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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday that employees’ pension benefits may fall to a level equivalent to about 50 percent of workers’ current annual take-home salaries.

Speaking on TV following the launch of campaigning for the Nov. 9 general election, Koizumi said that under pension reforms set to be implemented in fiscal 2004, workers should be forced to pay up to 10 percent of their annual pretax income in pension premiums.

“The system could not be maintained otherwise,” Koizumi said.

The pension covers employees at private companies and is one of the public pension programs whose operations involve the government.

The current benefit level of the employees’ pension system stands at 59 percent of the average annual income of male salaried workers.

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