Social security costs to rise more than 50% by FY2040


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Next stop: sales tax at 30%

20 ( +20 / -0 )

Debt for as far as the eye can see.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

A "pay it forward" style of Healthcare might be an idea to curtail costs. Basically those people that have free time could work in the Healthcare world and receive points for every month they work. They would not be monetarily compensated and their points can only be used within their immediate family. The points they receive can be used to pay their own personal or family healthcare cost in the future but at a discounted rate. You see... these people would already have enough money to live without the need to make more but their time could be used while they're healthy to help others and receive points in compensation. It would be a sort of community incentive and could save the Government and Society money overall.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

The campaign to raise tax has begun! Don't believe it.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

A Japanese doctor told me that he thought that Japan would have to adopt a Swedish style model of taxation in the future.

Many might not agree with that, just sayin'.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Democracy ruins Japan. Politicians cannot take unpopular policies for voters.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This article addresses the problem of a greying society and low birthrate but conveniently stops short of addressing the reasons why.

Extremely long work hours, low pay, inadaquate security net, lack of child care services, small and cramped housing, and of course aversion to immigration.

A "pay it forward" style of Healthcare might be an idea to curtail costs.

Your proposal is very interesting and very insightful. definitely needs looking into.

One more thing I would say is raise the retirement age to 70. People are living well into their 90's here in Japan. That's 20-30 years of receiving gov benefits. No wonder there's so much pressure on the system. Raise the retirement age to 70 and I would add a clause: the worker may choose to postpone retirement to 75. This, of course, should be at the discrepancy of the worker, not the company.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

I've calculated that the total of my pension payouts (during a 20 yr period, ages 65 to 85) will be only slightly above my total contributions through the Nenkin/Kosei insurance scheme.

So I'm wondering why so much general tax revenue will be needed, when in a typical case like mine, revenue from insurance covers the cost, espeically when one considers the fund is getting returns from its investments. I suspect that over the years, the fund has been tapped and money siphoned away for other purposes.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

24% of GDP is t even that high when compared to many other OECD countries, you’ve got to bite the bullet, しょうがない


2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan has their head in the sand.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

20 years ago maybe longer the government were aware this was going to happen. And to act suprised now is disingenuous to say the least. The LDP have been in power longer then a fair percentage of the elderly have been alive. No plan just a panic reaction, raise tax on the 60% of part time workers that work stupid hours can't afford a family. Brilliant.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

The key to living decently in Japan after retirement is to have your house paid off a few years before you retire. That measly pension goes a lot further when you don't have to pay for your house. Personally, I think the concept of retirement will soon be folklore, unless you are very rich. I don't really have a problem dropping dead at work, so I probably will keep working for as long as I can. There are loads of jobs in Japan for old folk.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Means testing seems to be one method that could save some money. There is no reason at all that someone with the riches like Aso Taro should be receiving a huge pension from the gov't. Take into account their net worth, savings etc. and then decide how much they should receive. When they die the gov't is going to tax the hell out of their money anyway, so why not use it now, instead of feeling resentment for a very high inheritance tax!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Tax children at birth.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Cricky - right on! LDP have known about this for decades and essentially refused to do the "hard stuff" so as to not alienate their voter base.

Absolutely a "Big Fail" in governance. And I also blame voters who never question anything and simply blindly support the status quo to look after themselves only.

I see major tax re-adjustments and a vibrant sensible immigration program as the main way to ameliorate this shamble.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I had a Japanese neighbour when I was kid in my home country (Philippines) and stayed there until their 90's. I remember them saying that it stretches their pension money longer since the costs of living are lower.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

2nd biggest economy in the world? ......biggest national debt in the world, lowest birth rate over half the population working on semi part time contracts. Things are not looking good. Big thank you LDP.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I suspect that over the years, the fund has been tapped and money siphoned away for other purposes.

Noooo, really? In Japan? You don't say. It is really comforting to know that all the money we put into the nenkin program ends up in someone elses pocket and we will probably have little to NO money to support us when we retire.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

3rd biggest economy that's an indication of how long I've watched the decline. Good luck Japan you are going to need it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Fortunately, the elderly hold more than 50% of the wealth in Japan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is what the citizens have been voting for...

Seriously though, welcome to the new-age in Japan whereby working until the grave is both normal and 'virtuous'...

I wish I could 'double-like' Aly's and Browny's posts!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The costs, which include pensions and health-care coverage and will be primarily funded by the government and insurance fees

E.g. funded by tax payers, a lot of whom haven't even been born yet.

Of the total costs, pensions are projected to increase from the current 56.7 trillion yen to 73.2 trillion yen, while medical benefits could rise from 39.2 trillion yen to as high as 68.5 trillion yen.

By comparison, tax revenue for 2018 is budgeted at 60 trillion yen:


Nursing care benefits are expected to more than double from 10.7 trillion yen to 25.8 trillion yen, and benefits for child-rearing will grow from 7.9 trillion yen to 13.1 trillion yen.

As a child-rearing parent, I'd much prefer to not be taxed for my share of that, and be left with the money so that I can deal with my child-rearing by myself.

I am actually a grown-adult, and I don't need unsustainable government spending in order to take care of my family. 

I am also sure I'm not the only grown-adult.

All this spending needs a good hard looking-at.

The dream has ended, the spending plans ought to be brought back to reality.

Regarding how the costs will be funded, the government said the 46.9 trillion yen currently shouldered by taxpayers is forecast to climb as high as 80.4 trillion yen, while insurance premiums will rise from 70.2 trillion yen to as much as 107.3 trillion yen.

It's all paid for by taxpayers, Santa Claus doesn't pay those "insurance premiums"

Question - can the government spend your money better on you, than you can spend it on yourself?

We have to be realistic. Government spending should be kept for those who need it, given the dire state of Japan's public finances. Japan can't afford to keep dishing out loads of money for everyone, which in Japan includes a lot of wealthy people.

The government's "baseline" scenario for economic growth, which formed the basis for the latest social benefit outlook, assumes Japan's nominal GDP will grow from a projected 564.3 trillion yen in fiscal 2018 to 790.6 trillion yen in fiscal 2040.

That would imply the yen depreciates by a similar magnitude, or high inflation, because there's no way the economy will grow any where near that magnitude in real terms, at least under the failed economic policies that Japan has been pursuing for decades without achieving growth to date. Japan's growth has been flat-lining since the mid 1990's. It's not going to grow without major changes under conditions of a shrinking and aging population. And if inflation and a depreciated currency is the plan, that implies a decrease in quality of public service.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Means testing seems to be one method that could save some money.

I'd go with compulsorary individual savings accounts.

Cut everyone's taxes to enable them to save more of their own money for their future.

People who hit retirement age without having saved an adequate amount, get their account topped up by the rest of us through taxes.

So taxes only go to those who haven't been able to save enough.

Far more simple (and less intrusive) than individually assessing every person's means.

And by keeping the money in individual accounts, people have more personal security and certainty, and there is less bureaucracy sitting in the middle, feeding off of us.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And I'm sure the government will find a way to lament while doing nothing significant for the next 20 years.

Wouldn't want to take money from the rich now, would we !

