Mass lawsuits being prepared against welfare benefit cuts

JIJI, Kyodo

Advocates for people on welfare plan to file group lawsuits against municipalities nationwide to nullify benefit cuts the central government plans to start in August.

The supporters, including lawyers and a citizens’ group, have set up a preparatory body for the lawsuits. They plan to argue that the welfare cuts violate Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees a minimum standard of living.

The litigants will call for welfare recipients to participate, and demand that local administrative authorities review their decisions to reduce welfare benefits once the cuts begin. The group aims to file review requests for 10,000 recipients. If the requests are rejected, it will sue on behalf of around 10 percent of them.

The suits could develop into one of the largest ever welfare-related suits, lead lawyer Hiroki Bito said Monday.

The suits will also contend that the benefit cuts run counter to the Constitution’s Article 25 that guarantees people’s right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultivated living, Bito said.

The central government is scheduled to cut livelihood assistance to cover essential expenses for daily living, including food, by 6.5 percent on average and up to 10 percent over three years.

The cuts will be the largest since 1950, when the current public assistance system was adopted.