2016年06月17日

参院選へ アベノミクスの行方 地に足の着いた議論を

June 15, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Political parties need to debate long-term economic policies
参院選へ アベノミクスの行方 地に足の着いた議論を

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the pros and cons of the government's determination to speed up "Abenomics," the economic policy mix promoted by his government, to the maximum extent is the key point of contention in the upcoming House of Councillors election. However, it is essential to examine the results of speeding up Abenomics before evaluating the policy mix.
 アベノミクスのエンジンをもう一度、最大限にふかす。その是非を問う選挙だと安倍晋三首相は言う。だが、その判断には、これまでふかした結果がどうなったかをまず点検しなくてはならない。

Prime Minister Abe worked out a scenario of reviving the economy 3 1/2 years ago. Under the scenario, if the government and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) shared the goal of achieving an annual inflation rate of 2 percent within two years and implemented all possible policy measures to that end, Japan would overcome deflation, generate a virtual economic cycle and achieve the high growth that the country had previously experienced.
 3年半前、安倍首相が約束した経済再生のシナリオはこうだった。年2%の物価上昇目標を政府と日銀が共有し、政策をフル稼働させたら、デフレから脱却し、経済の好循環が生まれ、かつてのような高い成長が再現できる。

However, the government is far from achieving this goal.
 だが、現実は遠く及んでいない。

The inflation rate was minus 0.3 percent this April for the second consecutive month. The average real-term economic growth rate between 2013 -- shortly after Abe returned to power -- and 2015 came to 0.6 percent, far below the goal of 2 percent.
成果だけを語る危うさ
 「2年で2%達成」のはずだった物価上昇率は、3年後の今年4月、2カ月連続でマイナス0・3%だった。実質経済成長率も、政権発足後の2013〜15年は平均で0・6%と、2%の目標にほど遠い。

The public is becoming increasingly pessimistic about the economy. According to a survey conducted by the BOJ, 38 percent of respondents predicted that economic conditions will worsen in a year, close to 41 percent who answered so in a survey shortly before the Abe government was formed in December 2012.
 景気に対する国民の感覚も悲観的なものに逆戻りしつつあるようだ。日銀の調査によると、1年後の景気が今より「悪くなる」と回答した人の比率が最近は38%と、政権発足前の41%に迫る高さだ。

Despite these scenarios, Prime Minister Abe emphasized that Abenomics has produced positive results. He often cites the ratio of job offers to job seekers, which is the highest in 24 years, as evidence of the success of his economic policy mix. However, the rise in this index is attributable to a shortage in the workforce. There is a particularly serious labor shortage in the day care and nursing care fields where there is a growing demand for human resources.
 こうした現状にもかかわらず、安倍首相はアベノミクスの「成果」を強調する。その証しとしてしばしば首相が引用するのが過去24年で最高という有効求人倍率だ。仕事を探している人1人に対して、仕事の誘いが何件あるかという統計だが、上昇の背景にあるのは人手不足である。特に保育や介護といった、働き手がますます必要とされている分野で、深刻な人員不足が起きている。

It is difficult to secure workers in these fields because the number of people working is falling, wages are lower and workers in these fields are forced to work long hours. The rise in the ratio of job offers to job seekers due to such circumstances is never favorable but problematic.
 現役世代の人口減少に、低賃金、長時間労働が加わり、必要な人材が集まらない。そんな背景を抱えた有効求人倍率上昇は、問題でこそあれ、誇れる現象ではない。

The prime minister explains that Abenomics is producing positive results but that its effects are dampened by the world economy. However his explanation is inaccurate. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised downward its forecast for Japan's economic growth this year to 0.5 percent. The range of the drop and the sluggishness of economic growth in Japan is conspicuous as compared with Western countries.
 安倍首相はまた、アベノミクスはうまくいっているが、世界経済が足を引っ張っているとも説明する。だがこれも正確さを欠く。国際通貨基金の世界経済見通しによると、日本の今年の成長予測は0・5%に下方修正され、下振れの幅も成長率の低さも、欧米に比べて目立つ。

It is obvious that Abenomics is not making its intended achievements. Then why is the economic policy mix not working well?
 アベノミクスが、描いた姿になっていないのは明らかだ。では、なぜうまくいかなかったのだろうか。

The problem is that the government set unrealistic goals in the first place. Japan's economic growth rate is far lower than those of other developed countries. However, the figure is not necessarily too low considering that Japan's potential annual economic growth has declined to 0 to 0.5 percent.
 そもそも、非現実的な目標を掲げたところに誤りの始まりがあったとみるべきだ。他の先進国と比べたら確かに見劣りする日本の成長率だが、成長の実力が今や0〜0・5%まで低下していることを考えたら、必ずしも低過ぎではない。

The fact that Japan's potential economic growth has declined due largely to a decline in its population should be called into question. However, the Abe administration pictured a scenario of reviving rapid economic growth based on the assumption that a virtuous cycle of economic growth can be generated if Japan overcomes deflation.
 人口減少の影響などで成長の実力そのものが低下した点こそ問題視すべきなのに、「デフレさえ克服すれば、成長の好循環が生まれる」という高成長復活の夢を描いた。

