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Social welfare, assistance for the ill or otherwise disabled and for the old, has long been provided in Japan by both the government and private companies. Beginning in the 1920s, the government enacted a series of welfare programs, based mainly on European models, to provide medical care and financial support. During the postwar period, a comprehensive system of social security was gradually established. Government expenditures for all forms of social welfare increased from 6% of the national income in the early 1970s, to 18% in 1989. The mixture of public and private funding have created complex pension and insurance systems. But a much older tradition calls for support within the family and the local community.
The futures of Japan's health and welfare systems are being shaped by the rapid aging of the population (see Elderly people in Japan). Medical insurance, health care for the elderly, and public health expenses constituted about 60% of social welfare and social security costs in 1975, while government pensions accounted for 20%. By the early 1980s, pensions accounted for nearly 50% of social welfare and social security expenditures because people were living longer after retirement. A fourfold increase in workers' individual contributions was projected by the twenty-first century.
(This is also described under National Pension (Japan).)
In Japan there are three types of Japanese national pensions arranged by the government and corporate organizations.
Enrollment in an employees' pension plan or a mutual-aid pension automatically enrolls you in the basic pension system as well.
|A secondary part||Employees Pension Insurance||National Public Service Mutual Aid Pension||Local Public Service Mutual Aid Pension||Private School Teachers and Employees Mutual Aid Pension|
|The basic pension||The National Pension Fund (The basic pension)|
|Insured persons||Employers、unemployed persons and|
part time & casual workers or equivalents
Salaried employees who do not meet necessary conditions
for members of an employees' pension plan
|Spouses of category II insured persons||Company employees||Public employees|
|CategoryⅠinsured persons||Category III insured persons||Category II insured persons|
|Individual type||Worker's property accumulation promotion system|
|Personal type Defined Contribution Pension Plan|
|Corporate type||Defined benefit pension plan|
|Employees' pension funds|
|Tax-qualified Pension Plans|
|Defined Contribution Pension Plans|
|Retirement mutual aid pensions for small sized businesses|
|Retirement mutual aid pensions for specific small sized businesses|
A major revision in the public pension system in 1986 unified several former plans into the single Employee Pension Insurance Plan. In addition to merging the former plans, the 1986 reform attempted to reduce benefits to hold down increases in worker contribution rates. It also established the right of women who did not work outside the home to pension benefits of their own, not only as a dependent of a worker. Everyone aged between twenty and sixty was a compulsory member of this Employee Pension Insurance Plan.
Despite complaints that these pensions amounted to little more than "spending money," an increasing number of people planning for their retirement counted on them as an important source of income. Benefits increased so that the basic monthly pension was about US$420 in 1987, with future payments adjusted to the consumer price index. Forty percent of elderly households in 1985 depended on various types of annuities and pensions as their only sources of income.
Some people are also eligible for corporate retirement allowances. About 90% of firms with thirty or more employees gave retirement allowances in the late 1980s, frequently as lump sum payments but increasingly in the form of annuities.
Japan also has public assistance programs benefiting about 1% of the population. About 33% of recipients are elderly people, 45% were households with sick or disabled members, and 14% are fatherless families, and 8% are in other categories. If a household's total income falls below the minimum living expense set by the health and welfare minister, the household is eligible for welfare benefits.
Companies in Japan are responsible for enrolling their employees in various social insurance Social Insurance (社会保険, Shakai Hoken ) systems, including health insurance, employee pension, unemployment insurance, and workers' accident compensation insurance. The employer covers all costs for workers' accident compensation insurance, but payments to the other systems are shared by both employer and employee.
The Minimum wage law, introduced in 1947 but not enacted until 1959, was designed to protect low-income workers. Minimum wage levels have been determined, according to both region and industry, by special councils composed of government, labor, and employment representatives.
Japanese law technically states that only Japanese citizens are eligible to receive public assistance. However, in actual practice, foreign permanent residents with no legal restrictions preventing them from working in Japan are allowed to receive welfare payments. In 2011, this de facto situation was upheld by a Fukuoka High Court decision in favor of a 79-year-old Chinese woman with permanent resident status who had been denied social welfare payments by Oita city government.