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Japanese editorial excerpts -3-.

TOKYO, Feb. 7 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

THE HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS (IHT/Asahi as translated from the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun's editorial published Feb. 6)

There has been increasingly heated discussion concerning whether the income gap between rich and poor is growing in this country. In the Diet, opposition party members have argued that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's reforms have reinforced the inequality.

Koizumi, for his part, confidently asserts that inequality has not, in fact, been expanding at all.

The focal point in the debate is the Gini coefficient, which represents the degree of uneven distribution of income. The Cabinet Office contends that the increase in the coefficient is misleading.

According to its analysis, the apparently larger disparity in income is attributable to an increase in the number of elderly people, whose income is more uneven than those in younger generations. Viewed by each age group, it says, there has been little change.

What must be avoided at all costs in the fight against uneven income distribution is putting an end to the structural reform currently being carried out to realize an equitable and efficient society.

The income gap grew larger because of the long economic slump of the 1990s, and then by the lowering of the maximum income tax rate adopted in 1999 to fight the economic depression.

It is possible that the gap was further aggravated by the deregulation policy enacted by the Koizumi administration, but blame should not be pinned exclusively on structural reform. The economy picked up while reform was being carried out, after all.

While simultaneously acknowledging that, we should also think about how the fruit of the economic recovery should be distributed so that we can move closer to being a truly equitable society.

(Feb. 7)
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Feb 13, 2006
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