HOMESpecial TopicsJTUC-RENGO Vision for Social Security in the 21st CenturyThe Society We Seek and the Basic Philosophy of the Vision

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

The Society We Seek and the Basic Philosophy of the Vision

The Society We Seek and the Basic Philosophy of the Vision

Background of the Development of the Social Security Vision and Its Significance

The social security system is an essential “public asset” (or social joint venture) for life design over our lifetime, as we come into the world, grow up, work and grow old. In order to make Japan a sustainable society in the 21st century, it is essential for us to position social security as a pillar that supports the whole of our economy and society and to rebuild the social security system based on the ethos of “social solidarity.”
However, as seen in the pension reforms of 2000 and the health insurance reforms of 2002, recent overhauls of social security schemes have focused on financial issues within the frameworks of individual schemes, and have repeatedly promoted the “merciless” cutting of benefits and increases in social insurance premiums and service charges borne by the recipients of services. These practices have led to a weakening of the functions of social security, contributed to growing distrust and lack of secure feelings toward social security among citizens, and thus led to a “crisis of social security.” In order to overcome this “crisis,” reforms must be carried out based on the following three axes:

  1. (1) A “reform-minded approach” that increases the allocation of resources to welfare and social security programs in response to social needs:
  2. (2) A break from the mind-set that regards social security as a “burden”; and
  3. (3) A viewpoint favoring an “active role,” under which social security supports economic vitality and in turn the economic vitality supports social security.

From this perspective, the “Vision for Social Security in the 21st Century” is, in the first place, a manifestation of the image of society pursued by RENGO (a welfare society centered on labor), and of the position and role of social security in such a society. Second, the Vision clearly lays out the basic philosophy which can form a basis for a social security capable of acting as a safety net for our living. Specifically, it draws a comprehensive picture of social security that brings 2025 into view, and an ideal vision of medical care, nursing care, welfare and pension schemes at that time. In other words, the Vision portrays a “Comprehensive Strategy for a Welfare Society based on Security, Equality and Solidarity” toward realizing a “Welfare Society Centered on Labor”.
Over the next five years, RENGO will conduct a thorough review of the line of thought presented in the Vision and the details of individual social security schemes, in the light of future developments in the economic and social situation.

Schedule for Upcoming Reforms of Social Security Scheme

Reforms of Social Security Scheme

Work & Employment Welfare & Social Security
Era prior to industrial
Retirement life security and welfare provided by the family

In principle, the family “provided support” for the retired and those in need of nursing care

Period of the start of employed labor Job security and intra-company welfare programs at large corporations

Toward a system composed of welfare programs primarily provided by large corporations + dependence on the family
Social security provided by the state was limited to programs for the relief of the poor

Period of the dominance of employed labor Expansion of corporate-run welfare programs and inception of a state-run social security system

Increase in employment thanks to economic growth and public works
Widening gaps among corporate-run welfare programs and the creation of the National Pension Plan (1961)

Period of unstable employment


Increase in unemployment and unstable employment and crisis in the social security system

Increase in unstable employment and the emergence of workers not enrolled in nor paying premiums for social insurance schemes
Dependence on the family reached a limit due to the increase of two-generation families and transfers of workers without their families, as well as long working hours

What of the years ahead? From “dependence on the family and corporation” to “social solidarity”