found it extremely important to regain public trust in the administration of the pension system.”

A bill submitted Tuesday to the Diet stipulates that the five-year limit, which prevents people from receiving pension money that was due more than five years ago, is abolished. According to Yanagisawa, this bill will help get 95 billion yen to the 250,000 people who are owed. The amount is expected to swell as more records are identified.

But the opposition parties argued that much remains unknown about the records of the 50 million premium payments and the bill does not resolve the problem. Despite strong demands for further deliberations, the ruling coalition rammed the bill through the Lower House welfare committee Wednesday.

“So much (of the pension issue) is still left in the dark and I am doubtful about how effective this bill will actually be” for the victims, the DPJ’s Takaki said. Pension issues always rank near the top of voter interest in pre-election surveys and with the July Upper House election approaching, the passage of the bills is seen as crucial for the LDP.

The unilateral action by the LDP and New Komeito has triggered public outrage at a time when the ruling bloc is reeling from the suicide of agriculture minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who had been heavily criticized for reporting enormous sums in “office expenses” despite using a rent-free state office.

The other two bills are related to reforming the Social Insurance Agency.

The ruling-opposition tension is expected to continue until the July 22 poll.

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