Two panels of the health and welfare ministry’s Social Security Council have submitted separate reports on their respective studies of livelihood assistance for the poor, known as seikatsu hogo (literally livelihood protection). On the basis of the reports, the health and welfare ministry reportedly plans to reduce the core assistance benefits by 8 percent.

While it is important to try to establish equity between livelihood assistance recipients and working low-income people, and to design a welfare system that will give people incentives to work, the government must remember that livelihood assistance is the last layer in the nation’s social safety net and that summarily lowering the benefits of livelihood assistance could cause it to unravel.

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