英字新聞 (読売、毎日、朝日、英字新聞の社説を学習研究 )

2014-04-23

外国人労働者 活用策を幅広く議論する時だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 6:45 pm, April 21, 2014
In-depth discussions needed over hiring of more foreign workers
外国人労働者 活用策を幅広く議論する時だ

With the shrinking of this country’s workforce as a result of the rapid graying of society and the chronically low birthrate, Japan now faces the major challenge of meeting the nation’s manpower needs to ensure its society remains vigorous.
 少子高齢化で、働く世代の人口は減り続けている。社会の活力を維持するため、労働力の確保は大きな課題である。

Under the circumstances, the government has begun studying the effective use of foreign workers in such sectors as construction and nursing care services. The first issue to be taken up is significantly increasing the number of foreign workers in the construction industry.
 政府は建設、介護などの分野で外国人労働者の活用策の検討を始めた。
第1弾は、建設業での外国人の受け入れ拡充だ。

With the sharp rise in demand for construction related to facilities for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, the industry is expected to face acute manpower shortages.
 建設業界は、2020年東京五輪・パラリンピックに向けて施設の建築需要が急増し、大幅な人手不足が予想される。

Regarding the plan for accepting technical trainees from developing countries—the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program—the government plans to extend the period of stay for trainees in this country to up to six years, from the current three years, if they work in the construction industry. The planned extension will be temporary, effective from fiscal 2015 until the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. The step appears to be a last-ditch, stopgap measure to cope with the extreme shortage of construction workers.
 政府は開発途上国から受け入れる外国人技能実習制度について、在留できる期間を3年から最長6年に延長する方針を決めた。15年度から五輪開催までの時限措置とする。労働力不足の急場をしのぐ苦肉の策と言えよう。

In regard to the government-backed foreign trainee program, a slew of instances involving violations of the Labor Standards Law have been reported, including nonpayment of wages. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry must bolster surveillance procedures to crack down on wrongful labor practices.
 技能実習制度を巡っては、賃金不払いなど労働基準法違反の事例が相次いでいる問題がある。厚生労働省は、不正の監視を強化しなければならない。

Labor shortages are also serious in the nursing care service sector. Due to the graying of society, the number of nursing care workers across the country should be increased by 1 million by 2025, according to a government estimate.
 介護分野の人手不足も深刻だ。急速な高齢化に伴い、政府推計では、25年までに介護職員を100万人増やす必要があるという。

However, the foreign nursing care workers accepted by this country have been strictly limited to people from such countries as Indonesia who come to Japan with the aim of acquiring qualifications as certified welfare workers under economic partnership agreements between Japan and these countries. The number of people who passed certification examinations totaled about 240 since the start of the program in fiscal 2008, far short of making up for the labor shortage.
 経済連携協定(EPA)に基づき、外国人の介護労働は、インドネシアなどから介護福祉士の資格取得を目指して来日する場合に限られている。これまでの試験合格者は約240人に過ぎず、人手不足の解消にはほど遠い。

Boost working conditions

Without opening the door wider for foreigners with vocational skills, the future rise in demand for labor can never be met. The government should study the feasibility of adopting a new vocational certification examination system.
 一定の技能を持つ外国人に門戸を広げなければ、今後の需要はまかなえない。新たな技能検定試験なども検討してもらいたい。

It is also essential for the government to help foreigners who wish to work here as nursing care workers to improve their Japanese-language capabilities, as communication in Japanese is indispensable in the field.
 介護に不可欠なコミュニケーション能力を高めるため、政府は介護職員を志す外国人への日本語学習支援にも力を入れるべきだ。

One major factor behind the labor shortages in the construction and nursing care sectors may be because young Japanese who find employment in these businesses tend to quit their jobs very soon. This is mainly because wages in these sectors are lower than in other industries, making young workers worried about making long-term plans for the future.
 建設や介護分野の人手不足の背景には、就職した若者が定着しない問題も指摘できる。賃金が他の産業に比べて低く、将来の生活設計を描きづらい事情がある。

