LDP and Komei agree on plan to increase pension premiums and reduce benefits

The government and the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties on December 17 agreed on a pension reform plan that will adversely affect the people from 2004.

The agreement calls for the rate of the state-run employee pension premiums to be increased from the present 13.58 percent to 18.35 percent, and for the minimum rate of benefits to be reduced to 50 percent of the average wage of active workers, from the present 59 percent.

In a published statement on the same day, Sasaki Kensho, acting Policy Commission chair of the Japanese Communist Party, criticized the government-ruling party plan, saying it will force the people to pay more for less benefits, adding to their apprehensions about the future.

Sasaki said, "The problem is that substantial cuts in the amount of pension payments will seriously affect those on small pensions, who count for a great majority of the people."

He also pointed out that the increased burden and reduced benefits basically stem from the government policy of not increasing the percentage of the state share in the pension funds.

Sasaki said, "The JCP calls for the government share of burden for the premiums of national pension insurance to be increased immediately from the present 33 percent to 50 percent, and for the 150 trillion yen reserved as pension funds to be expended according to plan." (end)

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