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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 January 31 - February 6  > JCP Kurabayashi: Don’t take property away from people in arrears with national health insurance premiums
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2018 January 31 - February 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP Kurabayashi: Don’t take property away from people in arrears with national health insurance premiums

February 2, 2018
Japanese Communist Party parliamentarian Kurabayashi Akiko on February 1 at a Diet committee meeting urged the national government to ensure that municipal governments not automatically take property away from those who were unable to pay national health insurance premiums, saying that irresponsible seizures will push them into poverty.

Kurabayashi at the House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting pointed out that as the number of low-income non-regular workers and pensioners rises, more and more people have financial problems and difficulties in paying public medical insurance premiums. She went on to say that under this situation, the number of public health insurance delinquents whose property was seized increased to 298,000 in 2015 from 45,000 in 2000.

Among the 298,000 people, not a few faced illegal seizures, Kurabayashi said. She talked about a 70-year-old man living in Tokyo as an example. She said that the man works as a temporary worker and earns 170,000 yen a month, barely able to support his wife who is in poor health and his unemployed son. The family was unable to pay the national health insurance premium of 20,000 yen a month for a while and as a result his wages were garnished.

Kurabayashi pointed out that a law prohibits municipal governments from taking wages from a person whose income is below a certain level. In this man’s case, the lower limit was 190,000 yen a month, which means that the municipal government violated the law’s prohibition. She stressed that municipalities must not threaten people’s right to live.

Furthermore, the JCP lawmaker criticized the government’s plan to provide financial support to municipalities that acted to reduce the nonpayment rate of the national health insurance premiums. She noted that this plan by the government, which will take effect in April, will encourage municipal governments to conduct more seizures, inevitably including illegal ones.

In reply, Welfare Minister Kato Katsunobu said that municipal governments should deal with non-payers taking into consideration their circumstances. He added that municipalities must not push low-income families into poverty by stripping them of their assets.

Past related articles:
> Min-iren survey: Poverty holds people back from seeing doctors, resulting in 58 deaths [April 1, 2017]
> Expensive public health insurance premiums endanger people’s lives [February 14, 2016]
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