The Supreme Court ruled July 18 that foreigners living in Japan, even with permanent residency status, are not entitled to receive welfare benefits known as seikatsu hogo, literally livelihood protection. It is the first ruling that considers foreigners ineligible for such benefits. The ruling sends an unfortunate message to foreign workers that while their contributions to Japan’s economy might be welcome, the government, in turn, is not obliged to take care of them when they are in need.

The court case involved an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency status who had her application for welfare benefits rejected by the municipal government of the city of Oita.

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