Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2010 June 30 - July 6  > Don’t drive people to suicide by taking away medical care opportunity! - Akahata ‘Current’ column
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2010 June 30 - July 6 [WELFARE]

Don’t drive people to suicide by taking away medical care opportunity! - Akahata ‘Current’ column

March 5, 2010
A lifeline is something that is supposed to protect human lives. What if it ties someone down and throws him into the depths of despair?

A 29-year-old man living in Tokyo was barely able to eat with the heavy burden of making monthly payments for the national health insurance and national pension plans. It was very hard for him to pay these premiums and he eventually fell behind in his payments. He began receiving a reminder notice almost every month from the city office. He then promised the city office to pay the premiums in arrears by installments, even though could not do so.

In 2005, he received a notice threatening him with the compulsory seizure of his already-small earnings. Subsequently he was stripped of his health insurance card and was issued a “temporary certificate.” With this, he had to pay the full amount of medical expenses at hospitals. A month and a half later, he killed himself without having anyone to turn to.

Japanese Communist Party representative Koike Akira on March 4 was present at a House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting, holding a pile of papers in his hands. They were reminder notices and payment statements that had been sent from the city office to the man who committed suicide.

“Do you think this is okay that a young person chose to die rather than live because he couldn’t afford to pay premiums for the national health insurance program though it should have been there to protect his health and life?” Koike asked Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio. Hatoyama in reply said, “That was a case we shouldn’t have ignored.”

Insurance premiums are too high. Successive governments have cut the government share of contributions to the program. The only way to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again is for the government to increase its share in social welfare costs.

Yet, the government continues to claim that due to a financial crunch, it has been necessary to maintain the “lifeline” as long as possible and thus necessary to further increase insurance premiums along with stricter enforcement of collection, and if they cannot pay, the government has not hesitated to take away their insurance cards. The remainder notices that the city office was busy sending to collect insurance premiums may have been perceived as death threats to the man.
- Akahata, March 5, 2010
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved