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An advisory panel proposed Thursday that lawmakers’ annual pension-plan contributions be raised by more than 70 percent over four years and their annual benefits be cut by 30 percent.

The proposal comes on the heels of criticism last year that lawmakers were giving themselves fat pension benefits and state subsidies for their plan, while passing laws to cut pension benefits for the public.

Some lawmakers were also discovered to have made no national pension plan payments for long periods.

The research council on Diet members’ pensions proposed that state subsidies to the parliamentary pension plan be reduced from the 72.7 percent allotted in the fiscal 2004 budget to 50.0 percent over four years, a level roughly in line with the subsidies expected for the national pension plan in fiscal 2009.

Under the national pension plan, it takes up to 12 years for a pensioner to accumulate benefits equal to the amount paid into the plan, compared with only three years in the lawmakers’ pension plan.

The panel estimated that if the changes take effect, it would take lawmakers nine years for their total benefits to equal contributions.

The council, led by Tadayoshi Nakajima, former president of the National Personnel Authority, presented the proposal to House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono and House of Councilors President Chikage Ogi.

Nakajima said the plan “was made principally to address criticism from the public.”

Both houses of the Diet are expected to accept the panel’s recommendations and begin preparations to enact legislation in the regular Diet session that begins Friday.

Currently, lawmakers are eligible for an annual Diet pension of 4.12 million yen at the age of 65 provided they have served in the Diet for 10 years and paid 1.27 million yen per year in contributions.

The proposal calls for increasing lawmakers’ annual contributions to roughly 2.2 million yen, up 74 percent from the current level, over four years from the date legislation is enacted.

The panel wants to tighten eligibility for benefits to require a stint of at least 12 years and lower the minimum annual payment to 2.88 million yen.

The panel also recommended that the benefit increments based on the number of years a lawmaker has served be cut and the maximum number of years be lowered to 30 from 50.

This means the annual benefits for a lawmaker who had served 50 years would be trimmed to 3.92 million yen from 7.42 million yen.

The panel proposed no changes to benefits for former parliamentarians who already draw a pension and the families of deceased Diet members.

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