As long as companies remain dependent on cheap labor from overseas, wage levels of these firms are bound to remain static, and as a result they will continue to be unable to secure sufficient workers. It is vitally important for them to improve working conditions for Japanese workers, such as by introducing a regular wage raise system and a framework conducive to enhancing their vocational careers.
 安上がりな外国人労働者に頼ろうとする限り、賃金水準は向上せず、人手も確保できない。昇給制度など待遇改善やキャリア形成の仕組みを整えることが大切だ。

The government has hammered out a policy of encouraging women and the elderly to find employment. In sectors where there is still a labor shortage despite this policy, the government must come up with steps to make better use of labor from abroad.
 政府は女性や高齢者の就労促進を打ち出している。それでも不足する分野の労働力として外国人を活用する方策を考えるべきだ。

If foreign workers can be employed to do housework, the ratio of women joining the nation’s workforce will increase.
 家事支援に外国人を受け入れれば、女性の就業率をアップさせる効果も期待できよう。

There are now about 700,000 foreign workers in the country. Considering the possibility of cultural friction between foreign workers and Japanese and the impact on the nation’s public security, foreign workers should not be brought into the country in a haphazard manner.
 現在、外国人労働者は約70万人に上るが、文化的な摩擦や治安への影響を考えると、無秩序に増やすことはできまい。

How should foreign workers be brought into this country and how should they be utilized? The time is ripe for the government and private sector to discuss these matters extensively.
 外国人労働者をどう受け入れ、どう活用するか。官民で幅広く議論する時期に来ている。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 21, 2014)

2014-04-22

(社説)日中関係 この機運を生かしたい

April 21, 2014
EDITORIAL: Don’t miss the window of opportunity opening for Japan-China thaw
(社説)日中関係 この機運を生かしたい

There have been some tentative signs of a thaw in the frosty relationship between Japan and China.
 凍りついていた日中関係に、やっと改善に向けた兆しが出てきた。
Japan and China are at loggerheads over a slew of thorny issues both in the past and at present. That’s exactly why it is so important for the two countries to repair their ties so that they can have a normal diplomatic dialogue.
両国間には過去と現在にまたがる多くの難問が横たわるが、だからこそ、ふつうに対話できる関係を作り直したい。

Some notable exchanges have taken place recently between the two countries.
 このところ注目すべき交流が続いている。

It has been revealed that Hu Deping, a Chinese pro-Japan advocate with close ties to President Xi Jinping, secretly met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo earlier this month.
 習近平(シーチンピン)国家主席と近い関係にある胡徳平氏が来日し、今月上旬、安倍首相と面会していたことが明らかになった。

Yohei Kono, the former Lower House speaker, met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on April 15 in Beijing. During the meeting, Wang criticized Abe but nevertheless said, “We hope the Japanese business community will make efforts to overcome the difficulties (in the bilateral relationship) and contribute to improving the relationship.”
 元衆院議長の河野洋平氏が北京で会談した汪洋(ワンヤン)副首相は、安倍首相を批判する一方、「日本の経済界が困難克服のため努力し、関係改善に貢献することを望んでいる」と発言した。

In addition, Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe will visit Beijing from April 24 to 26. It is the first time in as many as 18 years that the chief of the Tokyo metropolitan government has been formally invited to visit Beijing, which has a friendship city agreement with the Japanese capital. China’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement welcoming Masuzoe’s visit.
 今月24日からは舛添要一・東京都知事が友好都市関係にある北京を訪れる。北京市からの招待は実に18年ぶりだ。中国外務省も歓迎の談話を出した。

The two countries, which are such close neighbors, should not remain estranged as they are now. If both sides are seeking to figure out a way to mend ties, that’s good news.
 隣国同士、このまま疎遠でいいはずがない。なんとか改善の道はないか。そんな意思が双方に働いているとすれば、好ましい進展だ。

Some efforts were also made to improve the situation last year.
 昨年も事態打開への努力はあった。

Even after China made a provocative move to suddenly establish an air defense identification zone in areas over the East China Sea including the disputed Senkaku Islands, diplomats from Tokyo and Beijing continued their exchanges to turn around bilateral ties.
11月に中国国防省が東シナ海域で突然、防空識別圏を敷く挑発行動に出た後も、外交当局者間の往来は続いた。

But Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine the following month caused bilateral exchanges to come to a halt.
だが、安倍首相による年末の靖国神社参拝で交流は途絶えた。

The Xi administration, which has been ratcheting up criticism of Japan over history-related issues, is unwilling to make an overt move to seek reconciliation with Tokyo unless Abe makes a concession.
 歴史問題で非難を強めてきた習政権は、安倍首相が譲歩しない限り、公然と和解に動くような体裁はとりたくない。

Beijing has probably decided to limit its efforts to patch up the ties to economic and private-sector exchanges while taking a wait-and-see approach toward Abe.
まずは経済と民間の交流に力を入れ、安倍氏の出方は慎重に見極めよう、ということなのだろう。

But issues concerning views about history are not the only obstacles to improvement of the bilateral relations.
 ただ、日中の間にある障害は歴史認識だけではない。

For many years, China has been dangerously expanding its military capacity in its efforts to enhance its influence in surrounding areas. China’s aggressive military buildup and increasingly assertive behavior have created tension in neighboring areas including Japan.
むしろ中国が危うい軍拡を長年続け、周辺域での影響力拡大を図っていることが、日本を含む近隣に緊張をもたらしている。

Dialogue between the defense officials of both countries is necessary for preventing unnecessary clashes.
 無用な衝突を防ぐためにも、防衛当局間の対話が必要だ。

The establishment of a system to ensure safety in actions in the sky and the sea taken by the two countries in states of alert would help improve the security environment in the region.
空や海での警戒行動をめぐる安全確保のメカニズムをつくれば、地域の安保環境に役立つ。

On the economic front, Japan and China have a strong complementary relationship. China still needs Japanese technologies, while Japan needs China’s market and labor.
 一方、経済面では日中は相互補完関係が強い。今も中国は日本の技術を求め、日本は中国の市場と労働力を必要とする。

Tokyo and Beijing should start talks to enhance their bilateral economic relations including efforts to accelerate the negotiations for a three-way free trade agreement among Japan, China and South Korea.
 日中韓で構想されている自由貿易協定交渉の加速を含め、経済関係強化をめざした議論を政府間で進めるべきだ。

Concerns about China’s rapidly growing military power are widely shared by Pacific Rim countries.
 軍事大国化する中国への懸念は、今や環太平洋諸国が共有している。

But many countries in the region, including the United States, have been maintaining relations with China based on active bilateral talks on various issues instead of cutting off dialogue between the leaders.
それでも、米国はじめ各国は首脳同士の対話を絶やすような選択はせず、むしろ活発に主張をぶつけ合う関係を維持している。

Japan and China once agreed to promote mutually beneficial strategic relations between them. That means both sides should try to find a way to promote coexistence and co-prosperity even if there are serious disputes and disagreements.
 対立を抱えていても、共存共栄を図る。それがかつて日中で合意した「戦略的互恵関係」の意味するところではないか。

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 20

2014-04-21

高齢人口25% 独り暮らし対策は待ったなし

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:13 pm, April 18, 2014
Measures urgently needed to cope with, reduce number of elderly living alone
高齢人口25% 独り暮らし対策は待ったなし

As the people born during the postwar baby boom have begun entering the later stages of their lives, one out of every four people in Japan is now aged 65 or older.
 団塊の世代が高齢期を迎え、日本の総人口の4人に1人が65歳以上になった。

Working out measures to address the challenges posed by the nation’s rapid aging—a situation without parallel in the rest of the world—is an unmistakably urgent matter.
世界に類を見ないスピードで進む高齢化への対策が急務である。

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry released population estimates as of Oct. 1, 2013, in which people aged 65 and over comprised more than 25 percent of the population for the first time. Nearly 31.9 million had celebrated their 65th birthday.
 総務省が2013年10月1日時点の人口推計を公表した。65歳以上の人口が初めて全体の25%を超え、3190万人に達した。

Japan’s population has contracted for a third straight year, and the working-age population—people aged from 15 to 64—has fallen below 80 million for the first time in 32 years.
 総人口は3年連続で減少し、15〜64歳の生産年齢人口は32年ぶりに8000万人を下回った。

