Pension reform bill infringes on right to live: Shii to Koizumi

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo used his one-on-one debate with Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro on February 18 to demand that the government withdraw the pension reform bill because it conflicts with the constitutional right to live.

The government has proposed a bill which will allow pension benefits to be uniformly reduced if the economy worsens. It will allow the government to cut benefits up to 15 percent in real terms. The cut will be applied to the average monthly benefit of 46,000 yen to 9 million aged people who receive only their national pension for income. This amount is far below the standards of livelihood protection, the average of which is 84,000 yen a month.

Pointing out that cutbacks on such small national pension payments amounts to a violation of the Constitution's Article 25, Shii demanded that the bill be withdrawn.

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro evaded the issue by simply saying that pension and livelihood protection are two different matters.

At a news conference after the debate, Shii said that the prime minister's logic is not tenable as both the Livelihood Protection Law and the National Pension Law are based on Article 25 of the Constitution. He said that it is necessary to make it known to the people that the bill will cause a major degeneration of the pension system in violation of the Constitution. (end)

Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved.