企業年金改革 多くの人が活用できる制度に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Make corporate pension programs accessible for more employees
企業年金改革 多くの人が活用できる制度に

It is important to make many people eligible to participate in corporate pension programs, as a means of supplementing public pensions.

A bill to reform the corporate pension system is under deliberation at the House of Representatives. The government aims to get the bill passed into law during the current Diet session.

The central pillar of the bill is to review the defined contribution pension system, in which subscribers choose how their pension premiums should be managed, with the amount of their pension benefits to be determined by the results.

The bill calls for establishing “simplified defined contribution pension plans,” with the establishment procedures to be simplified so as to make it easier for even small and midsize corporations to introduce them for their employees.

The bill also envisages creating a system to support the subscription of more people, by creating “individual-type defined contribution pension plans” for employees of companies unable to have such plans on their own and for self-employed people. Under this system, corporations, if only small and midsized firms, can add their contributions to their employees’ pension premiums.

A corporate pension plan is a program to be established by each corporation voluntarily in addition to the kosei nenkin corporate employees pension scheme, part of the nation’s public pension system.

As the level of benefits paid under the public pension system declines against the backdrop of a low birthrate and a graying population, the role of corporate pension plans is growing.

It is appropriate for the corporate pension plan to be utilized by workers other than only those at big companies.

At present, among subscribers to the kosei nenkin scheme, fewer than 40 percent also participate in corporate pension programs. And the ratio of companies that have introduced corporate pension programs is declining. Among smaller firms, with 30 to 99 employees, only 18.6 percent have introduced such programs.

Major programs dissolving

On top of this, kosei nenkin kikin (corporate employees’ pension funds), which once were the leading corporate pension programs, are to be dissolved, with certain exceptions, by March 2019. Faced with management difficulty following the collapse of the bubble economy, one corporate employees’ pension fund after another became unable to stay afloat. As leading companies have pulled out of their schemes swiftly, most of the pension funds still operating are ones formed by smaller firms.

It is an open question whether the reform will be sufficient to help those who will no longer be covered by corporate employees’ pension funds after they are dissolved. It is necessary to try one way after another to promote the spread of the corporate pension plans envisaged by the bill, while assessing the status of the introduction of schemes such as “simplified defined contribution pension plans.”

Also incorporated in the bill is an expansion of the scope of people eligible to participate in “individual-type defined contribution pension plans,” by making full-time homemakers and public-service workers also eligible. In effect, anyone will be able to participate in defined contribution pension schemes.

As working styles have diversified, voluntary resignations and job-switching have become common. The number of nonregular workers who are not eligible to participate in corporate pension plans has also increased.

We can understand the course of action to encourage people’s self-help efforts for their post-retirement years, by providing everyone with a means of supplementing the roles of public pensions.

Open to question is the idea of making even homemakers eligible to participate in “individual-type defined contribution pension plans,” which offer preferential tax treatment, while keeping in place the system of “Category III insured,” under which a dependent spouse of a company or government employee is eligible for basic pension benefits without paying pension premiums themselves. Will the envisaged plan give them excessive preferential treatment?

Regarding nonregular workers, it is also vital to attempt to increase pension benefits for them, by expanding the scope of nonregular workers eligible to participate in the kosei nenkin scheme.

It is important to discuss income security for people in their old age within the framework of the whole pension system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2015)Speech

by kiyoshimat | 2015-08-28 12:47 | 英字新聞

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