The aging of society brings with it ballooning social security costs, including expenditures for medical and nursing care. As a result, the burden of maintaining the social security system has grown even heavier on a working generation that is shrinking in an alarming fashion.
 高齢化に伴い、医療や介護などの社会保障費は膨張している。減少する「働く世代」には、社会保障制度を維持するための負担が重くのしかかる。

Japan’s social security system, as it exists today, is hardly sustainable and threatens to undermine Japan’s social and economic vigor. The situation is grave indeed.
 このままでは、制度を持続できず、経済・社会の活力も損なわれる。深刻な事態である。

In 2025, as the baby-boom generation passes the age of 75, the number of people needing medical and nursing care will undoubtedly rise even higher.
 団塊の世代が75歳以上となる25年には、医療や介護を必要とする人がさらに増えるだろう。

But as the number of older people continues to swell, there are limits to the number of elderly that can be cared for at facilities for the aged and hospitals. Expenditures covered by the nursing care and health insurance systems are likely to increase, leading to a further rise in benefit payments.
 増加する高齢者を施設や病院で受け入れることには限界がある。介護・医療保険から支払われる費用が高くなりがちで、給付費の一層の膨張を招く。

The situation calls for arrangements for integrated nursing care and medical services to be provided in the home, allowing the elderly to live at home for as long as reasonably practical. The government must also back construction of new housing to accommodate older people, including those with lower incomes.
 可能な限り自宅で暮らせるよう、訪問介護や在宅診療を一体的に提供する体制作りが必要だ。低所得でも入居できる高齢者向け住宅の整備も求められよう。

Build mutual aid framework

It is important that Japan also define a strategy for addressing the increasing numbers of older people living alone. According to projections by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the number of such elderly people, which stood at 4.98 million in 2010, will rise to 7.62 million in 2035, an increase of about 50 percent.
 独り暮らしの高齢者対策も待ったなしだ。国立社会保障・人口問題研究所の推計では、10年の498万人が35年には1・5倍の762万人にまで増える。

Older people who receive no help from family are likely to face great difficulty living on their own if and when they encounter even minor physical or mental issues. Symptoms of dementia and other disorders also tend to be overlooked. Building neighborhood frameworks of mutual support to take the place of absent families is indispensable in coping with this situation.
 家族の手助けがない高齢者は、心身が少し不調でも自立生活が困難になる。認知症などの症状も見過ごされやすい。家族に代わり、地域で支え合う互助の仕組みを育てることが欠かせない。

Many noteworthy programs to keep an eye on elderly residents and provide them with places to interact with other people have been launched by nonprofit organizations and volunteers. We should encourage the further spread of such works.
 各地でNPOやボランティアによる見守り活動や、交流サロンといった高齢者の居場所作りが始まっている。こうした取り組みを広げていきたい。

The role played by local governments is crucial as well. One program by the government of Minato Ward, Tokyo, makes door-to-door visits to the homes of single elderly residents to offer appropriate administrative services, in an effort to better understand their living conditions. This program could be a useful model for other local governments.
 自治体の役割も重要だ。戸別訪問で独り暮らし高齢者の生活状況を把握し、適切なサービスにつなぐ東京都港区の取り組みなどは、他の自治体の参考となる。

We hope to see older people who are in good health and spirits take on volunteer and other activities for the benefit of their communities. Such contributions will add meaning to their lives, and at the same time reduce the likelihood that they will need nursing care services, thereby helping rein in social welfare expenditures for the nation as a whole.
 元気な高齢者にはボランティアなどとして地域で活躍してもらいたい。それが自身の生きがいや介護予防になり、社会保障費の抑制につながるだろう。

There is a close link between the number of older people living alone and the increasing number of unmarried people. Many people within the growing ranks of low-wage nonregular employees are giving up on getting married.
 独り暮らし高齢者の増加は、未婚率の上昇と密接な関係にある。低賃金の非正規労働者の増加で、結婚をあきらめる人が多い。

