日本の高額な公共水道についての考察(出典:The Japan Times)

今日のテキストは、The Japan Tims ジャパンタイムズ掲載の記事「高額な日本の公共水道についての考察」*1から抜粋します。



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Examining the high price of Japan's water systems







1 あらすじ





最後では、水を利用する際には懸命な判断と行動が必要であるという意見を述べて締めくくっています。 *2



2 本文





When we were negotiating for the purchase of a piece of land, the realtor told us that the lot we were interested in had no access to public waterworks, which meant we would have to dig a well. At first, this aspect seemed like a demerit, since hiring a company to dig the well would cost more than ¥400,000 plus administrative fees.



the realtor      不動産業者

had no access to public waterworks  公共水道が整備されていない

would have to  (仮定法)〜することになる 

seem like ~  〜のように思える

demerit  デメリット

administrative fees  手続き費用や諸経費などその他の必要経費




But we later discovered that buyers of properties in a housing development about a kilometer west of us who did have access to public waterworks had to pay an initial contract fee of ¥200,000 to ¥300,000 just to have their plumbing turned on.



properties  宅地としての不動産物件

a housing development  宅地開発

pay an initial contract fee  当初契約金を支払う

have plumbing turned on  水道管を配管する




And, of course, thereafter they would be receiving bimonthly bills charging them for water usage. We, on the other hand, have not had any more water-related expenses since digging our well, so it turned out to be a good move from an economic standpoint.



bimonthly bills  隔月で届く請求書

water usage  水道使用

turn out to be  結局〜ということ(結果など)になる

from an economic standpoint  経済的な見地から




In Chiba Prefecture, where we live, only 4.8 percent of the population lacks access to the public water system, according to the health ministry. With a penetration rate of nearly 98 percent, Japan is a world leader when it comes to waterworks, which is a good thing because from now on there will be less economic incentive to increase penetration due to declining population numbers, successfully promoted water-saving measures and the high cost of waterworks construction and maintenance.



lack access to the public water system  公共水道に接続されていない

a penetration rate  (公共水道接続の)普及率

when it comes to   〜に関しては、〜については

declining population numbers  減少していく人口

successfully promoted  効果的に啓発がなされている

water-saving measures  節水方法

construction and maintenance  (水道管敷設)工事と維持管理




After we moved in we called the municipal waterworks operators that service neighborhoods in surrounding areas. All told us there was no plan to extend pipes into our neighborhood, and there never will be. There just weren’t enough potential customers where we lived to make it economically worthwhile.



moved in  引っ越す

service(V)  (公共水道サービスを)提供する

extend pipes  水道管を延長して埋設する

in one's neighborhood  ご近所で

potential customers  潜在顧客

make it economically worthwhile  <直訳>経済的に価値あるものとする <意訳>費用対効果が得られる




Local governments operate waterworks, and according to a feature in the June 4, 2018, issue of the business magazine Toyo Keizai, many can no longer manage the cost of distribution using only funds derived from user fees.



a feature  特集記事

the June 4, 2018 issue  2018年6月4日発行の

derived from  〜から得られる




The main problem is maintenance, which is becoming more expensive as systems age. Typically, the lifespan of a pipe is 40 years, and as of 2015, 13.6 percent of the pipes in Japan were older than that. Given that the number of outdated pipes has doubled in the previous 10 years while revenues from user fees had dropped by ¥200 billion, according to the magazine, it is clear that maintenance will become more of a problem for public utilities from now on. Many municipalities, in fact, have to tap their general account budget for funds to fix aging waterworks.



age (v)  年数が経過する

lifespan  耐用年数

given that   〜だとすると

double (v)  2倍になる

in the previous 10 years  直近の10年間で

revenues  歳入

it is clear that  〜は明らかである

become more of a problem for   より一層問題となる

public utilities  (電力、ガス、水道などの)公益事業

municipalities  地方自治

tap   積み立てる

the general account budget  一般財源予算

funds  基金

the aging waterworks  老朽化(経年劣化)する水道施設




But infrastructure maintenance is just one burden placed on public waterworks. There are also legacy costs. Many water systems in the country rely on dams that municipalities are still paying off. In the end, users shoulder this debt.



infrastructure maintenance  社会基盤施設の維持管理

legacy costs  遺物の管理に要する費用

rely on  〜に頼る、依存する

pay off  支払う、支出する

in the end  結局

shoulder  負担する




Also, dams ostensibly assure there is a water supply by storing it in reservoirs, a means of provision that requires chemical treatment and filtration, adding to the cost. Dams and reservoirs also need to be maintained. Consequently, some consumers believe dam construction is an unnecessary burden. Residents in Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture have sued the central government over their opposition to the construction of a new dam at a time when demand for water is decreasing.



ostensibly  表面的に、表向きに

reservoirs  貯水池

dam  ダム

provision  用意、準備

chemical treatment  科学薬品を使用した措置

filtration  濾過

cosequently  結果として(=as a result)




These reasons and others are why the central government recently approved an amendment to the Water Supply Act that will allow private contractors to enter the public waterworks field on a concession basis, the idea being that private companies are better equipped to address the changing financial nature of the sector.



