Debate on State of Social Security

200 Participate in Symposium

16 February 2005
Photo: An opinion exchange being held on such topics as the future state of social security, the role of trade unions, and so forth. (February 8, Tokyo) Photo: An opinion exchange being held on such topics as the future state of social security, the role of trade unions, and so forth. (February 8, Tokyo)
On February 8th, RENGO held the "Social Security Symposium: Toward Fundamental Reform of the Social Security System – Challenge for a New Welfare Society" at the Tokyo Women's Plaza with 200 people in attendance in order to broaden the discussion on the future state of social security and what issues we will face when attempting to realize it as well as the role of trade unions.

The underlying proposal was offered by RENGO President Sasamori and keynote addresses were presented by Hokkaido University School of Law Professor Miyamoto and Kyoto University Graduate School of Law Professor Shinkawa during the first part of the symposium. President Sasamori reported on movements by the "Committee for Social Security Review," which is an advisory organ established within the cabinet, and also proposed social security system reform that is currently being demanded by RENGO. Aiming for the establishment of a safe and reliable social security system, Sasamori said that he hoped that "the Committee on Social Security Review would hurry up and present its proposal for fundamental reform which would review taxes and social security in an integrated manner and that it would be reflected in concrete discussions among deliberations by political parties." Further, he called on "government, labor, and management to corporate together in order to allow the creation of a solid social security system that is truly for the people." During the keynote addresses the general themes were identified as were several points to learn from regarding the success of such Northern European style welfare models as Sweden. There were also some objections voiced in opposition to the notion that welfare states were damaging to the economy. They offered some helpful points for the realization of a 21st century welfare model by urging that we "formulate systems which respond to a variety of people’s lifestyles and which place an equal value on people's efforts in the fields of pension, medical care, and jobs through cooperation with supporters for those classes which have the most difficulty in accessing the labor market."

In the second part of the symposium, a panel discussion was held which included the following panelists: Toyo University Faculty of Economics Associate Professor Komamura, Abiko City Mayor Fukushima, JICHIRO (All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union) Public Funding Council (an occupation-based council in JICHIRO for workers in social insurance operations) Secretary General Hiraoka and RENGO Headquarters Department of Economic and Social Policy Executive Director Tatsui. During the discussion, panelists stressed that trade unions have a major role to play in the achievement of a "participatory welfare society" where citizens, residents, insured persons, and users can all participate in the management of the social security system creating a place where, for instance, retired people would be able to share and make good use of their honed skills and experiences.