社説(和英対訳)

【サンプル】We must heal dangerous divisions in the world

  • English

  • 日本語

  • A new year has arrived, with the world remaining to be plagued by deep and dangerous divisions.

    Our world today is full of divisions due to racial, religious, economic, generational and various other factors.Globalization is supposed to create a world where national borders become increasingly permeable and irrelevant, but, ironically, the world as we see it is crisscrossed with dividing lines.

    To heal these divisions, world leaders should be striving to build a society where people can live with a sense of security by promoting reconciliation and removing inequalities.

    Regrettably, however, there are many political, religious and opinion leaders across the globe who try to promote their agendas by taking advantage of divisions in society. And such people often earn plaudits by doing so.

    But there have also been some notable efforts to heal rifts and explore new forms of global consolidation. The 2015 United Nations climate change conference (COP21), held in Paris late last year, for instance, produced a landmark agreement on a new international framework for reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in the years after 2020. The breakthrough was made possible as countries united for a real solution to the challenge of stemming global warming, which transcends their parochial interests.

    The world needs to start its efforts in the new year to tackle the formidable challenges it faces today by confronting, one by one, the crises of solidarity and empathy threatening its future.

    POLITICS TO DEEPEN RIFTS

    The Islamic State (IS) is an extremist organization that tries to divide people by promoting its fanatic dogma.

    The IS not only enslaves and kills people who refuse to obey it in areas it controls. The group is also working to create a deep rift between Muslims and the rest of the world by inciting hatred among Muslims toward other religions and cultures.

    How are people and countries who have become targets of terror attacks by the IS responding to the threat?

    In Europe, a wary attitude toward refugees from the Middle East and Muslim immigrants in the region has intensified sharply. In France and some other European countries, there is strong public support to xenophobic rightist parties.In the United States, Donald Trump, the leading contender to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, has called for a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims and made some other outrageous proposals. He remains very popular.

    People such as Trump call for measures that create divisions to fight the efforts to create divisions by people like Muslim extremists. Their approaches are strangely similar to those of their supposed enemies in that they are designed to divide the world.

    Social rifts due to widening economic inequality are also becoming increasingly serious in many parts of the world.

    According to a report released last year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2013 income gaps were the largest in the past 30 years in most of its 34 member countries. Assets are even more concentrated in the hands of the wealthy few than income, according to the OECD.

    In his best-selling book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which has attracted global attention, French economist Thomas Piketty points out that inequality can lead to serious social divisions. In a society with extreme levels of wealth concentration, Piketty maintains, people’s discontent triggers a revolution unless it is suppressed with an iron fist.

    Japan is not free from the various divisions plaguing the world, either.

    Japan cannot be described as a country eager to accept refugees, who number in the tens of millions in the world. Japan’s refugee policy doesn’t reflect any keen awareness of the unfolding crisis of solidarity.

    SPIRIT OF BROTHERHOOD GONE AWRY

    Japan is no exception, either, to the global trend toward greater economic inequality.In fact, income equality in this nation has widened to a level even higher than the average among the OECD countries.The ratio of poverty among children and the percentage of non-regular workers in the overall workforce in Japan are both on the rise.Japan is now a mere shadow of the country of equality it used to be.Despite growing inequities, the proposed integrated tax and social security reform to improve the situation has been making little headway. Social solidarity in this nation is only weakening.

    The issue of the heavy concentration of U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture is also causing a division in Japan. What many of the people in Okinawa are asking the mainland to do is to share the burden of hosting so many U.S. bases, which is simply too heavy for just one prefecture to keep bearing.They are asking for help from their fellow countrymen.

    But the mainland has been making rather cool responses to Okinawa’s request for support. Political leaders in Tokyo have cast the issue as a partisan battle over security policy.This attitude gives no hint of true nationalism, which creates empathy for and solidarity with fellow countrymen.

    The kind of narrow-minded nationalism that tilts toward exclusion instead of embrace, like populism, causes society to become divided rather than united.

    What is needed for the world to overcome the trend toward becoming more and more divided?

    The agreement reached in the COP21 conference seems to be a result of a globally shared pragmatic recognition of the reality that countries cannot find a true solution to this challenge as long as they focus on trying to avoid bearing their fair share of the burden for the time being.

    Eisaku Ide, an economics professor at Keio University who has received the “Osaragi Jiro Prize for Commentary” for his book “Keizai no jidai no shuen” (End of the age of economy), stresses the importance of pragmatic thinking.

    Ide, who studied social divisions from the economic viewpoint in the book, says in Japan a deep rift has emerged between high- and middle-income groups on the one hand and the low-income class on the other, rapidly eroding empathy among people for other members of society.What is crucial for fixing this problem, Ide argues, is not any ideology or doctrine but the pragmatic recognition that people gain from mutual help by becoming beneficiaries and happy people themselves.

    The effectiveness of promoting people’s understanding of the benefits of pursuing practical solutions rather than doctrines and ideologies offers an important insight into the efforts to revive solidarity and empathy in society.

