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A former health and welfare vice minister and his wife were found dead on the morning of Nov. 18, and the wife of another former health and welfare vice minister was seriously injured when stabbed by a man on the evening of the same day. Mr. Takehiko Yamaguchi and his wife Michiko were found murdered with several stab wounds to their chests in the entranceway of their house in Saitama. Ms. Yasuko Yoshihara, the wife of Mr. Kenji Yoshihara, suffered stab wounds in the chest and back when attacked by a man impersonating a parcel delivery person, also in the entranceway of their house in Nakano Ward, Tokyo.

The possibility cannot be ruled out that these crimes were carefully planned and committed by the same person. Since both Mr. Yamaguchi and Mr. Yoshihara are credited with working out the framework of the current pension system, the criminal may have had bitter resentments about pension-related matters. Investigators point to the possibility that the crimes are serial terror attacks with political implications against former top ministry bureaucrats. Such crimes cannot be condoned by society and police must do their utmost to arrest the perpetrator, delve into the background and prevent recurrence.

In preparing for the 1985 revision of the Pension Law, Mr. Yoshihara served as director general of the then Health and Welfare Ministry’s Pension Bureau. Mr. Yamaguchi worked under him as chief of the ministry’s Pension Division. They devised the kiso nenkin (basic pension) system. Mr. Yoshihara served as head of the Social Insurance Agency before becoming vice minister. Mr. Yamaguchi served as head of the Pension Bureau before becoming vice minister.

Irregularities recently surfaced with the nation’s pension system. Some 50 million pension-premium payment records were found to contain data that obscured the identity of the account holders. Around 69,000 cases have surfaced in which records of monthly salaries for company workers are suspected of being falsified. Despite strong public dissatisfaction at irregularities and defects of the pension system, however, any move to use violence as a means of venting one’s anger cannot be tolerated.

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