This is why employment patterns are an important part of preventing further growth in the number of older people living alone—working conditions for nonregular workers should be improved and companies must be urged to expedite promotion of such workers to regular-employee status.
 将来の独り暮らし高齢者を増やさないためにも、非正規労働者の処遇改善や正社員への転換を促進しなければならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 18, 2014)

2014-04-19

電力経営悪化 エネルギー政策全体の課題だ

福島原発事故処理が完全に終わるという目処はいまだにたっていません。
いったいこれから先どれだけのお金がかかるのでしょうか。
最終的には全部国民が負担させられるのではないでしょうか。
原発で得られる電力が安価であるというのは神話となっていますが、読売はこの神話をいまだに信じています。
新聞で世論に訴えるのは自由ですが、物事の本質を突き詰めて論議して欲しいものです。
(スラチャイ)

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:05 pm, April 17, 2014
Utilities’ deteriorating financial state a key issue for entire energy policy
電力経営悪化 エネルギー政策全体の課題だ

The financial circumstances of electricity utilities continue to deteriorate, chiefly due to delays in restarting their nuclear power plants.
 原子力発電所の再稼働の遅れなどで、電力会社の経営悪化に歯止めがかからない。

There are also growing concerns over the adverse impact of electricity rate hikes on general households and the industrial sector.
 電気料金の値上げによる家計や産業界への悪影響が、ますます懸念されよう。

Chubu Electric Power Co. is planning an average increase of 3.8 percent from May. The company had initially sought a 5 percent hike but lowered its request after being asked by the government to take measures such as cutting down fuel costs.
 中部電力の家庭向け電気料金が5月から、平均3・8%値上げされることになった。約5%の申請に対し、政府は燃料費の節約などを求め、値上げ幅を圧縮した。

Chubu Electric Power is the seventh utility firm to make a “drastic” hike in its electricity rates, which requires government approval. Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. have done the same.
 原発事故後、国の認可を要する「本格値上げ」は、東京電力や関西電力などに続いて7社目だ。

Following the outbreak of the crisis at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, all nuclear power plants have been suspended, causing utility companies’ fuel costs to soar after they switched to thermal power plants. As a result, the utilities have been under strain financially.
 東電福島第一原発の事故を受けた全原発の停止によって、火力発電用の燃料費が増大したことが、各社の財務を圧迫している。

Of the nation’s 10 utilities, six companies, including Chubu Electric, are expected to post a recurring loss for the business year ending in March. Five out of the six electricity providers are projected to post a recurring loss for a third straight year, a financial situation that may prompt banks to cut off their loans.
 電力10社のうち中部電を含む6社は、今年3月期決算で経常利益が赤字になる見通しだ。このうち5社は、銀行に融資を打ち切られる可能性のある「3期連続赤字」が見込まれる。

It was necessary to a certain extent for the government to have approved the power companies’ rate hike requests while calling on them to make thorough efforts to streamline themselves.
 政府が合理化の徹底を求めた上で、各社に値上げを認めたのも、やむを得ない面はあろう。

But it is quite serious that the utility companies are about to enter a second round of rate increases.
 ただし、値上げが「2巡目」に入りつつあるのは深刻である。

Government reluctant

Hokkaido Electric Power Co., which implemented a 7 percent to 8 percent increase in the utility rate last September, announced its plan in February to implement yet another hike. The company said it has been unable to restart its nuclear power plant as it had hoped, leaving it unable to improve its business performance.
 昨年9月に7%台の値上げを実施した北海道電力は今年2月、再値上げの検討を表明した。想定通りに原発を再稼働できず、業績改善が望めないためという。

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi has in effect put a hold on Hokkaido Electric’s rate hike, saying, “It’s important [for the company] to make efforts to avoid a rate hike.”
 茂木経済産業相は「値上げ回避の努力が重要だ」などと述べ、事実上待ったをかけている。

The government’s reluctance to approve the rate hikes while delaying the restart of nuclear power plants only serves to further aggravate power companies’ financial situation.
再稼働が遅れている中で値上げに難色を示すだけでは、電力会社の経営は苦しくなるばかりである。

