Abe, two of his ministers to forgo bonus

by Hiroko Nakata

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki and Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa will forgo their summer bonuses as Cabinet ministers to take responsibility for the pension record fiasco, it was announced Monday.

The move is apparently aimed at easing public anger over the scandal involving the Social Insurance Agency ahead of the House of Councilors election next month.

They will still take their bonuses as Diet members.

According to Shiozaki, Abe will not accept the 2.34 million yen bonus he is due as prime minister. Abe had earlier announced he would forgo 1.61 million yen of the total as part of the government’s administrative reform efforts.

He will still get roughly 3 million yen as a member of the House of Representatives. Lawmakers receive a bonus in both summer and winter.

Shiozaki will give up the 940,000 yen summer bonus for his Cabinet post, while Yanagisawa will forgo 896,000 yen. Both will still accept their lawmaker bonuses.

Revelations that the Social Insurance Agency mishandled 50 million pension premium records has not only outraged the public but also placed Abe in a difficult position ahead of the July 29 election, in which he is forecast to face an uphill battle in maintaining the ruling coalition’s majority in the Upper House.

“People are really angry at the SIA’s handling of the pension-record problem. Given the situation, I judged that I need to take responsibility,” Abe told reporters later in the day.

SIA chief Kiyose Murase said he will give up the entire amount of his summer bonus, or about 2.7 million yen, while urging all agency staff and former employees to forgo half their summer bonuses.

For more stories related to the pension fiasco.