年金制度 甘い公約では改革が進まない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 13, 2012)
Campaign pledges weak on pension system reform
年金制度 甘い公約では改革が進まない(12月12日付・読売社説)

How will political parties maintain the nation's pension system, which is in a critical situation due to the declining birthrate and aging population? Their campaign pledges mainly call for expansion of pension benefits and lack specific measures.

Pension benefits have continued to swell as the population ages. However, revenue for premiums to fund the pension system has not increased because of a decline in the working population and a drop in wages because of the sluggish economy.

Despite this situation, the Liberal Democratic Party stresses the need to increase "benefits from welfare programs" for senior citizens receiving low pensions while maintaining the existing pension system.

In regard to the government's share of contributions to the basic pension fund, which was raised from one-third to half, the LDP pledges to make this ratio permanent by using revenue from the consumption tax.

If the LDP does this, the party should at the same time review the current situation in which taxpayers' money is used for high-income earners' basic pension at the same ratio as that for low-income earners.


Footing a large bill

The Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Mirai no To (Tomorrow Party of Japan) advocate the creation of a "guaranteed minimum pension," which would require greater financial resources, while New Komeito insists on providing additional pension benefits to people receiving low benefits.

If the benefits are expanded without asking people to shoulder a larger burden, taxpayers' money to be used to make up for the shortfall in resources will increase. Insisting on such an expansion is irresponsible.

If pension benefits are simply increased, future generations will end up footing the bill, widening the intergenerational disparity between the young and the elderly. Under the circumstances, we believe the nation's pension system will eventually collapse.

What is needed to ensure the stability of the pension system is to curb benefits.

In this regard, it is commendable that Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) is calling for "raising the pension eligibility age through creation of employment for the elderly" and that Your Party said it would "consider cutting pension benefits for high-income earners."

It is problematic, however, that the two parties advocate a "shift to a funded pension system."


Double burden

At present, we have a pay-as-you-go pension system, under which benefits for current pensioners are funded by premiums paid by the working population. If the system is shifted to a funded pension system, the nation's workforce would shoulder a double burden--paying premiums to provide benefits to the elderly as well as premiums to fund pensions they would receive after retirement.

Ishin no Kai advocates the creation of "a special inheritance tax to fund pension benefits," but the revenue raised by such a tax would be far short of what is needed. The party does not explain fully how adequate financial resources could be raised, as it does not want the social security system funded by the upcoming consumption tax hike.

To ensure stable financing of the pension system, many issues should be reviewed.

In 2004, a plan to lower pension levels was introduced in line with the decrease in the working population, but it has not been enforced. It is necessary to implement this plan at an early date.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 12, 2012)
(2012年12月12日01時22分  読売新聞)

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