Recovering lost pension records faces difficult road

JIJI

The government is stepping up efforts to rectify the sloppy handling of pension records, aiming to make progress by the end of the current fiscal year.

In the roughly six years that have passed since the loss of some 50.95 million pension records came to light, trust in the public pension system has quickly eroded.

During that span, the government and Japan Pension Service have since been cross-checking paper records against data stored in computer systems.

As of December, the investigation had resolved some 28.95 million cases and recovered records for about 13.24 million people, resulting in pension payments since May 2008 rising by ¥84 billion.

With some 22 million cases still unresolved, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government is working to recover records for “as many people as possible.”

But with little or no information on many of the remaining 22 million cases, it will be extremely difficult for Japan Pension Service alone to recover more records.

The pension records debacle is a challenge that has continued to vex Abe, as the problem first surfaced during his 2006-2007 stint as prime minister.

The Democratic Party of Japan, which was defeated by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in last December’s Lower House election, pledged to bring a settlement of the pension record problem into sight by the end of fiscal 2013 on March 31 of next year.

The target remains in place under the current LDP-New Komeito ruling coalition.

“We would like to complete the work by the end of fiscal 2013,” said Keigo Masuya, senior vice minister of health, labor and welfare.

In January, Japan Pension Service launched a campaign calling for individuals to reconfirm their pension records.

“It is important for individuals to come forward” if they think their pension records may have been mismanaged, a senior welfare ministry official said.

The organization has been distributing information via its website and brochures on how lost records may be found as well as help for individuals who have changed jobs or names or whose names can be read in different ways.

It is also upgrading its Internet-based Nenkin (pension) Net service so that people can check on lost records by inputting their names, birthdays and other personal data.