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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 October 1 - 7  > Supreme Court unfairly denies extra benefits for elderly on welfare
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2014 October 1 - 7 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Supreme Court unfairly denies extra benefits for elderly on welfare

October 7, 2014
The Supreme Court on October 7 rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that the government’s decision to abolish additional benefits for welfare recipients aged 70 years old and over was unconstitutional and that additional benefits should be reinstated.

This court judgment was given to plaintiffs who filed the so-called “right to live” lawsuits with district courts in Kyoto and Fukuoka.

The government abolished the supplementary benefits for the elderly on welfare in stages between 2004 and 2006 on the grounds that an increase in social security spending, including payments for people on welfare, constitute heavy financial burdens on the state. Arguing that the government’s decision violates the constitutional right to live, more than 100 people have filed lawsuits with nine district courts across the country, calling for the reinstatement of supplementary benefits.

The top court ruling concludes that adverse impacts of the abolition of the additional benefits were socially acceptable, ignoring the plaintiffs’ argument that they are forced to accept poor housing conditions and a less healthy diet, and have to give up social activities.

After the ruling, the plaintiffs, their lawyers, and supporters held a rally with around 70 people taking part.

Lawyer Bitou Hiroki criticized the court decision for being too sympathetic to the arguments by the administration.

One of the plaintiffs, an 89-year-old man from Kyoto City, said that with an additional benefit of 20,000 yen, he used to enjoy day trips or movies once or twice a year, but all he can do now is to eat, sleep, and watch TV. The court seems to think that this meets “the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living” guaranteed under the Constitution, he said.

Agata Yoshihiro, the chair of the All Japan Federation of Organizations for the Protection of Life and Health which supports “right to live” lawsuits, said, “The government is seeking to further reduce welfare benefits, such as support for rent. Learning from our past struggles, we should renew our efforts to increase our movement for our right to live.”

Past related article
> Court unfairly rejects claim for extra benefits for the elderly on welfare [March 25, 2014]
> High court supports abolition of additional welfare benefits for elderly [December 17, 2013]
> Niigata court rejects claim to reinstate additional benefits for elderly [December 16, 2012]
> Supreme Court turns down citizens’ call for ‘right to live’ [April 3, 2012]
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