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The public pension system and people’s concern over their retirement finances emerged as a key campaign issue for the upcoming Upper House election after a Financial Services Agency council report estimated that a model household of retirees dependent on pension benefits to cover their expenses would face a shortfall of ¥20 million if they lived to the age of 95.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling coalition rebutted opposition criticism and emphasized that sustainability of the public pension system will be secure over the long term. However, it is undeniable that the pension system is under increasing pressure as the population rapidly ages and declines, and that benefits will need to be cut as the working-age population — whose premium payments pay for benefits to the retirees —shrinks. Voters’ concern over retirement financing will not go away by simply repeating that the pension system is secure. All the parties involved should engage in practical discussions over what can be done to reform the public pension system so it can reliably support retirees.

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