The Abe government is still pursuing its dream of economic growth.
 そしてなお夢を追おうとする。

In September 2015, the second phase of Abenomics was unveiled under the slogan of "the dynamic engagement of all citizens." Under the policy mix, the government is aiming to increase Japan's gross domestic product to at least 600 trillion yen by 2020. This goal is based on the assumption that productivity will be raised to levels equivalent to those during the economic bubble in the late 1980s to the early 1990s. The goal is based on a hypothesis that even many experts believe is unfeasible.
 昨年9月、アベノミクスは「第2弾」にリセットされ、「1億総活躍社会」というスローガンが登場した。「2020年に国内総生産600兆円以上」を目指すという。達成の前提になっているのは、バブル期と同水準の生産性の向上だ。専門家が実現性に首をかしげる仮定をもとに算出した数字なのである。

One cannot help but wonder what would happen if the government were to speed up Abenomics based on such an illusion of rapid economic growth. It must be kept in mind that the most negative aspect of Abenomics could be exposed.
 こうした高成長の幻想のもとで政策を最大限「ふかす」とどうなるか。アベノミクスに内在する最大の負の側面が露呈するのはこれからだということを忘れてはならない。

The BOJ has kept buying a massive number of government bonds. The outstanding amounts of government bonds that the central bank has amassed have exceeded those owned by commercial banks and account for about one-third of the outstanding government bonds. The amount of such bonds that the BOJ possesses will likely continue to increase.
野党も対抗軸を示せ
 日銀内に積み上がっていく巨額の国債である。すでに日銀が保有する国債の残高は民間銀行の合計を超え、発行残高の約3分の1を占める。今後も増え続けることだろう。

Risks involving the BOJ's purchase of massive amounts of government bonds would be exposed when consumer prices rise and the BOJ is forced to decrease the volumes of government bonds that the central bank buys. The government bond market has been stabilized because market players believe that bond prices will not decline because the BOJ will continue to buy them. However, if the central bank suggests it may discontinue buying massive amounts of government bonds, the prices of the bonds could plummet.
 リスクが顕在化するのは、物価が上昇し日銀が国債の購入ペースを落とさねばならなくなった時だ。「日銀が必ず買うから値下がりしない」との前提で成り立っていた市場で、最大の買い手が退くシグナルを発した途端、つり上がっていた国債の価格は暴落しかねない。

To avoid such risks, the central bank needs to continue purchasing large amounts of government bonds. However, such a practice could cause the economy to overheat, and it could become impossible to control inflation. Such risks have heightened to an alarming level. If the BOJ is to buy growing amounts of government bonds in response to the prime minister's order that Abenomics be sped up, the central bank would find it increasingly difficult to find a way out of this policy.
 回避するには、引き続き大量購入を続けねばならないが、そうすると景気が過熱し、インフレが制御できなくなる恐れがある。現在でもすでにリスクは積み上がっているが、安倍首相の「ふかせ」の号令に沿って日銀が購入額を増やせば、一段と出口はふさがる。

Neither Prime Minister Abe nor BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda will talk about these risks. During the campaign for the upcoming upper house race, ruling and opposition parties should not only evaluate Abenomics but also address such potential risks involving the policy mix.
 安倍首相も黒田東彦日銀総裁もこの最大のリスクについて語ろうとしない。選挙戦では、アベノミクスのこれまでの評価だけでなく、顕在化していないリスクについても、国民の前で議論を深める必要がある。

Opposition parties should show new economic policies to counter the unrealistic economic growth policy line in Abenomics. In particular, it is necessary to work out policy measures to respond to the population decline as the country's population is estimated to fall by 10 million over the next 15 years. The opposition parties should address the issue of accepting more foreign workers, which tends to be viewed as a taboo, in addition to reforming labor practices and expand day care services to promote women's empowerment.
 同時に野党は、アベノミクスの非現実的な成長路線に対抗する新たな経済政策を提示すべきだ。何より30年までの15年間で1000万人の減少が予想される人口問題に対応した政策が必要である。女性の労働参加を広げるための働き方の改革や保育の体制充実に加え、タブー視されがちな外国人労働者の受け入れ拡大などにも踏み込んでほしい。

Policy measures that bring only short-term benefits to the public, such as the government's decision to postpone the consumption tax increase, and future visions that are overly optimistic could cause anxiety among members of the public. Due to such concerns, people continue to save money even though interest rates on their savings are almost zero while companies are hesitant to make capital investments.
 参院選前の消費増税先送りが象徴するように、目先の良い話と楽観的な将来像ばかりでは、人々は不安を抱きかねない。不安があるから、金利がゼロでも人々はお金をため続け、企業は投資に二の足を踏む。

Both the governing and opposition parties should squarely face the reality and hold in-depth debate on long-term economic policies.
 現実を直視し、将来までも見据えた政策論議に期待する。
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