Abe tries to reassure as council takes up social security reform

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday his Cabinet is fully committed to building a safe society as the government resumed discussions on reforming the social security system.

The National Council on Social Security System Reform, a panel established last year to discuss the matter, met for the first time since last month’s change of government. It will come up with recommendations by Aug. 21 on how the system, including pension and medical care for the elderly, should change.

Abe said the Cabinet is determined to push ahead with comprehensive social security and tax reform as agreed to by his Liberal Democratic Party, partner New Komeito and the opposition leading Democratic Party of Japan.

The council was established based on an agreement reached by the three parties last year when the DPJ was in power. Its 15 members, most of whom are academics, are supposed to discuss mainly pension, medical care, nursing care for the elderly and ways to address the falling birth rate.

The council held two meetings including the first one in November before its discussions were suspended due to the House of Representatives’ election in December in which the LDP took power.

The three parties held working-level talks on social security on Friday, agreeing to keep the council’s roster unchanged even after the change of government. The parties also agreed to continue talks among them about issues including pension and medical care for the elderly.

The LDP and Komeito want to basically keep the current systems unchanged for pension and medical care for the elderly, while the DPJ insists on creating a minimum guaranteed pension system and abolishing the current medical care system, which separates people aged 75 and over from others.