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Welfare G-men brought in to track down chiselers

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This week, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced a record high number of households living on welfare as of December. Of a total of 1,634,185, roughly half these households consisted of elderly people living alone without earnings.

According to the same announcement, the total number of individuals receiving welfare was 2,165,585, equivalent to 1.71% of Japan's total population.

With the burgeoning figures, local governments are under pressure to weed out those who shouldn't be on the receiving end of their largesse. To do this, reports Yukan Fuji (March 4), from 2008, the specialized job category it calls "Welfare G-men" was initiated.

"In addition to information from snitches who tattle on suspected welfare cheaters, there are situations in which cheaters will be uncovered by a case worker," says an unnamed civil service worker at a municipal office in the greater Tokyo area. "While they are recipients of welfare payments due to such reasons as 'I can't work' or 'I can't make it with this amount of income,' they are often absent from home during the daytime, which raises the suspicion they are out doing something that brings in income."

While monetary payouts vary depending on the recipient's age and makeup of his or her family, a single person living alone receives from 130,000 to 140,000 yen per month, which would also have to cover their rent.

The two investigators employed by the unnamed city are both former police officers, and should suspicions arise of irregularities, they'll commence an investigation. A single case might require several months, and when warranted, the investigators may be required to put in long hours, working late into the night.

In one case, a man in his early 30s claimed he was disabled due to an injury and unable to work. But even after his recovery, he made no effort to seek employment.

"When the case worker called on his residence, he was frequently absent, and after the investigation was initiated, the man was observed going around by car to various places," said Yukan Fuji's source. "It was finally determined he was calling on several women's apartments -- he'd even been paying monthly contracts for parking spaces at their places."

"If it had been a case of a day laborer receiving welfare while working, it would be easy to catch him red-handed. But nobody could figure out what this guy was up to. Finally we looked into his bank records and learned that he had a corporate account, with himself as the head of the business. From the record of entries, it appeared to be an agency that specialized in placing ads on the Internet. So while on the dole, the guy was obtaining income from the Internet."

The investigators asked the man to give the names of those with whom he conducted his business transactions, but he refused, insisting that "They're just friends from whom I borrowed money."

The welfare payouts to him were halted based on what was judged to be "false claims." The entire process from start to finish took three months.

In the average year, the city's two-man team typically investigates about 30 such cases, of which roughly one out of three results in suspension of payouts.

"I suppose the main objective of having the 'Welfare G-men' on the job is to discourage the false claims," says Kinki University Yoko Kinugasa. "There aren't enough case workers to go around, and it's difficult to uncover some cheaters. Using specialist investigators to go after the most egregious cases is proving effective."

As such cheating becomes increasingly intolerable, more local governments are likely to get tough with similar systems in the future, Yukan Fuji notes.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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Tip of the iceberg I'll bet. Just like the "my number" scheme was put in place to nail people who evade paying taxes, this is easily the next thing in line, get the cheaters off the public dole.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"they are often absent from home during the daytime, which raises the suspicion they are out doing something that brings in income.”

Or out searching for work perhaps?

2 ( +4 / -1 )

I would be just OK if they were honest about their income then just present to the public office for any fair assitance (on top of their income) that they need. One reason why we have the MyNumber system.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This is typical of neoliberal regimes. They always go after social security recipients while at the same time handing out ever greater amounts of corporate welfare. Where are the G-men to track down the profligate?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Why does it feel like this article -- which has no author byline, mind you -- was specifically placed to get readers to support the My Number system?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Quick calculation says, if quoted figures can be believed, that this will save 50M yen if all of those caught get 130-140,000 a month. As long as those who are genuinely unable to work don't lose their benefits, it looks like a promising solution to an entrenched problem. The program should be expanded, but closely monitored, as the potential for corruption/collusion is pretty obvious.

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They always go after social security recipients while at the same time handing out ever greater amounts of corporate welfare. Where are the G-men to track down the profligate?

Since the boards of many of these corporations are populated with former politicians, and with more politicians waiting for a fat job with no responsibility, do you think that will happen?

You of course would want the government to use more authority to go after corporations and make them pay. But the unintended consequence of giving them this authority is that they can use it to do what they have already been doing for the past 50 years, twisting the arms of corporations in return for favors. Giving them more power only gives them more leverage to negotiate even more favors.

There would be no huge corporations and mega-banks without the intervention of the policies you recommend. There cannot be big business or monopolies without the existence of big government to facilitate these things.

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When hand outs are given there is no end of people standing in line with their hands out. Bribery comes in many forms.

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While they are recipients of welfare payments due to such reasons as ‘I can’t work’ or ‘I can’t make it with this amount of income,’ they are often absent from home during the daytime, which raises the suspicion they are out doing something that brings in income.”

Yeah, they're out looking for work! Jeez...this country and its continuously suspicious attitude of everyone. No room for encouragement, just deem anyone who can't work in this overly corrupt government run system, an instant scrounger, regardless of whether they've paid their taxes and insurance, ergo, meaning those payments are rightfully theirs in the first place. So let's send a couple of ex keystones out to spy on folks and casually brush aside the fact that 5 years on, Fukushima residents are still waiting for the government to sort its act out and pay them their dues!

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Agree with so many of the above. While the case about the guy with the internet company and being on the dole was not good, it certainly cannot compare with the Gov beaurocrats and the amakudari. Yes, we need to weed out the scammers, but what about those on top of the food chain deemed too big to fail?

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