Technical glitch in law may stop extra pension payments for some

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The government admitted Wednesday that the recently revised law covering pensions for corporate workers contains a technical error that could prevent some senior citizens from receiving additional benefits.

The mistake could affect the benefits for pensioners with a spouse younger than 65 years old or children younger than 18.

The number of such pensioners currently totals more than 3 million, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The error is likely to be a political headache for the government, because opposition lawmakers will no doubt use it to call for scrapping the contentious pension reform scheme.

The problem arose as the government-sponsored legislation added four clauses to the basic law for the “kosei nenkin” pension system for salaried workers.

The clauses, which are designed to curb benefits in accordance with possible macroeconomic changes, were inserted between Article 43 and Article 44 of the law, the health ministry said.

Article 44 determines the amount of the additional benefits by referring to Article 43 as “the previous Article.”

The insertion of the four clauses has made unclear the meaning of the “previous Article,” the ministry said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said the government is thinking of correcting the error by posting a notice on the official government gazette, rather than by revising the law.

“It is no doubt a careless mistake,” Hosoda said during a news conference.

But he also said the government will have to consult with the steering committees in both Diet chambers before deciding how to handle the problem.