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Japan: Welfare breaks for elderly divorcees hit
July 4, 2003
Japan - A welfare ministry proposal to ease the financial burden of elderly divorced women has come up against some heavy criticism.
unveiled Thursday by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, would divide
employee pension benefits between salaried employees and their dependent
But some members
of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party complain that it would only drive
up the divorce rate.
The ministry made
the proposal during a meeting of the Social Security Council, an advisory
panel to health minister Chikara Sakaguchi.
salaried workers' dependent spouses, mostly women, are not required to
contribute to the national pension system but are able to receive basic
pension benefits in their old age.
benefits, paid in addition to the basic benefits, are currently paid to
salaried workers themselves.
proposal for dividing employee benefits between spouses is designed to
deal with the rising divorce rate among elderly couples, which often
leaves divorced women in financial difficulties, according to the
proposal, dependent spouses would receive up to 50 percent of employee
But the proposal
drew fire from members of the LDP's panel on pension systems when the
ministry briefed them on it in May. The members said the proposal would
push the divorce rate higher.
The proposal also
faces criticism from wives in double-income and self-employed households
who believe it favors housewives of salaried workers.