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
Jun 26
The US State Department has denied a media report that President Donald Trump privately mentioned pulling his country out of a security pact with Japan. (NHK)
Jun 26
Japan's space agency says it will try to have the Hayabusa2 space probe make a second landing on the asteroid Ryugu next month. (NHK)
Jun 26
Graffiti was found Tuesday morning on a stone wall that surrounds the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo, where Emperor Naruhito and his family reside, police said. (Japan Times)
Jun 26
Pope Francis is set to make a four-day trip to Japan this November. It will be the first papal visit to the country since John Paul II came in 1981. (NHK)
Jun 25
Police in Japan are implementing the highest-level security measures for the G20 Osaka Summit, which starts on Friday. (NHK)
Jun 25
A slug has been blamed for a power outage that halted dozens of trains and delayed 12,000 passengers in the Kyushu region, operator Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) has said. (Japan Times)
Jun 24
Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa has held a ceremony to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the end of a fierce ground battle during the final stages of World War Two. (NHK)
Jun 24
Former Empress Michiko has undergone cataract surgery on both of her eyes, the Imperial Household Agency said Sunday. (Japan Today)
Jun 24
A Japanese man convicted of assault and theft was arrested Sunday in Yokosuka, near Tokyo, four days after he escaped attempts to take him into custody. (Japan Today)
Jun 23
Junior high school students have become slightly more open to the use of marijuana, in part due to the influence of the internet, an official survey suggests. (Japan Times)