National

Revised law toughens penalties for welfare cheats

Kyodo

The Diet on Friday enacted the revised daily life protection law, which includes tougher punishment for those who fraudulently claim benefits while also seeking to shift some of the state’s financial burden onto relatives of claimants.

It was the first significant revision of the law since its implementation in 1950. Most parts of the amended version will enter into force next July.

Under the revised law, welfare fraud will result in fines of up to ¥1 million, up from the current maximum of ¥300,000. Offenders will be liable for financial penalties in addition to refunds.

Intended to encourage support by kin, the law now also enables welfare offices to ask relatives of benefits applicants why they cannot support them. In addition, welfare applicants are required to submit in person documentation of their assets and income.

As of August, around 2.16 million people were on welfare across the nation. Starting that month, the government reduced welfare payments for approximately 96 percent of eligible households.

A law has also been enacted to encourage self-reliance among poor households, requiring local governments to open consultation windows for them. It will be implemented in April 2015.

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