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zoom RSS 消費増税の再延期 首相はまたも逃げるのか

<<   作成日時 : 2016/06/01 12:43   >>

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--The Asahi Shimbun, May 31
EDITORIAL: Abe must stop ducking his responsibilities over tax hike
(社説)消費増税の再延期 首相はまたも逃げるのか

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told top government and ruling coalition officials that he has decided to postpone the scheduled consumption tax hike again.
The planned raise in the tax rate from 8 percent to 10 percent will be pushed back by two-and-a-half years from April 2017 to October 2019.
 来年4月の予定だった10%への消費増税を2年半先送りし、実施は19年10月とする。

This will be the second delay in the tax increase. It was originally slated for October 2015, but Abe put it off to April next year.
 安倍首相が、政府・与党幹部に増税延期の方針を伝えた。もともと15年10月と決まっていたのを17年4月に延ばしたのに続き、2度目の先送りである。

But why October 2019?
 なぜ19年10月なのか。

Here’s an explanation circulating within the ruling camp.
Abe’s term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will expire in autumn 2018, and he wants to avoid a tax hike during his tenure as prime minister. Moreover, unified local elections and an Upper House poll are scheduled for spring and summer, respectively, in 2019. The unpopular measure to increase the tax burden on the public could badly damage the ruling coalition’s performances in these elections. So the step would be best delayed until after the elections.
 首相の自民党総裁としての任期は18年秋まで。首相在任中は増税を避けたい。そして19年春〜夏に統一地方選と参院選がある。国民に負担増を求める政策は選挙で不利になりかねない。だから選挙後にしよう――。
 そんな見方が、与党内でもささやかれている。

PROMISED INTEGRATED REFORM
 ■「一体改革」はどこへ

The current generation of Japanese depends, to a considerable extent, on government borrowing to finance social security programs that are supporting them. That means shifting the burden to future generations.
 私たち今を生きる世代は、社会保障財源の相当部分を国債発行という将来世代へのつけ回しに頼っている。

This structural debt financing of social security spending has left state finances in tatters, with government debt now surpassing a staggering 1,000 trillion yen ($9.01 trillion).
その構造が、1千兆円を超えて国の借金が増え続ける財政難を招いている。

In 2012, the then ruling Democratic Party of Japan (now the Democratic Party), the LDP and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, reached an agreement on so-called integrated reform of tax and social security systems as a way to solve this structural fiscal problem.
だから、税収が景気に左右されにくい消費税を増税し、借金返済に充てる分も含めすべて社会保障に回す。これが自民、公明、民主(当時)3党による「税と社会保障の一体改革」だ。

The reform blueprint calls for raising the consumption tax and using all of the revenue from the levy, which is less vulnerable to changes in economic conditions, to fund social security outlays, including debt repayments.
The integrated reform was designed to ensure that the three parties would be solidly committed to implementing the tax increase, which would force the public to shoulder a heavier financial burden to support the safety net while insulating the measure from election battles and power struggles.
 国民に負担を求める増税を、選挙や政局から切り離しつつ、3党が責任をもって実施する。それが一体改革の意味だった。

Abe’s decision to postpone the step for a second time, apparently motivated by concerns about elections, deserves to be criticized as a petty political maneuver that tramples on the spirit of the integrated reform.
選挙に絡めて増税を2度も延期しようとする首相の判断は、一体改革の精神をないがしろにすると言われても仕方がない。

In his November 2014 news conference to announce his first decision to postpone the tax raise, Abe stressed his commitment to fiscal reform.
 首相は1度目の増税延期を表明した14年11月の記者会見で、次のように語っていた。

“I will never back down from my vow to carry out fiscal rehabilitation,” he said. “The Abe Cabinet will never waver in its determination to secure the international community’s confidence in Japan and pass a (sustainable) social security system to the next generation.”
 「財政再建の旗を降ろすことは決してない。国際社会で我が国への信頼を確保し、社会保障を次世代に引き渡していく安倍内閣の立場は一切揺らがない」

He also said, “I promise that there won’t be another delay (in the consumption tax hike).”
 「(増税を)再び延期することはないと断言する」

Has he forgotten these promises he made to the people?
 この国民との約束はどこへ行ったのか。

FAR FROM ‘LEHMAN SHOCK’
 ■「リーマン」とは異なる

As Abe has repeatedly said, any major economic upheaval like the ones that were triggered by the 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers or the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake would justify putting off the tax increase.
 首相が繰り返す通り、リーマン・ショック級や東日本大震災並みの経済混乱に見舞われた時は、増税の延期は当然だ。

Indeed, the Japanese economy is not in good shape. Japan’s real economic growth rates in recent quarters have been hovering between minus 2 percent and 2 percent.
 足元の景気は確かにさえない。四半期ごとの実質経済成長率は、年率換算でプラスマイナス1%台の一進一退が続く。

But that is not as bad as the 15-percent economic contraction that occurred immediately after the failure of Lehman Brothers or the shrinkage by more than 7 percent following the devastating quake and tsunami in March 2011.
一方、リーマン直後の成長率はマイナス15%に達した。大震災時の7%を超えるマイナス成長と比べても明らかに異なる。

