Abe survives no-trust vote over pension report scandal

Tokyo, June 25 (IANS) Opposition lawmakers in Japan unsuccessfully tabled a motion of no-confidence against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday after accusing him of burying a controversial government report that questioned the future sustainability of public pensions.
The opposition bloc tabled the motion in Japan’s National Diet just before the current parliamentary term was due to come to a close. Given the ample majority enjoyed by Abe’s government in both of Japan’s parliamentary chambers, the no-confidence vote was never expected to pass.
Opposition parties moved against the head of government following a controversial government report earlier this month that underscored the unsustainability of the public pensions system and seemed to encourage private savings as a way to supplement payments, Efe news reported.
The report, prepared by the Financial Services Agency, said that a couple that retires at the age of 65 in the coming years would need personal savings of 20 million yen (around $186,000) to supplement their pensions if they are to look after themselves till the age of 95.
Faced with a backlash, including from members in his own Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Abe labeled the report “erroneous” and decided to scrap it.
Opposition MPs had accused the Prime Minister of acting irresponsibly and of being dishonest regarding matters that would directly affect Japanese citizens as well as failing to give a proper account of the situation in Parliament, according to the motion as cited by the Kyodo news agency.
The motion’s backers, which included the principal opposition force, the progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), accused Abe of having buried the scandal to avoid rifts within his own party ahead of the Senate elections on July 21.
Currently, the retirement age in Japan is 65 years and the average pension reaches 150,000 yen. Nearly 20 per cent of Japanese people over 65 are in a situation of relative poverty, among the highest of developed countries, according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data.
Japan also has among the highest dependency ratios in the world with 1.8 people of working age for every retired person, according to a recent United Nations report.
The situation is expected to worsen given low birth rates and increased life expectancy in the country, where 40 percent of the population is expected to be over 65 by 2060.

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