Abe government declared in 2013 to cut budgets for life protection scheme by
approximately 67 billion Yen in three years. Since then it has been implementing
the policy steadily. Recently the Nagoya District Court gave a ruling to a
legal case which claims that it is violation of the Constitution for the
authority to reduce life protection benefits by an average rate of 6.5%. The
court decision, however, is fully illegitimate.
RULING ENDORSES VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 25 OF CONSTITUTION
Spring of 2012, when the currently opposition party, the Democratic Party of
Japan, was the government, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), using two
members of the Upper House, accused harshly a recipient of the life protection
program, a mother of a comedian, of her unjust eligibility, though, in fact, it
was legitimate. The two were Members of Councilors Seko Hiroshige and Katayama
Satsuki, who held grandiose campaign, mobilizing mass media, against recipients
of the social service program.
the December general election of that same year, the LDP won, with a pledge to
scale down the benefits of life protection scheme by 10% as a concrete policy
to overhaul the social welfare plans. The LDP recovered the government status,
which was led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. The new administration, however,
before final decisions were made by the Workshop on Life Protection Standard of
the Social Service Panel, implemented its policy to cut benefits, disregarding
the on-going discussions in the panel.
are angry enough to rise up
of the social program, with assistance of their supporting groups, sued a legal
case, insisting that the budget cut violates the Constitution and relevant
laws. It was a collective litigation, which is rare in the social welfare proceedings,
organizing about 900 plaintiffs and suing at 20 district courts across the
country. The first court ruling was issued June 25 at the Nagoya District Court
(led by Presiding Judge Kakutani Masatake).
sets benefit amount?
have been pointed out on the way how to set a benefit amount; a simple
announcement is all right by Minister of Health, Labor and Social Welfare on
the government newsletter. No parliamentary debates are requested. It is only a
bureaucratic decision of the Ministry.
bureaucratic decision, however, has a binding force as a concrete step to
endorse Article 25 of the Constitution, which says about the right to lead a minimum
level of healthy and cultural life. Another problem lies in a fact that the
Ministry itself has ignored opinions presented by the panel on life protection
service, which is established by the same ministry. What is a role of the
budget cut responds to people’s sentiment?
recent Nagoya court ruling says that ‘no legal provision is found that
obligates experts’ consultation when procedures are taken to reduce the benefit
level’ and continues that due to a price-down trend in the society in general ‘the
norms to sustain the life standard have substantially been heightened’. Logic
of the court is the same as that of the central government.
when the plaintiffs pointed that ‘the norms to guarantee the life standard
should be estimated by the valid basic statistics, not by a political intention’,
the court says that ‘the LDP’S policy depended on people’s feeling and
financial conditions of those days’. That means the court ruling endorses that
the government is allowed to disrespect Article 25 of the constitution that
guarantees the national minimum principle. The court has issued an
exceptionally irrational decision.