2008年09月28日

中山国交相辞任か?

中山国交相の失言に関する報道はめずらしく各社で足並みが揃っていない。
最初は27日の朝日社説、それから28日の日経社説と毎日英語版で記事をみかけた。
最初にこの朝日社説の日本語版を読むと、その下の毎日英語版の記事が理解しやすいと思います。(スラチャイ)

朝日社説:

中山国交相―首相の門出にこの放言 晴れの大臣就任で、つい口が滑らかになりすぎたのか。中山成彬国土交通相が、就任2日目の報道機関のインタビューで驚くべき発言を連発した。

 成田空港の整備の遅れにどう対応するかを問われ、中山氏はこう答えた。

 「ごね得というか戦後教育が悪かったと思うが、公のためにはある程度自分を犠牲にしてでもというのがなくて、自分さえよければという風潮のなかで空港拡張もできなかった」

 整備が遅れた理由に住民らの反対運動があるのはその通りだ。だが、その背景に、住民らに十分な説明をしないまま機動隊を使って強制的に土地収用を繰り返した政府の重い失政があったことを、いまは政府も認めている。

 そんな政界の常識さえ身につけていないことにあきれる。しかも中山氏は空港行政の最高責任者だ。

 大分県教委の汚職事件については、こう言い放った。「日教組の子供は成績悪くても先生になる。だから大分県の学力は低いんだよ。私がなぜ全国学力テストを提唱したかといえば、日教組の強いところは学力低いんじゃないかと思ったから。現にそうだよ」

 中山氏は文部科学相当時、全国学力調査を導入する旗を振った。その目的を「競い合う心を育てるため」などと説明してきたが、どうやらそれはごまかしだったようだ。

 それにしても、毎年ざっと60億円もの費用がかかる全国学力調査を日教組憎しで導入したというのだから、自民党政権というのは豪儀なものである。

 外国人旅行者をどう増やすかの質問に関連しては、こんな発言もあった。「日本はずいぶん内向きな、単一民族といいますか……」

 わずか3カ月前、アイヌ民族を日本の先住民族として認めるべきだという歴史的な国会決議が全会一致で採択された。国会の総意として、先住民族の名誉と尊厳を守っていこうと誓ったのだが、中山氏は反対だったのか。

 中山氏はこれらの発言を「誤解を招いた」と撤回した。だが、どれも閣僚としてという前に、国会議員としての資質を疑わせる発言である。

 中山氏は文科相時代にも「歴史教科書から従軍慰安婦や強制連行という言葉が減ってきたのは本当によかった」「そもそも従軍慰安婦という言葉はなかった」などの発言を連発した。

 そんな中山氏を閣僚に任命した麻生首相自身、数々の失言で物議をかもした過去を持つ。総裁選の際「いつも寸止めで踏みとどまってきた」と冗談交じりに語ったが、寸止めならいいということではあるまい。

 堂本暁子千葉県知事をはじめ、きのうの国交省は抗議ラッシュの様相だった。内閣支持率は48%。首相が国連で外交デビューを飾ったその日にこの体たらくでは、先が思いやられる。

毎日英語版:

(Mainichi Japan) September 28, 2008

Nakayama's foot-in-mouth antics already casting doubt on Aso's Cabinet
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Nariaki Nakayama remarked that some residents near Narita Airport refused to sell their land for the airport construction because they thought there would be more gain by holding out. He later retracted and apologized for his remarks, but it's not enough to settle the controversy he sparked.

His misconceptions and lack of proper understanding of the role of the ministry he supervises has raised questions as to whether he is qualified to serve as a Cabinet minister, and over the insight of Prime Minister Taro Aso, who appointed him.

Regarding Narita Airport, Nakayama remarked: "When I came home in 1978, I landed at the airport. Since then, there had been only one lane (runway) for many years, and it's a pity for Japan. Many held out, expecting more gain. I think it's one of the problems of post-war education. They lack public-mindedness. They have no desire to make a certain self-sacrifice for the benefit of the public, and think only of their own benefit, making it hard to expand the airport. It's a real shame."

Local residents opposing the Narita Airport construction project, which began in 1960s, were in bitter conflict with the national government from the start. Through negotiations with local residents at round-table talks and other places, the government admitted in 1995 that it was at fault for attempting to force the project through, and offered an apology.

In the apology, the government admitted its responsibility for the problem, and local residents have no reason to be criticized for holding out for more.

He failed to probe relations between the lack of public-mindedness and problems involving post-war education, and the dispute over the airport, and apparently made the remarks based on his groundless impressions -- and which could damage the mutual trust that local residents and the ministry have nurtured for many years through their efforts.

Nakayama then trained his sights on the Japan Teachers Union (JTU), and said: "The children of JTU members can become teachers even if their grades (in recruitment exams) are poor. Therefore, academic ability in Oita Prefecture is low," in an apparent reference to a bribery scandal involving recruitment of public school teachers in the prefecture.

"I proposed a nationwide academic aptitude test because I thought academic levels in areas where the JTU hold sway are low. Now I know it's true, so there's no longer any point in conducting such tests," he continued.

Nakayama proposed the test during his tenure as education, culture, sports, science and technology minister in the Cabinet of Junichiro Koizumi. Such an examination should be aimed at improving the academic levels of schoolchildren as a whole. However, he wanted to use it to prove a correlation between the JTU and low academic levels; which he failed to do. Claiming that "there is no longer any point in conducting such tests" -- as the minister who introduced the scheme, costing the government billions of yen a year -- is incredibly imprudent and irresponsible.

Regarding tourism policy, his remark that Japan is an ethnically homogeneous country has also been criticized for being a misconception.

This is not the first time that Nakayama's remarks have stirred controversy. One cannot help but wonder whether, Prime Minister Aso thought carefully about the selection of his Cabinet members and whether he really placed the right people in the right posts, as he said when he announced his Cabinet lineup.

This latest string of gaffes has raised doubts among a disappointed public. The government is faced with many outstanding issues, and Cabinet members are required to do their best to fulfill their duties, regardless of whether a general election will be called in the near future.

With the revolving-door nature of the top ministry posts in recent years, the Cabinet's trustworthiness as the top body of the executive branch of the government has been called into question.

The prime minister should instruct Cabinet ministers to properly understand policy issues they are supposed to tackle, and take a resolute action against any problem like the recent gaffe.
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