As a plot to clear the way for delaying the tax increase again, Abe, at the recent Ise-Shima Group of Seven summit of major industrial nations, tried to promote the narrative that the world economy is now at risk of falling into a crisis that cannot be seen as an ordinary downward phase of the economic cycle.
 それでも消費増税を延期したい首相が、伊勢志摩サミットで持ち出したのが「世界経済が通常の景気循環を超えて危機に陥る大きなリスクに直面している」というストーリーだ。

Abe probably wants to convince people that economic concerns in other parts of the world, especially in some key emerging countries, argue against a tax hike now even though his economic program, or Abenomics, is working well.
 アベノミクスは順調だ、だが新興国を中心に海外経済が不安だから増税できない、そう言いたいのだろう。

Given objective economic data, however, it is not at all surprising that some of Japan’s G-7 colleagues, such as Germany and Britain, refused to support his argument.
これに対し、独英両国などから異論が出たのは、客観的な経済データを見れば当然のことだ。

Opposition parties are demanding Abe’s resignation, saying his decision to delay the tax hike again proves that Abenomics has failed.
 一方、野党は増税延期について「アベノミクスが失敗した証拠だ」と首相に退陣を求める。

Before debating whether Abenomics has been successful or not, however, we need to consider afresh whether these policies are an appropriate prescription for Japan’s economic problems.
だがアベノミクスの成否を論じる前に、それが日本経済への処方箋(せん)として誤っていないか、改めて考える必要がある。

One important indicator of a nation’s economic health is its potential growth rate. The government has admitted that Japan’s potential growth rate is less than 1 percent.
 一国の経済の実力を示す指標に「潜在成長率」がある。日本経済のそれはゼロパーセント台にすぎないと政府も認める。

What kind of policy efforts are needed to increase Japan’s growth potential?
 潜在成長率を高めるには、どんな施策に力を注ぐべきか。

First of all, key social security programs, such as child-care and nursing-care support, should be enhanced.
 まず保育や介護など社会保障分野だ。

It is vital to make it easier for people to receive the support they need in these areas through redistribution based on the tax and budget policy.
税制と予算による再分配を通じて、支えが必要な人が給付を受けられるようにする。

It is also crucial to improve the working conditions of child-care and nursing-care workers to expand the nation’s ability to provide these services. Expanding and strengthening the social safety net through increased burdens and benefits would help accelerate the flow of money within the economy and create new jobs.
保育士や介護職員の待遇を改善し、サービス提供力を高めていく。負担と給付を通じた充実が、おカネを循環させて雇用を生むことにつながる。

Also important is deregulation to promote investment in promising areas, such as those related to global warming, energy conservation and artificial intelligence.
 温暖化対策や省エネ、人工知能開発など、有望な分野への投資を促す規制改革も大切だ。

ABENOMICS NEEDS FIXING
 ■アベノミクス修正を

Since these policy measures are unlikely to quickly produce the expected results, it is necessary to prop up the economy with monetary easing and fiscal expansion. But the government needs to take steps to mitigate the negative side effects of this approach as a basic principle of economic management.
 これらの施策は短期間では成果が出にくいから、金融緩和や財政で下支えする。その際に副作用への目配りを怠らない。それが経済運営の王道だろう。

Under Abenomics, the Abe administration has been seeking to raise inflationary expectations among people and businesses through the Bank of Japan’s aggressive “different dimension” credit expansion, or the “first arrow” of Abenomics, as the main incentive for consumer spending and business investment.
 だがアベノミクスは「第1の矢」の異次元金融緩和で物価上昇への「期待」を高め、それをてこに消費や投資を促そうとしてきた。

As for the second arrow--government spending--the administration has stressed “flexible” fiscal policy management, as embodied by a series of large-scale supplementary budgets.
金融緩和を後押しする「第2の矢」である財政では、大型補正予算の編成など「機動的な運営」を強調する。

In the news conference at the end of the G-7 summit, Abe declared, “We will again rev up the engine of Abenomics as much as possible.”
 首相はサミットを締めくくる記者会見で「アベノミクスのエンジンをもう一度、最大限ふかしていく」と強調した。

The BOJ keeps purchasing enormous amounts of government bonds under its unprecedented monetary expansion program. This situation could undermine the government’s fiscal discipline.
 しかし金融緩和の手段として日本銀行が多額の国債を買い続ける現状は、政府の財政規律をゆるめる危うさがつきまとう。

Extra budgets focused on public works expenditures and measures to stimulate consumer spending may shore up the economy temporarily but would cause further deterioration of the nation’s fiscal health, making the people even more worried about their future.
補正予算も公共事業積み増しや消費喚起策が中心では、一時的に景気を支えても財政悪化を招き、将来への不安につながる。

What Abe should do now is not “rev up” his government’s monetary and fiscal expansion drives. Instead, he should confront the limits and negative effects of Abenomics and correct the course of his economic policies. Then, he should deliver on his promise to carry through the integrated tax and social security reform to allay people’s anxiety about their future.
 首相がいまなすべきは金融緩和や財政出動を再び「ふかす」ことではない。アベノミクスの限界と弊害を直視し、軌道修正すること。そして、一体改革という公約を守り、国民の将来不安を減らしていくことだ。

If the prime minister runs away from implementing a necessary policy measure that requires the people to accept pain before an election, he is effectively running away from his fundamental responsibility as the nation’s leader.
 選挙を前に、国民に痛みを求める政策から逃げることは、一国を率いる政治家としての責任から逃げることに等しい。

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