The government plans to reduce the spending for livelihood assistance known as seikatsu hogo (literally livelihood protection) in the fiscal 2013 budget and has started a review of the system. Because cases involving the illegal or questionable receipt of welfare benefits have cropped up and benefits are higher than the levels of legal minimum wages in some areas, the political bashing of livelihood assistance has become popular and pressure to slash benefits is likely to increase.

The Liberal Democratic Party calls for reducing benefits by 10 percent and providing certain services instead of cash. But political leaders and bureaucrats must remember that livelihood assistance is the last layer in the nation’s social safety net, which was devised based on Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees “the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living” and requires the government to promote social welfare, social security and public health.

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