• Kyodo

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The local chapter of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) and the local headquarters of the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) on Monday jointly asked the Hyogo Prefectural Government to raise welfare benefits for elderly minority residents to match those of Japanese.

In 1982, the central government abolished a nationality clause from the National Pension Law, allowing ethnic minorities, whom Tokyo refers to as longtime foreign residents, to receive senior welfare pensions and those with disabilities to receive basic disability pensions.

However, a supplementary provision in the law stipulates that those age 20 or older when the clause was abolished are not entitled to receive the pension.

Because of the supplementary provision, many of these residents do not receive pensions from the state. But more than 500 municipalities in Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Shiga, Osaka, Tottori, Shimane and Hyogo prefectures have established a separate system to provide them with financial assistance.

According to the request, most municipalities in Hyogo Prefecture provide aged minorities in good health with monthly benefits of 10,000 yen to 15,000 yen and those with disabilities 20,000 yen to 46,000 yen, in accordance with the separate system.

There were 125 disabled ethnic minorities and 1,772 others eligible for such benefits in the prefecture as of March.

However, the prefecture provides aged Japanese not entitled to receive pensions before the enactment of the pension law with senior welfare pension benefits of about 34,000 yen monthly, while those with disabilities receive 84,000 yen monthly.

The groups asked the prefecture to eliminate discrimination between minorities and Japanese, and to raise benefits for ethnic minorities to match those of Japanese.

It is the first time for the two groups to make a joint request concerning local administrative policies. The two groups had submitted requests on the issue separately, officials of the groups said.

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