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The balance for pension has been in an increasing deficit for nearly three decades as population growth slowed and the population greyed. They were well aware of this problem, but did nothing about it. Of course, the current generation of pension recipients are the baby-boomers and those who worked through the bubble era of the Japanese economy, which is well and truly over, by the way. It’s quite obvious there was very little forethought during the bubble years when this system was initiated. Now, some 30 odd years later, the pension fund is paying out double what people are putting in. You don’t have to be an economist to realize the huge fail of this system. Now, they have listed the fund on the stock market in the hope of getting a return, but people are well aware of the failing of this system and will not invest in it freely. This is why the government is making every person pay premiums, even though they have no intention of retiring in Japan to take a pension. And, for those foreigners who are paying into it, good luck getting the funds back. You have to be living outside Japan for one year before you can apply and the application has to be made in person in Japan. Then, after all that, you will be lucky to get one-third back. This is just another case of paying money for nothing in Japan. I have quit jobs that made me pay into this scam. I have my own private superannuation fund that will pay me handsomely when I retire. I’ve been paying into it for nearly 30 years. I applied to the minister in charge of the pension system to have myself exempt from paying into this scam, but his only answer was, “Japan has an agreement with Australia.” However, you don’t have to pay 20% of your salary into the pension fund in Australia. Plus, I have my super and don’t need a Japanese pension. There was no way these stone-headed jijis were gonna budge. Now, they will have to increase premiums on pension and health insurance to pay for the previous generation, who were working during the bubble. This whole system is a failed scam!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

People need to remember this figure is estimate only. Robots will be doing a lot of the nursing and care worker jobs in future, and perhaps some doctors jobs. This will cut costs greatly,eliminating need for high tax, or immigration. Win-win.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

All societies will face the same situation unless they take drastic measures and opt for more social/financial solidarity for the elderly. I don't think filthy rich 85yo should get richer when 77yo blokes still have to earn their crust. Same 'decent' pension for all when they reach 75-80 would be a start.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My beautiful mansion with its wonderful roof garden will be paid off before I retire. I feel sorry for those with a high mortgage that must be paid into their 70's, and or those renting. Not sure how they can afford to do that once they are retiring.

Divorce here is also a killer. 50% of your pension goes to the ex-wife if you are a guy. In America you can get married and divorced over and over again and you still get your 100% of your social security and each ex can claim 50% if their own social security is less than what half of yours would be.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Oh no the sky is falling. Danger danger Will Robinson. We're sinking!

A solution will be found. Just more hysterics from the media so the locals keep voting LDP because the narrative is ONLY THEY can find a solution.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I seriously think Japan will get stuck in social security cost as govt. management is still the same, in this unchangeable policy, ironically, seniors manages. Japan has to develop economically the ways to find energy+fuel by itself, and less dependency in trades (of import-export), social self-cultivation where elder people be able to work according to their ability+physical capability. I find some elder people prefer to leave Japan to work abroad, because Japan has less acceptance for elder people, lack of management study to employ them. The government's "baseline" scenario for economic growth not including elder people means only virtual management, unreal simulations, the world of 20 years after.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

We are entering crunch time folks, and its going to get worse over time.

If the govt is saying costs will go up 50% then what that REALLY means is 70% if we are lucky & 100% more than likely!!

It is going to get nasty & fast! Look for the printing presses to speed up & for J-debt to skyrocket so far worse than Greece (& Japan's debt is already WORSE the Greece btw!) to utter insanity!!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Raise the retirement age. Government pensions were not introduced with the idea of people receiving them for well over twenty years. That would only possible with massive taxation and forced savings.

Get dependent homemakers to pay into the system. 18 million women do not at the moment. You can soften the blow by increasing child benefit. Homemakers raising children do a big service to society, those without children or with children who've grown up do not. They can work/pay for their pension like everyone else.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Robots will be doing a lot of the nursing and care worker jobs in future, and perhaps some doctors jobs. This will cut costs greatly,eliminating need for high tax, or immigration. Win-win.

Gambare Japan - Nice idea (I haven't downvoted you for once ;-) ) but humans have been inventing labour-saving devices since the dawn of civilisation (starting with the wheel) and we still have high taxes. The computing revolution, which was also supposed to cut costs, didn't lead to a drop in taxes, so I don't think it's going to be any different for robots.

