生活保護削減―歯止めはどこなのか

–The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 3
EDITORIAL: Deflation a baffling excuse to reduce welfare benefits
生活保護削減―歯止めはどこなのか

The government’s decision to cut welfare benefits has raised concerns about an endless decline in “the minimum standards of living,” which is guaranteed by the Constitution.
 憲法にうたわれた「最低限度の生活」が際限なく切り下げられるのではないか。そんな懸念さえ抱く。

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to reduce the budget for the livelihood protection program in the new fiscal year. Financial support to help the needy cover their living expenses will be effectively slashed by 6.5 percent over the next three years.
 政府が新年度から、生活保護予算を削減する方針を決めた。生活費にあたる「生活扶助」を3年かけて、実質的に6・5%減らす。

The benefits paid out under the program, which started in 1950, were trimmed only twice in the past, by 0.9 percent in fiscal 2003 and by 0.2 percent in fiscal 2004. The planned reduction will be exceptionally large.
 今の制度が始まった1950年以来、引き下げは03年度(0・9%減)と04年度(0・2%減)の2回だけ。今回の引き下げ幅はたいへん大きい。

The government says that 58 billion yen (about $625 million) of the 67-billion-yen cutback will represent an adjustment for the general decline in prices from 2008 through 2011.
 削減する670億円のうち580億円は、08年から11年までの物価下落(デフレ)分を反映させたという。

That’s a baffling claim.
 奇妙な話である。

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has reviewed the levels of the benefits provided under the program to ascertain that they are neither too high nor too low compared with the levels of spending by general low-income households.
 厚生労働省は、一般の低所得世帯の消費実態と比べ、生活扶助が多すぎたり少なすぎたりしないよう、検証したはずだ。

A panel of experts for the ministry actually carried out the review in 13 meetings that were open to the public. The panel concluded that the benefits to help cover living expenses should be relatively high for families of a husband and wife with children and relatively low for households consisting of a single elderly person.
 審議会の専門家が公開の会合を13回重ね、「生活扶助は子どものいる夫婦世帯では高め、高齢単身世帯は低め」といった結果を公表したではないか。

An adjustment of the benefits in line with the panel’s conclusion would reduce the budget for the program by only 9 billion yen. But the government has decided to prune the budget by an amount that is more than six times larger under the pretext of deflation.
 この通りに基準を見直して減る予算は90億円。ところが、その6倍以上の金額がデフレを理由に削減される。

It is indeed necessary to ensure that the levels of livelihood protection benefits are appropriate. Unlike the pension program, however, the livelihood protection program does not have a mechanism to reflect changes in prices on the amounts of benefits. The cutback for deflation adjustment has only been hastily introduced in line with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s desire to cut the benefits by 10 percent in principle.
 生活保護費を適正な水準にする必要はある。だが、そもそも年金とは違い、生活保護には物価の変動を反映させるルールはない。デフレ要因は、「給付水準の原則1割カット」を掲げる自民党の意向で、急きょ持ち出された理屈にすぎない。

The government should ask experts to re-examine the drastic decline in benefits from the viewpoint of the actual cost of living. The government would be acting in a rash and careless manner if it starts cutting the livelihood protection benefits based solely on its political decision without seeking opinions from experts. On the other hand, the administration is set to spend as much as 190 billion yen to reduce medical fees actually paid by elderly patients at hospitals.
 まず専門家による実証的な検討をすべきだ。それなしに、政治判断だけで生活保護に切り込むのは拙速である。一方で、高齢者医療の窓口負担軽減には1900億円も使うのだ。

Would the Abe administration raise the amounts of benefits if its 2-percent inflation target is achieved?
 安倍政権の目標である2%の物価上昇が実現したら、生活保護は引き上げるのだろうか。

The government’s move has brought to the fore the disturbing fact that there is no clear limit to cuts in livelihood protection benefits.
 今回、明らかになったのは、生活保護の引き下げに明確な歯止めが存在しないことだ。

When the economy kept growing and the levels of welfare benefits were constantly raised, there was probably no strong need for serious and exhaustive debate on the exact meaning of “the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living,” which is guaranteed by the Article 25 of the Constitution.
 経済が成長し、保護水準が引き上げられてきた時代には、憲法25条が保障する「健康で文化的な最低限度の生活」とは何かを、考え抜く必要性は薄かったかもしれない。

The only definition of the “minimum standards of living” that has ever been formulated in the history of the livelihood protection program is “having enough nutrition to be able to get out of bed in a daily life,” according to one study. This definition was established shortly after the end of World War II when the scars of the war still remained unhealed.
 生活保護の歴史で確認できる「最低限度の生活」の定義は、戦争の傷痕が残るころの「日常生活で寝起きが可能な程度の栄養所要量を充足すること」だけとの研究もある。

But times have changed.
 しかし、時代は変わった。

What are the “minimum standards of living” that should be guaranteed to all members of society?
 同じ社会に生きる人すべてに保障すべき「最低限度の生活」とは何か――。

This question is assuming greater importance for the security of life in today’s Japan, where the population is aging and the employment situation is becoming increasingly unstable.
 高齢化と雇用の不安定化が進む日本で、私たちが安心して暮らすために、この問いの重みは増している。

広告

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク

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