社会保障改革 与謝野氏軸に政府案を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 21, 2011)
Govt must compile pension plan quickly
社会保障改革 与謝野氏軸に政府案を急げ(1月20日付・読売社説)

The nation's social security system has become highly distorted, due to the aging population and low birthrate.  社会保障制度は少子高齢化で、随所に歪(ゆが)みが生じている。

We must not waste any time reforming the system.

The government has decided to compile a plan with the ruling parties by June for integrated reform of the social security and tax systems, and it hopes to have discussions between the ruling and opposition parties over pension reform on track by then.

A system for promoting discussion appears to be in place--Kaoru Yosano, state minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, will be responsible for compiling the plan, and Koichiro Gemba, state minister in charge of national policy, will serve as the go-between for negotiations with the ruling and opposition parties.


Yosano opposed by many

Fierce opposition has arisen to Yosano's appointment as a Cabinet minister within both the ruling and opposition parties, as Yosano has strongly criticized the Democratic Party of Japan's stance on reform of the social security system in the past.

The only way for him to deal with such opposition is to swiftly and steadily achieve tangible results.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who recruited Yosano, must be prepared for the worst and create an environment in which Yosano can take bold steps.

The central points of discussion on social security system reform are the public pension system and the consumption tax.

The first step will be the government and the ruling parties' attempt to reach a consensus regarding the plan to reform the pension system.

Regarding the source of funds for pension reform, there is a strong opinion within the DPJ that as the party has been advocating a basic pension to be financed entirely by tax revenues, the DPJ's stance is utterly incompatible with that of Yosano, who wants to maintain the current method that uses contributions to social insurance.

Yet the DPJ has been subtly modifying its explanation of its pension reform plan from the one it drew up for its manifesto for the House of Representatives election in 2009, in which it came to power.

The party has modified its stance by saying that while the government should create a minimum guaranteed pension financed entirely by tax revenues, it should be a supplement to another new creation: a common national pension financed by social insurance contributions.
These two systems would comprise the basic pension.

Overall, the party is leaning toward using social insurance contributions.

Meanwhile, Yosano's pet idea is to fix the defects of the current system, financed by social insurance contributions, and then use tax revenues to implement supportive measures for people with small pensions.

It is a matter of balancing the use of social insurance contributions and tax revenues, and the two ideas overlap each other in many respects. A compromise is quite possible.

The government should win DPJ members' consent by discussing the issue, focusing on the realistic method of using social insurance contributions.


Ideas largely similar

The pension reform plans being considered by opposition parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito do not differ significantly from Yosano's ideas.

The only way to realize a sustainable pension system is to secure a stable source of financing by raising the consumption tax rate.

Both sides should be able to agree on these points during discussions.

Unless the public pension system is stable even several decades from now, public concern over the system will remain.

The ruling and opposition parties must work out a reform plan quickly, lest the system change every time there is a change of government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 20, 2011)
(2011年1月20日01時19分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-01-21 06:36 | 英字新聞

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