Anational conference for social welfare reform, an advisory body based on a law enacted in August with the support of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, was inaugurated Nov. 30 with 15 scholars and experts serving as its members.

The advisory body is to discuss pension, medical services, nursing care services for the elderly and ways to cope with the declining birthrate, and then submit a proposal to the government by Aug. 21, 2013. The biggest problem for Japan's social welfare system is that while its spending rises each year, the footing for funding is weak. It may be necessary to increase people's financial burden in the form of higher social insurance premiums or taxes, and to decrease social welfare benefits for high-income people.

The advisory body should strive to come up with a convincing proposal that will ensure the sustainability of the nation's social welfare system while clarifying the relationship between people's financial burdens and social welfare benefits.