Welfare ruling stuns foreigners
Japan Times -- Jul 20
Friday's landmark decision by the Supreme Court that permanent foreign residents of Japan are not entitled to welfare benefits will discourage more municipalities than ever from doling out such aid amid ballooning public assistance expenditures, experts said Saturday.

Responding to a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese resident of Oita, the top court stated in the first ruling of its kind that, legally speaking, permanent foreign residents don't qualify for public assistance because they aren't considered Japanese nationals.

The ruling is significant in that it finally clarifies whether permanent residents are eligible to claim welfare. For years, municipalities have been distributing welfare payments to financially needy foreigners with permanent or long-term residency status, including the spouses of Japanese and migrant workers from Brazil.

Municipalities have been granting aid at their own discretion after being advised to do so from a "humanitarian" point of view by the central government in 1954. But that never meant foreigners actually qualified for the aid like Japanese. Although they could apply for it, they had no recourse if turned down, because the way the municipalities see it, welfare payments had never been foreigners' legal right to claim.

The verdict legally enshrines this de facto state of affairs, making it official that foreign residents have no legal basis to claim eligibility for public assistance.

From now on, foreign residents will still be free to apply for welfare payments but will likely face slimmer odds of receiving them, experts said.

永住資格を持つ外国人に生活保護を受ける権利があるか争われた裁判で、最高裁は、外国­人も受給対象になるとした判断を取り消す初めての判決を下しました。 日本に永住資格を持つ大分市の中国籍の女性は2008年、市に生活保護の申請をしまし­たが却下されました。
News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
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