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New pension plan plagued by administrative mistakes

Date Posted: 2008-06-20

Anger over the April introduction of a new pension plan that includes taking medical insurance premiums from elderly citizens has escalated, as dozens of errors by government agencies have further hurt the targeted group.

Changes to the pension program, which had been untouched for more than 75 years, were directed by the central government, stipulating that costs of medical insurance premiums be automatically withheld from the pensions of people 75 years of age or older. There was opposition to the change even before it was implemented, with the Democratic Party of Japan demanding “Let’s abolish this new system. Nobody likes it.”

More than 100 demonstrators staged a sit-in in front of Prefecture Hall last Friday, led by the Social Security Promotion Committee Group. Group chairman Yasuo Shinzato said “the opposition party won the Prefecture Assembly election, so now the government should listen to Okinawan people and their opinions.”

Shinzato says “the government should abolish the system of withholding money from pensions. There should be no discrimination.” He asks “do you want people over 75 to die away?”

In the initial April and May accounting months, four municipalities made mistakes involving 74 pensioner cases. Officials scrambled to claim “there are always some mistakes when somebody starts a new system.” Most, officials say, were simple mistakes by staff, and one was a typing mistake. Another was a computer error.

The worst case came in Onna Village. The village office errors were several, with officials withdrawing money three times from the pension money account from one individual.

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