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Half of Japan's Elderly Poor Won't Get Pensions, Nikkei Says

By Tak Kumakura and Finbarr Flynn, Bloomberg


January 22, 2008

More than half of Japan's elderly who receive welfare payments don't qualify for public pensions, forcing them to seek other forms of state support, the Nikkei newspaper said. 

About 556,000 people aged 65 or older were on welfare as of 2005, with about 53 percent or 294,000 not qualified to receive public pensions because they hadn't paid pension premiums for a total of 25 years, the newspaper said, citing a study by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. 

The number of elderly people receiving public pensions and reliant on welfare has almost doubled from 147,000 people in the past seven years. The number is expected to increase to as many as 1.18 million, the newspaper said. 

The increasing welfare burden has prompted a doubling of the national welfare budget in the past 15 years. In the current fiscal year, total spending for social welfare will reach 2.6 trillion yen ($24.6 billion), the newspaper said.

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