National

DPJ bill to kill pension reform meets its expected Diet fate

The House of Representatives welfare committee on Wednesday voted down an opposition-sponsored bill designed to repeal pension reform legislation enacted in June.

The bill, submitted to the legislature Friday by the Democratic Party of Japan, was voted down by the majority held by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. Both parties support the government’s pension reform measures of raising premiums and cutting benefits to prop up the ailing public pension system.

Although the DPJ’s bill had been widely expected to fail, given the coalition’s majority, the party opted to submit it anyway, given the strong gains it made in last month’s House of Councilors election, during which it pledged to scrap the government’s highly unpopular pension reforms.

During Wednesday’s committee session, LDP lawmaker Yoshinori Ono admitted that the government’s pension reforms should have been more thoroughly deliberated in the Diet. But he said that “the finances of the pension system would be aggravated should (the legislation) be abolished.”

“There are things that should be done even if they run counter to the people’s will,” he said.

DPJ leader Katsuya Okada slammed the results of the committee vote.

“It is wrong (for the ruling coalition) to think it can get away with voting down the (DPJ) bill after holding only a one-day committee session and neglecting calls from 80 percent of the people to take the pension reforms back to the drawing board,” he said.

The DPJ bill called for scrapping the government’s pension reform plan and raising the state’s contributions to the basic public pension plan to 50 percent of the total by the end of fiscal 2008 from a third at present.

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