an amendment to   〜の改訂版、または、改正したもの

the Water Supply Act  水道法

concession  (一般的には)譲歩、容認


be equipped to   (能力や技術、ノウハウなどが)備わっている

address  取り組む



For instance, according to Toyo Keizai, the loss of water due to pipe leakage is only 5 percent nationwide, lower than it is in most advanced countries, but it costs a lot to keep it that low. It is easier for private concerns to rationalize rate hikes to meet maintenance demands. However, as one water agent told Toyo Keizai, basing a business only on user fees will not cover rising costs in the long run, adding that if the local government takes care of maintenance, it could work out.



pipe leakage  (水道管から生じる)漏水

nationwide  国内全体で

rationalize  正当化する

rate hikes  利用料の上昇

in the long run  長い目でみて

work out  うまくいく



But as one expert told the magazine, the discussions shouldn’t be about who operates the waterworks but rather what price would be acceptable. According to the Development Bank of Japan, 60 percent of local governments will need to increase rates by an average of 60 percent by fiscal 2046 compared to those in fiscal 2014. Most likely wages are not going to increase at the same rate, so it’s logical to imagine consumers trying to cut back even more on water usage.



the Development Bank of Japan  日本政策投資銀行

most likely  ほぼ明らかなように

at the same rate  同じような(上昇)率で

it is logical to imagine  〜のように想像するのは理にかなっている

cut back  減らす、節約する



For reference, the average single-person household in Tokyo in fiscal 2016 paid ¥3,209 a month for 8.2 cubic meters of water, according to statistics attributed to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Kirimoru.com, a website on how to save money. Water rates vary greatly from one municipality to another — in fiscal 2016 the town of Naganohara in Gunma Prefecture charged almost 10 times what the city of Ako, Hyogo Prefecture, charged for 10 cubic meters of water.



for reference  参考として

single-person household  一人暮らし家庭

cubic meters of water  立方メートル

the Tokyo Metropolitan Government  東京都庁

attributed to  〜に出所のある



Conservation is an ongoing endeavor, and the biggest use of water in a Japanese household is for bathing — a daily routine for many. However, baths do have an advantage over showers in terms of saving money. Because the individual washes their body outside the tub, a whole family can use the same water on a given evening. Also, bath water can have secondary uses for laundry, watering plants and even washing the car. Though showering uses less water per session, none of that water is saved. One minute of showering uses 12 liters of water, and in Tokyo a 10-minute shower costs about ¥29, according to the website. That’s almost ¥900 a month for a daily shower.



conservation  保護、保全(そのための活動)

ongoing  現在進行中の

endeavor  真剣な努力

bathing  入浴

in terms of  〜に関して

secondary uses  2次的な活用

watering plants  花木や植木へ水をやる




Water for drinking and cooking is a more difficult matter to analyze.

The increasing global trade in bottled water over the past three decades has prompted backlash for various reasons.



global trade  世界貿易

prompted  促される、誘発される

backlash  反発、反動、巻き返しの運動



The transportation and packaging of potable water has lead to all sorts of environmental problems — an overabundance of plastic, fuel expended to move water from one place to another and private companies monopolizing local watersheds and aquifers.



transportation  輸送

packaging  包装

overabundance  過剰状態

expend  消費する

monopolize  独占する

watershed  分水界、分水嶺

aquifers  帯水層(地下水が溜まっている層)



In Japan, which is blessed with an abundance of water sources and rainfall, production of bottled water has increased from 87,000 kiloliters in 1982 to 3.25 million kiloliters in 2017, according to the Mineral Water Association of Japan. At the same time, imports of bottled water have gone from 163 kiloliters in 1982 to 339,517 kiloliters in 2017.



be blessed with  〜の恩恵を受ける

abundance  豊富であること

imports   輸入



Environmentalists urge consumers to stick to tap water, meaning locally accessed water, for their drinking and cooking needs rather than bottled water.



environmentalist  環境保護活動家

consumer  消費者

tap water  水道水



Because our household water comes from 60 meters below our property, it’s mineral water. As a result, what comes out of our faucet has a distinct odor and we have to clean the grit out of our shower heads once in a while.



faucet  水道の蛇口

distinct  明確な、明らかな

odor  臭い、臭気

grit  砂

once in a while  たまには



Local authorities have tested our water and deem it to be safe to drink without a filter, but there’s no telling what that kind of water can do to your kidneys over time, so for drinking and cooking we fill tanks with filtered water offered by any of three supermarkets in our vicinity.



local authorities  (自分が住んでいる地域の)行政機関

deem it to be  〜であると判断する

there is no telling   〜かどうかはわからない

in one's vicinity  近所に



Though it’s free, because of the time and labor involved, we don’t waste a drop of it. We keep commercially bottled water for emergencies, but we survive just fine without the public water system.



the public water system  公共水道 



When water availability is a function of capitalist prerogative rather than basic human need, you get by the best way you can.



a function of capitalist prerogative  資本家に特権として与えられた機能や役割




3 まとめ


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