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JTUC-RENGO Vision for Social Security in the 21st Century

A Comprehensive Strategy for a Welfare Society Based on “Security, Equality and Solidarity”


[Revised Abridged Edition]

Preface


In October 2002, RENGO adopted this RENGO “Vision for Social Security in the 21st Century.” The full “Vision” is quite long, taking up more than 110 pages including the data. In order to have as many members of RENGO affiliates as possible gain a deeper understanding of the contents of the “Vision” and to work together with us toward bringing the “Vision” to fruition, we produced a digest edition in January 2003, along with easy-to-understand explanations. This English version presents excerpts from the Japanese pamphlet.
    In 2004, after the publication of the Vision, major changes were made to the pension system, followed by the establishment of the “Committee on Social Security Review” and a gathering of knowledgeable people on reform of the Social Insurance Agency by the government, to seek advice for reforms of the overall social security system, including pension plans. Pursuant to a Diet resolution adopted in April 2005, a joint Upper and Lower House commission was established to consider reforms of the pension and other social security systems. The regular Diet session in 2006 is expected to consider bills related to medical reforms.
    In addition, the population of part-time and temporary workers is on the rise, and the current social security system is not geared to cope with these new forms of employment. A growing number of workers are not enrolled in social insurance programs. Further, the employment rate for women is on the rise, and there is a great need for programs to support child rearing and nurturing future generations, by ensuring that both men and women can balance their working and family life.



Key Points of RENGO’s “Vision for Social Security in the 21st Century”

The key points of the “Vision for Social Security in the 21st Century,” proposed by RENGO as a “Comprehensive Strategy for a Welfare Society based on Security, Equality and Solidarity,” are as follows.

  1. (1) The social security system will be a necessary and integral part of Japan’s economic society in the 21st century. This Vision presents an image for the society aimed for by RENGO. Based on the social security ethos of “social solidarity,” we have proposed a total picture for social security including pensions, health care, nursing care and welfare programs to ensure and provide “security” for people.
  2. (2) The aim of the Vision is to reform the current social security system and its administration based on “participation and the sharing of responsibility” by users (e.g. the creation of a “social security fund”).
  3. (3) The Vision places importance on the consumers’ “right to select” from among available services and on the efficient administration of social security programs, and calls for even the elderly to bear some of the cost of health care and nursing care, the actual services, based on the social insurance approach. For this reason, pensions should remain at the current benefit level, as a guaranteed income.
  4. (4) We have made a calculation of social security benefits and cost burdens, based on the assumption that pension benefits are retained at current levels, that the quality of health care services is improved, that nursing care services are enhanced, and that support programs for child raising are further developed and enhanced. The forecast indicates that by 2025, taxes and social insurance premiums paid by working households would amount to approximately 20% of annual income. This is a level that could be easily borne by working households.
  5. (5) Social security is a system of “mutual aid” (i.e. social solidarity), and this “solidarity” is indeed the “grassroots” and “strength” of trade unions. Social security reforms should be led by trade unions, which are socially and historically responsible for these reforms.


A Picture of 2025 according to RENGO’s Vision for Social Security in the 21st Century

Please see the attached diagram: “Image of 2025” (PDF)

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