    BEFORE DEMOCRACY COLLAPSES

    Social divisions pose a serious threat to democracy. People stop respecting political decisions unless they feel that they have been involved in making the decisions.This situation then causes society to be divided further into smaller groups in a vicious cycle.

    We must confront our society’s illness of becoming more and more divided and make effective efforts to enhance policies and opinions that refuse to take advantage of such divisions.

    We must do so before the problem becomes so serious as to ruin democracy.

  •  地球が、傷だらけで新年を迎えた。

     民族や宗教、経済、世代……。あらゆるところに亀裂が走っている。国境を超越した空間を意味するはずのグローバル世界は今、皮肉なことにたくさんの分断線におおわれている。

     それを修復するために、和解を進め、不公平をなくし、安心できる社会を実現する――。

     それこそが指導者の使命であろう。だが、むしろ社会の分断につけこむ政治家や宗教者、言論人も登場し、しばしば喝采を浴びている。

     他方、亀裂を埋めて新しい連帯の形を探す。そんな動きも出ている。たとえば昨年末、パリでの国連気候変動会議(COP21)で、各国は地球温暖化対策で新しい枠組みに合意した。それぞれの思惑を超えた真の解決に向けて結束した。

     新年の挑戦は、連帯と共感の危機にひとつひとつ向き合うことから始まる。

    ■溝を深める政治

     「イスラム国(IS)」は、狂信的な教義を掲げて人々の分断を謀る過激派組織だ。

     支配地域で従わない人々を隷属化し殺害するだけではない。ほかの宗教や文化を憎悪の対象にしてイスラム教徒との間に深い溝を作ろうとしている。

     その刃を向けられた側は、どう応えようとしているか。

     欧州では、中東からの難民やイスラム系移民層への警戒感が急速に強まった。フランスなどで、排他的な右翼政党の支持が高い。米国では共和党の大統領候補選びで「イスラム教徒を入国禁止に」などと放言し続けるトランプ氏の人気が衰えない。

     分断に分断で対抗する。敵対し合っているはずの勢力が、世界を分断するという点では奇妙に共鳴し合っている。

     経済的な不平等の拡大による社会の亀裂も深刻化している。

     経済協力開発機構(OECD)の昨年の発表によると、2013年に、大半の加盟国(34カ国)の所得格差が過去30年で最大になった。また、資産は所得以上に富裕層に集中しているという。

     フランスの経済学者ピケティ氏は、世界的に注目された大著「21世紀の資本」のなかで、あまりに富の集中が進んだ社会では、人々の不満を強権で抑えつけるか、革命が起きるしかなくなる、と不平等がはらむ危険を指摘している。

     日本もこうした多くの亀裂を免れているわけではない。

     世界で数千万にのぼる難民の受け入れという点で積極的な国とは言えない。そこに連帯の危機への問題意識は低い。

    ■「同胞」意識の迷走

     経済的な不平等についても例外国ではない。それどころか所得格差はOECD平均を超えて広がっている。子どもの貧困率や雇用の非正規率も上昇している。かつての平等な国の姿はすっかり遠くなった。にもかかわらず、社会保障と税の一体改革もままならず、この国の社会的連帯は弱まるばかりだ。

     沖縄の米軍基地問題も日本に分断を生んでいる。県民の多くが本土に求めるのは、一県には重すぎる負担の分担だ。「同胞」から「同胞」への支援要請である。

     しかし本土の反応は冷たい。政治は問題を安全保障をめぐる党派的な対立の構図に還元してしまう。そこに「同胞」への共感と連帯をもたらす本来のナショナリズムは、見る影もない。

     「包摂」より「排除」に傾くナショナリズムは、ポピュリズムと同様に社会を統合するより分断する。

     克服には何が必要だろうか。

     COP21の合意は、自分の負担を避けようとするだけでは、問題のほんとうの解決にはつながらないと、各国の間で実際的な考えが共有された成果ではないだろうか。

     また、経済の視点から社会の分断を考察した「経済の時代の終焉(しゅうえん)」で大佛次郎論壇賞に決まった慶応義塾大学経済学部の井手英策教授も、実際的な考え方の重要性を指摘する。

     教授によると、日本では中高所得層と低所得層の間に溝ができ、人々の間の共感が消滅しつつある。修復には理念ではなく「お互い助け合った方が得をする、自分も受益者になる、幸せになるという視点が必要だ」と話す。

     理念より実際的な解決への理解を広める。連帯や共感の再生への取り組みを可能にするための重要な手がかりではないか。

    ■民主主義壊れる前に

     社会の分断は民主主義にとって脅威だ。「私たちみんなで決めた」という感覚がなければ、人々は政治的な決定を尊重しようとはしなくなる。そしてそれはさらに社会を細分化する悪循環を招く。

     私たちの社会が抱える分断という病理を直視し、そこにつけ込まない政治や言論を強くしていかなければならない。

     民主主義さえも台無しにするほどに深刻化する前に。