Gov't proposes reforms in 5 areas to achieve 'secure' society
posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 11:48 AM
A government expert panel proposed to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Monday that Japan needs to reform five areas centering on employment in order to construct a ‘‘secure’’ society amid widening social and financial disparities.
To achieve a secure society, consensus building would be needed on costs and their financial resources, the 15-member panel said in a report, indicating that discussions will be needed on raising the nation’s consumption tax rate to finance the measures.
The report said, ‘‘If it becomes clear that the tax burden would be used for specific benefits in return, it would be a great help to dispel distrust (in social security) and build consensus to strengthen social security,’’ the report said without specifically mentioning the timing and scale of the consumption tax hike.
‘‘It is definitely true that Japan’s tax burden rate is low. We cannot allow any delay in squarely discussing the tax burden issue including the consumption tax,’’ Hiroshi Yoshikawa, professor at the University of Tokyo, said at the meeting.
To realize a secure society, the panel called for reforms in five areas—employment, child rearing, education, medical care and pensions, with employment being the central axis in a coordinated reform of all five areas.
The report called for enhancing support not only for the elderly but also younger generations in areas such as employment in order to provide ‘‘unbroken’’ social security.
To provide support for younger people, the report called on the government to implement such measures as giving benefits to low-income households and expanding social insurance for non-regular employees in the next three years.
‘‘It is important to provide (social) security for young people and the generations who are still working,’’ Aso said at the meeting, noting that the social security coverage has been overly concentrated on the elderly.
Education reform will lead to the creation of a society that supports long-term employment, while stable employment will enhance security in post-retirement years, the report said, adding that improving medical care would lead to the nurturing of the next generation.
The panel also called on the government to implement emergency measures including alleviating the burden associated with receiving advanced education, introducing a social security number and realigning administrative bodies.
In seeking a secure society, the panel said the country should construct a distinct ‘‘Japanese free-market economy’’ that integrates social equity and a market economy, referencing an apparent departure from a U.S.-style market economy.
The prime minister plans to have the report reflected in the government’s basic policies for fiscal management and to have some parts included in the Liberal Democratic Party’s manifesto for the upcoming House of Representatives election.