69-hour-sit-in by elderly people calling for more budget for welfare

In the year-end cold winds in Tokyo, seven elderly people carried out a
69-hour sit-in in front of the Health and Welfare Ministry building, sitting
in front of a large placard which reads, "Does the government want elderly
people to die?"

The sit-in started from 3:00 p.m. of December 22 at the call of the
National Liaison Council for Social Welfare for the Elderly in protest
against the Koizumi Cabinet which, in compiling next year's draft budget,
aims at imposing a serious increase in medical payments on those over 65.

From October 1, nursing care insurance premiums for the elderly were
doubled, and the government plans to cut part of the free-medical care
system for elderly people.

They insist that the government stop increasing medical payments, and
introduce a system that will exempt and reduce part of nursing care
insurance premiums which has been already introduced by many local

"The government must give priority to supporting sound living conditions
for those in old age, but...," a participant in the sit-in said.

With ages ranging from 64 to 89, they continued sitting in the cold dawn
below zero degrees centigrade. "The coldness suggests," they said, "how
cold-hearted the Koizumi Cabinet is." (end)