Japan moots scheme to insure all workers in the country

The government will soon initiate discussions on expanding the coverage of employee pensions and health insurance programmes to all workers.
By: | April 20, 2022

The issue will first be discussed by a government panel of experts on Japan’s social security system for all generations.

The government aims to lay out the framework for the insurance system covering all workers around June and have it reflected in its basic economic and fiscal policy guidelines.

With the enactment of pension system reform-related bills in May 2020, the coverage of the kōsei nenkin public pension programme mainly for corporate workers is set to be extended to those working at companies with 51 or more employees in October 2024. Currently, the workforce requirement stands at 501 or more.

The upcoming discussions will likely focus on whether the employee pension coverage can be extended to all companies regardless of the number of workers they employ.

The expert panel will work on revising the workforce requirement for the kōsei nenkin pension programme so that those working at smaller firms, freelancers and so-called “gig workers” will also be covered. “We’re seeing diversified work styles introduced in Japan, with more people taking secondary jobs or working freelance,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said. “We have to think about ensuring social security that is neutral in terms of work styles.”

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As pension premiums are paid by employers and workers on a 50-50 basis, the coverage expansion is expected to evoke a backlash from some employers over additional costs they will have to bear, according to The Japan Times.