National

DPJ looks to repeal pension laws

The Democratic Party of Japan said Tuesday it will submit during the special Diet session that starts this week a bill aimed at repealing pension reform laws enacted in early June.

Executive DPJ members decided during a morning meeting to submit the bill quickly, reversing a previous decision not to present it until an extra Diet session in the fall, because the ruling bloc is seeking to hold the session that starts Friday for only four to five days and the bill would just be promptly voted down.

The about-face came as many participants at the meeting said the party should follow the will of the people as shown in the July 11 House of Councilors election, in which the DPJ increased its number of seats to 50, one seat more than was won by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The DPJ has demanded that the extra session continue for at least a month to discuss a number of issues, including pension reform and the troop deployment in Iraq, while the ruling LDP and its ally, New Komeito, have said it should last only four to five days in line with precedent.

Although the Cabinet decided Tuesday to convene the extraordinary Diet session Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said its duration has been left for lawmakers to discuss.

The DPJ bill aims for the repeal of the pension reform laws and to implement other reforms, including raising the rate of the government contribution to the basic pension from the current 30 percent to 50 percent by the end of March 2008.

The package of pension reform laws was enacted June 5 featuring a plan to raise premiums for public pension programs while reducing benefits for pensioners. The legislation is aimed at protecting the pension system from collapsing under the weight of the aging population and falling birthrate.

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