づく負担の分かち合いを選びたい。

Your click on your favorite item is highly appreciated.
気に入ったアイテムがございましたら、クリックをお願いいたします。
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