ねんきん定期便 制度改革の議論につなげたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 5, 2009)
New pension notice could prompt reforms
ねんきん定期便 制度改革の議論につなげたい(4月5日付・読売社説)

Regular and careful checks of your pension information serve as the most basic way of ensuring you will receive accurate pension payouts.

The government has decided to send out pension information records to every holder of a public pension policy just once a year, in the month their birthday falls. The mailout is called a "nenkin teikibin," or regular pension coverage notice.

The "nenkin tokubetsubin" (pension coverage special notice) that was sent to everyone with a public pension policy until the end of last year served as an emergency information notice--part of an effort to track down the holders of about 50 million unidentified pension account records.


System too complicated

The new annual notice is designed to allow current public pension program holders to confirm the details of their pensions with the government. Therefore, they include far more information than appeared on the special notice.

As we cannot fully trust information kept by the Social Insurance Agency, each one of us must carefully check the information we receive.

The biggest difference between the special notice and the regular notice is that the latter includes the standard monthly salary earned by salaried workers for the period they are or were in an employees pension program--an estimate, updated each year, of every salaried worker's average monthly earnings, on which pension benefits will be calculated.

There must be few people who can remember what they earned decades ago.

Still, you must carefully check to see if, for example, your salary is shown to have sharply declined at one point, even though you do not remember ever taking a pay cut. In such a case, it is highly likely that the company you were working at or a social insurance office made mistakes or intentionally tampered with your data.

But there are upper and lower limits listed for the amount of standard monthly salaries. Getting to grips with the entries in the regular pension coverage notice requires considerable knowledge of the national pension system.

Why is the system so complicated and hard to understand? That must be the feeling of most people who will receive the notice.

That the regular public notice will be hard for the public to understand might sound ironic, but it could prove to be a point of major significance.

Through close checks of the regular notices, we may come to understand the pension system's complexities and defects. We may also come to recognize the importance of appropriate management of information and of having a workable confirmation system. The new system must be treated as a prime opportunity to promote discussion on pension system reform and on the introduction of a social security number system.

Efforts to correct pension record errors and ensure pension holders' rights have faced significant hurdles.

The holders of only 20 percent of the 50 million or so unidentified pension account records have been discovered so far.

A third-party committee tasked with officially classifying pension record errors as mistakes has been overwhelmed by the number of claims.
Even after such records have been corrected, it has taken about a year for people to receive the correct amount of pension benefits.


No time to waste

The government's advisory panel on the ideal administration of health, labor and welfare policy has proposed a temporary personnel increase to solve the pension records problem.
Taking this proposal into consideration, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is to increase the level of staff involved in works concerning the problem from the current 8,000 to a temporary level of more than 10,000.

However, the key word here is "temporary." They will have to tackle the problem intensively and proceed with clerical work swiftly.

If time is wasted, it will be impossible to regain the public's confidence in the pension system, and the only outcome will have been a swelling of employee numbers at the ministry and Social Insurance Agency.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 5, 2009)
(2009年4月5日01時32分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-05 10:24 | 英字新聞

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