OITA (Kyodo) A Chinese woman who is a permanent resident of Japan filed a lawsuit Friday after the Oita Prefectural Government refused to review its decision to reject her welfare application, which was made based on the premise that foreign residents do not have the right to collect welfare benefits.

The 77-year-old, who grew up in Japan and resides in Oita Prefecture, filed the suit with the Oita District Court seeking to overturn the Oita Prefectural Government’s decision, claiming that a refusal based on nationality violates her right to equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.

It is rare for people with permanent resident status to sue for recognition of the right to apply for welfare benefits, her lawyer said.

The Japanese welfare law states that all citizens will be provided the necessary protection according to the level of their needs, but the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry does not recognize foreign nationals, who are not regarded as citizens of Japan under the nationality law, as eligible to apply for welfare benefits.

The woman claims permanent residents should be granted the same rights as Japanese because she pays taxes and leads her life just like any other Japanese.

In February, she asked the Oita Prefectural Government, which rejected her application after determining she had sufficient savings, to review its decision.

But Oita rejected her request, saying its decisions on welfare benefits for foreign nationals are not subject to requests for review, as stated in the administrative appeal act.

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