SIA can’t ID pension records of 20 million

About half of accounts may never be verified

Kyodo News

The Social Insurance Agency is having difficulty identifying some 19.75 million, or 38.8 percent, of the roughly 50 million public pension account holders whose records were mismanaged, SIA officials said Tuesday.

About 9.45 million of those accounts could end up remaining unidentifiable due to registration of false names and other reasons, including that many holders are believed to be dead, the officials said.

The latest finding, reported to a task force of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, could deal a blow to the administration of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda as the government and ruling parties have pledged to complete the identification of all those records by March 31, a timetable pledged by Fukuda’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

Fukuda stressed that the government hopes to work on the issue until “the last person” is identified, but he admitted this will be difficult.

As a result of a survey, the agency estimates it will be able to identify the holders of only about 11 million accounts by computer-based matching of name, birthday and sex with data under basic pension identification numbers, the officials said.

Of the 11 million, some 3 million could belong to current pension beneficiaries, who are in their 60s or older, and 8 million to other members of public pension programs, they said.

A breakdown of the 19.75 million accounts shows that 9.45 million require further identification efforts, including reference to registry books kept by each municipality, due to the incorrect input of data and recording of false names and other inaccurate information.

It also indicates identification would not be easy for 5.1 million due to changes in holders’ surnames after marriage and other reasons, for 2.4 million due to errors in converting names from kanji into kana, and for 2.8 million because the holders are now believed to be dead.

About 15.5 million accounts have been found to lead to no requirement to pay pensions because the holders were confirmed dead, or because of other reasons, the officials said.

The revelation of some 50.95 million unidentified pension accounts became a major political issue this year because the agency deferred work to integrate accounts of different pension programs under a single identification number per person that began in 1997.

Some people hold more than one account number due to changes in employment, marital status and other factors.

The pension debacle was one of the main reasons behind the crushing defeat of the LDP-New Komeito ruling bloc in the House of Councilors election in July.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference that the government has not pledged to complete the entire identification process by the end of March but admitted “simplified expressions” were used during the election campaign.

During an informal ministerial session following the day’s official Cabinet meeting, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe said his ministry will start next week sending a detailed history of payments to account holders to confirm whether payments have been accurately recorded.