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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 December 24 - 2015 January 6  > Osaka City will closely monitor the needy
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2014 December 24 - 2015 January 6 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Osaka City will closely monitor the needy

December 28 & 30, 2014
The Osaka City government, in cooperation with a credit-card company, is seeking to monitor and control what welfare recipients spend their livelihood protection benefits on. Experts warn that the plan will encroach on their fundamental human rights.

Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto Toru on December 26 announced that the city will launch the nation’s first model project providing a portion of livelihood assistance benefits with prepaid cards for living expenses, including food. By doing this, “Caseworkers should give guidance to welfare recipients (on usage details),” said the mayor.

Osaka City will hook up with Mitsui Sumitomo Card Company, and residents receiving welfare benefits will use that card to buy items at VISA-affiliated stores. The city will set a per-day limit and restrict card transactions to specific items. The project will start in April.

Kuroda Mitsuru, an expert in municipality policy studies, said, “The project may infringe on constitutional rights by determining how individuals can best use their welfare benefits.”

* * *

The Ministry of Welfare on the same day also indicated that it will reduce the amount of aid for housing for winter heating bills of welfare recipients from fiscal 2015 although overall livelihood assistance benefits were already cut by up to 10% in 2013.

The current amount of the winter season supplement is not enough for some people living on welfare benefits in cold regions, and the planned cuts may threaten their lives.

In fact, many members of the Social Security Council panel on livelihood protection standards admitted, “For recipients in cold regions, the winter season supplement is the very lifeline that cannot be reduced any more.”

Government data on housing of welfare recipients show that their housing environment is worse than that of ordinary citizens. The Ministry of Welfare itself reports that their living floor space falls far short of the minimum housing standard the government sets as a basic level necessary for wholesome and cultured living.

Past related articles:
> Meeting held in Osaka to defend welfare recipients’ right to live [August 13, 2014]
> Welfare recipients receive less benefits [August 4, 2014]
> Osaka drives welfare applicants away using illegal methods: anti-poverty group [June 7, 2014]
> Public opinion stops gov’t welfare program from shutting out the need [April 20, 2014]
> More than 10,000 families file complaints against cuts in welfare benefits [October 12, 2013]
> Largest-ever number of households lives on welfare [October 3, 2013]
> Welfare recipients nationwide file complaints against cuts in benefit [September 18, 2013]

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