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Promoting the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens | 公益財団法人フォーリン・プレスセンター(FPCJ)

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Promoting the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens

post date : 2015.12.11


aflo_PLRE000969Asahi: “Giveaway of taxpayer money poor way to improve wealth distribution”

Sankei: “Face the issues impeding policies”

Nikkei: “Both process and finances unclear for the ‘Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens’ policy”

Mainichi: “Concrete steps needed to reach gov’t goal of ‘engagement of all citizens’”

Yomiuri: “Securing fiscal, personnel resources key to establishing ‘dynamic society’”



The National Council for Promoting the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens, a government panel chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, held a meeting on November 26, approving urgent measures to realize “a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.” The package of emergency measures involves what the prime minister calls the “new three arrows of Abenomics:” achieving \600 trillion in gross domestic product, raising the fertility rate to 1.8 and reducing to zero the number of workers who must quit their jobs to care for family members. Related expenditures will be included in the fiscal 2015 supplementary budget.


The Mainichi Shimbun wrote about the package of measures before its approval in its editorial dated November 25, while The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun and The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) carried their editorials on the topic on November 27. The Asahi Shimbun’s editorial appeared on the following day.


The Yomiuri and The Mainichi supported the direction the package is aiming, with the former saying: “The package calls for boosting assistance for child-rearing and nursing care, thereby increasing the number of female, young and elderly workers. Its medium- and long-term goal is to stop the skid in population decline, thereby helping to promote the growth of the national economy. This is the right direction to follow.”


The two newspapers, however, urged the government to present specific measures to find financial sources and to secure human resources for the package because “the problem lies with the lack of  any concrete measures on how to secure them”, as The Mainichi said.


The Sankei said, “We evaluate the government’s attitude favorably in that it is trying to rectify the state of the nation’s social security system, which tends to emphasize benefits for seniors, by expanding day care services and raising the level of payouts provided to workers taking leaves to care for their family members.”


The Sankei, however, balked at the package’s content: “We cannot help but to deem it unreasonable, considering its feasibility.”


The Nikkei was more critical. “We have the strong impression that the package is a hodgepodge of conventional policies pursued by government ministries and agencies,” the economic daily said. “The government has no clear path to achieving the goals, nor has it found solid resources to finance the policies. It is not unreasonable to think the package is designed as a campaign tactic for the House of Councillors election next summer.


“We hope sincere discussions will be conducted in the run up to the compilation next spring of a “plan to promote the dynamic engagement of all citizens.”


Meanwhile The Asahi, said, “We welcome the Abe administration’s decision to tackle the issue of wealth distribution as one of its defining policy themes,” while also mentioning “But there is no denying that the administration’s responses to this issue have been composed mainly of stopgap measures, as it has been trying to use everything in its policy toolbox to pull the economy out of deflation and rev up economic growth.”


■ Social security and its financing


The Nikkei referred to the government’s goals of raising the fertility rate to 1.8 and eliminating the number of workers who must quit their jobs to care for family members, and said solving nagging issues related to these goals is daunting. “The measures would provide some help to realize these goals,” the paper said. “But they are not good enough to recover the fertility rate—which has stayed at low levels for a long time, or to solve issues over elderly care, which have not been solved even after the introduction of the nursing insurance system.”


To address issues over the declining birthrate, The Nikkei said, “It is essential to change how people work by rectifying the practice of working long hours so as to better enable them to strike a good balance between work and family.... Be it childcare or caring for the elderly, it will end up as a pie in the sky if we don’t secure manpower for these tasks.”


The Sankei, too, said securing financial sources is the biggest challenge. “The Finance Ministry plans to suppress a \170 billion  increase in social security costs in the next fiscal year’s budget,” the paper said. “Increasing social security costs for emergency measures at the same time is like stepping on the gas and brake pedals at the same time....  New policies should not be launched to meet temporary goals, such as the propping up of the economy for now or the wooing of voters for the House of Councillors election.”


The Mainichi brought up the issues of salaries for nursing care and child care staff, and referring to the Finance Ministry’s plan for curbing the growth of social security costs in the next fiscal year, the paper questioned the resolve of the Abe government: “To expand elderly and child care services amid such a tight budget, the government must introduce unpopular policies such as asking the public to shoulder greater tax burdens and insurance premiums, as well as holding down pension payments for better-off households.”


The Yomiuri, for its part, urged the government to steadily implement measures in the package. “The necessity for many of the emergency measures had been pointed out, but their implementation was postponed due to a lack of fiscal resources and other reasons,” the paper said. “The government plans to include high-priority measures in a list of projects to be covered by a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, which ends next March. Such prioritized measures must be carried out steadily.”


The Yomiuri, however, pointed out no financial sources are found for the next fiscal year and beyond, urging the government to present feasible ways to secure the necessary funding in the medium- and long-term plan it will compile next spring.



■ Wealth distribution policy


The Asahi welcomed the package as well as payouts to low pension income recipients, but cautioned the government by saying “giving away taxpayer money to a certain group of people is hardly the right way for the government to tackle the issue through its fiscal policy.”


As a wealth distribution policy, the government is considering paying \30,000 each to about 10 million pensioners. The Asahi, however, pointed out that People’s circumstances differ widely with regard to their incomes and assets,” and sought a serious policy: “The government’s policy efforts to deal with wealth distribution should be focused on developing a system to support the needy by adjusting budgets and taxes, mainly those related to social security. It should be done in a way that gives careful consideration to the different financial conditions of individuals.”


The Sankei also touched on the wealth distribution measure, but struck a different note. “It is nothing short of an inconsistent policy, as the government has just implemented the automatic adjustment of benefits based on macroeconomic indexation to curb pension payments.”


Photo: AFLO


*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively. Those for The Nikkei and The Sankei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.





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