To avoid becoming insolvent with cumulative deficit, Hokkaido Electric has reportedly been studying the possibility of receiving financial support from the Development Bank of Japan. We recognize the value of the utility’s efforts to avoid a rate hike, but they are merely last-ditch measures.
 累積赤字による債務超過を防ぐため、北海道電は日本政策投資銀行から資本支援を受ける方向で検討しているという。値上げを避ける努力は評価できるが、あくまで「窮余の一策」と言える。

The financial state of other utility companies, besides Hokkaido Electric, is also deteriorating. Shortage of funds will leave utility companies unable to make necessary repairs of their power transmission lines and transformer stations, or to inject sufficient money into the renewal of these facilities, adversely affecting power supply. Such a situation must be avoided at all costs.
 北海道電以外の電力各社も財務内容が悪化している。資金不足で送電線や変電所などの補修や更新投資が十分に行えず、電力供給に支障が出る事態は、何としても避けねばならない。

With these factors in mind, it is essential for power companies to be allowed to restart nuclear power plants that have been confirmed to be safe, so their costs for generating electricity can be reduced.
 やはり、安全性の確認できた原発を再稼働し、発電コストを低下させることが欠かせまい。

The most important points are for the Nuclear Regulation Authority to accelerate its safety inspections of nuclear power plants and for the government to extend solid support to the power plants that pass those inspections, so restarting operations can proceed smoothly.
 重要なのは、原子力規制委員会が原発の安全審査を加速させるとともに、審査をパスした原発の再稼働が円滑に進むよう、政府がしっかり後押しすることだ。

It is also necessary for the central government to make an all-out effort to explain the situation, to win the support of local governments that host nuclear power plants.
立地自治体の理解を得るため、説明に全力を挙げる必要がある。

Japan’s economic reconstruction depends on a stable supply of cheap electricity. The time has come for both the public and private sectors to seriously reflect on power companies’ deteriorating financial circumstances, and the challenges posed for the overall energy policy of this country.
 安価な電力の安定供給は、日本経済再生に不可欠だ。電力会社の経営悪化を、エネルギー政策全体の課題と捉え、官民が対応策を真剣に考える時に来ている。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 17, 2014)

2014-04-18

(社説)安倍政権の絆 ガラパゴス化が心配だ

April 16, 2014
EDITORIAL: Abe administration's disturbing signs of 'Galapagos' syndrome
(社説)安倍政権の絆 ガラパゴス化が心配だ

In his recent address to newly hired government employees, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exhorted them to broaden their horizons, saying, “In this age of globalization, Galapagos officials who only know about Japan are worthless.”
 「グローバルな時代にあって、『日本のことしか知らない』ガラパゴス人間では、話になりません」。春4月。安倍首相は新人官僚にこう訓示した。

That’s well said. But coming from the mouth of this leader, the words sound somewhat hollow. A number of irresponsible remarks recently made by some administration officials and close Abe aides have triggered concerns about the government’s field of vision. We cannot help but wonder if the vision is limited to an area far narrower than Japan: to things that are only convenient to the administration.
 けだし名言、ただし説得力を欠く。最近の安倍政権とその周辺では、日本どころか自分に都合のいいことしか見ていないのではないかと驚かされる、無責任な言動が続いているからだ。

For instance, Hakubun Shimomura, the minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, said in a Diet session on March 26 that the so-called Murayama statement was not officially endorsed by a Cabinet decision. The statement was released in 1995 by Tomiichi Murayama, the prime minister at the time, expressing remorse and apologizing for Japan's wartime actions. Shimomura later corrected his comment, saying he had committed “a mistake of fact.”
 下村文部科学相は、「村山談話は閣議決定されていない」という国会答弁を、「事実誤認だった」と訂正した。

It is startling that the education minister, a man known as a passionate advocate of teaching “correct history,” was so wrong about such a basic fact. The statement was indeed officially approved by a Cabinet decision.
「正しい歴史教育」に熱心な文科相が、これほど基本的な事実を誤認していたことにただ、驚く。

