DPJ to fast-track bill to fix pension fiasco

Hard evidence may not be needed to solve claims

Kyodo News

Seeking a speedy resolution to the problem of lost pension records, the Democratic Party of Japan, which will soon take the reins of government, plans to submit a bill this fall to allow people to supply the missing data without providing hard evidence, according to sources.

Given public concern about the issue, the DPJ decided against waiting until next year’s regular Diet session to address the problem caused by a government agency’s sloppy record management and go ahead with passing the bill during the upcoming extraordinary session.

Under the current system for correcting erroneous premium payment records, people must present “hard evidence,” such as pay receipts or their colleagues’ accounts.

But such terms have kept many of the 80,000 people whose records were lost, as confirmed by the internal affairs ministry, from recovering them, with only 40 percent having managed to correct their records so far. The 80,000, however, are believed to represent just the tip of the iceberg.

The DPJ also plans to require the government to take charge in collecting government-held data, including employment insurance records, to back up the claims. It will also be responsible for recovering any pension money paid out under false claims.

The government in 2007 revealed it could not identify who some 50.95 million pension records belonged to. The following year it found that over 1 million records had possibly been intentionally altered by officials of the Social Insurance Agency.

In its election campaign platform, the DPJ stated it would concentrate on trying to resolve the pension fiasco by fiscal 2011 and secure ¥200 billion to carry out the task.

The party also plans to submit a separate bill to suspend the establishment in January of a private organization that is scheduled to inherit the tasks of the SIA, saying the problem could become more difficult to resolve under a change in which public servants are replaced by private employees.

In March, the party, together with the Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), submitted a bill for easing the terms for correcting pension records. It cleared the opposition-controlled Upper House by majority vote but was scrapped when the Lower House was dissolved for an election.