Uproar over $185,000 shortfall puts Japan pension reform on hold
Nikkei -- Jun 13
A public uproar has forced the government to retract a controversial report claiming that retired couples reliant on public pensions also need sizable savings, but this backpedaling could further delay Japan's much needed reckoning with the overburdened program.

The report compiled by a Financial Services Agency council earlier this month showed that a household with a 65-year-old husband and a 60-year-old wife would need an additional 20 million yen ($184,000) in assets if they live another 30 years. The FSA's aim was to encourage people to start building nest eggs early, but a political storm ensued, with opposition lawmakers railing against the government for "failing the people."

Under pressure, Finance Minister Taro Aso opted for the unusual move of rejecting the report Tuesday, saying it had caused "uncertainty and misunderstanding."

Ruling party lawmakers also joined the chorus of criticism. "The anxiety about retirement has deepened among the people," Hiroshi Moriyama, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Diet affairs chief, said Wednesday, criticizing the report.

Many see the need for an honest debate over what to do with a public pension system faced with surging outlays as Japan's population ages. But as lawmakers realize this is a political minefield, proposed reforms that would cut current benefits to shift some of the burden away from future retirees look even less likely to gain traction.

The government's draft economic and fiscal policy released this month states that the age at which basic pension benefits begin will not be raised from 65, a change that some -- including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- have suggested to rein in costs.

It also calls for reviewing the system under which employed seniors receive reduced benefits. While this would remove an economic disincentive discouraging seniors from working, it would also increase spending on pensions.

Pension benefits account for 66% of the average income of those aged 65 or older, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey.

News source: Nikkei
Sep 21
A large severe tropical storm is approaching Japan and expected to gain strength. It may affect wide areas across the country over the three-day weekend. (NHK)
Sep 21
The Rugby World Cup has kicked off in Japan. It's the first time an Asian country has hosted the tournament. (NHK)
Sep 21
Saitama Prefectural Police launched a murder investigation following the discovery of the body of a missing boy, 9, at an apartment block in Saitama City early Wednesday, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Sept. 18). (tokyoreporter.com)
Sep 21
A court awarded damages Wednesday to a woman in her 30s who broke up with her same-sex partner because of infidelity, recognizing their common-law partnership despite same-sex marriage not being legal in the country. (Japan Times)
Sep 21
A new terminal for low-cost carriers opened at Chubu Centrair International Airport near Nagoya on Friday, raising expectations of growth in the number of foreign visitors to the Chubu region. (Japan Times)
Sep 20
A Japanese district court has found all three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company not guilty in the only criminal prosecution stemming from the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima. (NHK)
Sep 20
A growing number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has helped push up commercial land prices throughout the country. (NHK)
Sep 20
E-commerce giant Amazon Japan has announced it will launch a locker delivery service called Amazon Hub at the major convenience store chain FamilyMart and train stations along the Odakyu line. (Japan Today)
Sep 19
The operator of a private-sector English proficiency test began accepting applications Wednesday for its tests that will serve as a component of Japan’s new standardized university entrance exam. (Japan Times)
Sep 19
Newly appointed Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Wednesday that Tokyo urgently demands Seoul eliminate “violations of international law” regarding wartime Korean labor issues, adding that it is a top priority for Japan in handling the bilateral relationship. (Japan Times)