When he was asked about the government’s definition of the right to collective self-defense during a Diet session on March 20, Ichiro Komatsu, director-general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, adamantly refused to respond, saying he didn’t want to give a wrong answer. “It would be very bad if I answer the question carelessly and am then criticized for correcting my statement later,” he said.
 内閣法制局長官は、国会で集団的自衛権の定義について質問され、「うかつに答弁し、『後で訂正するのはけしからん』となるのは非常に良くない」と、頑として答弁を拒んだ。

Seiichi Eto, a special adviser to Abe, indignantly reacted to a U.S. statement expressing disappointment at Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine last December with a post on a video-sharing site in which he said, “We are disappointed at the United States for saying it was disappointed.”
 首相の靖国神社参拝に対し「米国が『失望』と言ったことに我々の方が失望だ」とした首相補佐官。

Yoshitaka Sakurada, a senior vice minister at the education ministry, attended a rally where people were calling for a revision of the 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologizing to the women who were forced to provide sex to wartime Japanese troops. At the meeting, Sakurada supported the call for revising the statement, saying: “I am a person who abhors the fabrication of facts. My feelings and thoughts are the same as yours.”
「河野官房長官談話の見直しを求める国民大集会」に出席し「私は事実を捏造(ねつぞう)することが大嫌いな人間だ。皆さんと心は同じ、考え方も同じ」と賛意を示した文科副大臣。

Similar remarks were also made by a top executive of Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK).
 似た趣旨の発言は、NHK首脳からも漏れこぼれている。

Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga have downplayed the implications of the various utterances by saying they were only “personal opinions.” But that doesn’t dilute the fallout from these controversial remarks.
 首相や菅官房長官はしばしば「個人的見解」などと片づけているが、当然、それで済むはずがない。

The various comments by people close to Abe have alarmed the international community and fueled suspicions that these “personal opinions” actually reflect the prime minister’s true views and feelings. The situation is clearly damaging Japan’s national interests, the importance of which Abe likes to stress.
「個人的見解」の方がむしろ首相の本音ではないかという疑念や警戒感が世界に広まり、首相が大事にしている「国益」が確実に損なわれている。

Abe himself is responsible for the situation since his visit to war-related Yasukuni Shrine triggered the controversial comments expressing “personal opinions.” Abe went “in a private capacity,” even though many people around him urged him not to go.
 そもそも「個人的見解」がだだ漏れるようになったきっかけは昨年12月、首相が周囲の反対を押し切り、それこそ「私人の立場」で靖国神社を参拝したことだ。

Abe’s renewed passion for pursuing a political agenda for the nation’s “departure from the postwar regime” has inspired his aides to join his crusade. As a result, it seems that they have lost their ability to make sensible judgments, causing the entire administration to lose its balance.
再び火が付いた「戦後レジームからの脱却」への首相の情熱に周囲が引き込まれ、責任感や判断力が低下し、政権全体のバランスが崩れ始めているのではないだろうか。

What is especially disturbing is that the individuals who have made these questionable remarks don’t seem to have an inkling of what made their remarks so controversial.
 深刻なのは、当人たちが、発言の何が問題視されているのかを根本的に理解していないことだ。

This is clear from a comment written by a secretary to Eto, a special adviser to Abe, in Eto’s blog. “Although Eto made the statement with pride for himself and his country, he has retracted it to avoid causing trouble to the Abe administration, which is pursuing such important causes as making an amendment to the Constitution.”
「自身と自国のプライドを持って発言したことだが、これから憲法改正等大義を目指す安倍政権のご迷惑になってはならぬと撤回した」。補佐官のブログに秘書が書いている。

These officials have not offered any explanation about why and how their remarks were problematic. Nor have they taken responsibility for the controversies they provoked. Nor has the administration tried to hold them responsible for their questionable comments. This indulgent atmosphere appears to be breeding self-righteousness among administration officials and enhancing purely collusive relations among people around Abe.
 何がどう問題だったのか。説明せず。責任を取らず。取らせず。そのような生ぬるい空気の中で「自分は悪くない」がすくすくと育ちゆき、首相を取り巻く面々の絆だけがいびつな形で強まっているのではないか。

We are deeply concerned about growing signs of the Galapagos syndrome coming from the Abe administration.
 安倍政権のガラパゴス化。
 心配だ。

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 10