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Japan’s four major business groups called on the government Thursday to resubmit at the extraordinary Diet session set to start next week a bill to introduce a defined-contribution pension system as an option for salaried workers.

The bill was scrapped when the Lower House was dissolved in June for elections.

According to a statement calling for an early introduction of the system, which was adopted by participants in a meeting Thursday, the scheme would help companies reduce their pension burden and allow workers to have a say in their pension programs.

The new system, modeled after the 401(k) system in the U.S., enables workers to choose from various investment options, with their benefits depending on the results of these investments.

Current Japanese public and corporate pension plans basically guarantee fixed benefits, while the premium payment burden for workers is equally shared by employees and employers.

Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren), said that since many companies are struggling to secure funds for their corporate pensions amid the sluggish economy, there is a growing need for an alternative option like the defined-contribution scheme to support Japan’s rapidly aging society.

Thursday’s meeting was jointly hosted by Nikkeiren, the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai).

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