In fact it may be much better for the economy (and certainly for society) for more people to be working and therefore receiving and spending money, even if they work less efficiently than robots.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Raise the retirement age.? How about lowering it, the economy is robust enough proudly hailed as in the top 3. Workers dropping dead from overwork, no time to establish any relationship let alone a family. Work to death is the answer? I'm no expert but it does appear that the current situation is not working.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Exactly, Cricky! Japan is suffering from some serious tunnel-vision and paralysis in these areas. It will be quite epic to see nothing substantial and effective done about these problems in another 20 years' time. Knowing Japan well, I'm certainly not holding my breath. At least we ought to know who and what we cannot rely on... Better to lay your own plans.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Tax children at birth.

Better yet, double the cost of having a baby, then tax it more! And allow companies to work their employees so hard they do not have the time or energy to make more kids.

Does not seem like a society trying to raise the birthrate

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Some excellent points on this thread.

Like some others have commented already,when I first arrived here 2 decades plus ago the government was talking about what to do in the future about the impending demographic timebomb facing Japan.

Fast forward 20 years and the only things that have changed are that the average salary has gone from ¥5m to ¥4m,sales tax has been introduced and raised a couple of times,health insurance payments have gone up so have pension payments,residential taxes,supplementary payments to pay for those who are already seniors,the number of kids living below the poverty line has risen dramatically,instead of a nation of middle class people that the LDP would like you to believe Japan has turned into a nation of haves and have nots.

Japan reached the point of no return a while ago and I can't imagine the government coming up with any fresh ideas other than yet another revamped Abenomics spending plan that will just compound the problem.

Take a good look around the next time you go to the supermarket and you will see reality staring you in the face......nearly all of the shoppers will have white hair meaning that they are taking from the system not giving and it is only going to get much worse.

Still,as foreigners,we have the option to leave the sinking ship which most Japanese don't have.I guess that is fair really since it is them and not us who have kept the LDP in power for all of these years.What goes around.......and all of that.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Do is the retirement age gonna be pushed to 100???

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Here is a very interesting article:


Some of the highlights of the article:

The latest probe at the problem by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications revealed that as of 1 April 2018, the number of children under the age of 15 was estimated to be 15.53 million (7.95 million boys and 7.58 million girls).

> ▼ Which may seem like a lot,

but is actually the lowest ever in Japanese history.

> That’s a steady decline for 37 years straight since 1982.

Additionally, the proportion of children to total population has continued dropping annually for the past 44 years to the current 12.3 percent, the lowest ever since 1975

Here are some of the heartbreaking comments by netizens that really highlight the problem:

“They say that we continue to have less children, but raising children in Japan is really tough. I’m concerned about student loans, as I have to work to repay it. If I lose my job bearing a child, who’s going to repay it? It takes about 20 years to finish repayment, and after that it’ll be late childbearing. Having children isn’t realistic.”

> “Of course. Almost every Japanese has to scrape by with income tax, municipal tax, pension, and health insurance payments. If you don’t work, the only option the country gives you is committing suicide. We don’t have the privilege of having children. More than 50 percent of ordinary people are desperate.”

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Otherwise you are going to have to start euthanizing the aged, promote wholesale immigration, or tank the economy.

This is now happening...

Many old people are dying alone in wooden shaby homes, immigration is skyrocketing (number of blogs/posts about Japan from foreigners...), whith so many happy to get a crunch of the rest of the golden age now disappearing at unprecedented pace, taxes ballooning with no social returns except being allowed to die working.

Some many Japanese people will have to enjoy a robot wiping their bottom, one of my brother in law in particular (the other one is filthy rich and won't raise salary of his employees lol).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Investing pension funds on the stock market is not so smart, same as japanese leaders. Not so. Smart.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan should have raised the age to receive a national pension to 65 or 68 back in 1990. Some may not like to hear this but part of the deficit is from giving too generous of benefits to "permanent" full time housewives (without much being paid in).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

“This article addresses the problem of a greying society and low birthrate but conveniently stops short of addressing the reasons why. 

Extremely long work hours, low pay, inadaquate security net, lack of child care services, small and cramped housing, and of course aversion to immigration.”

Two more points. Decades ago, there weren’t so many single mothers. And getting welfare was a shame.

There is a huge increase in women divorcing and separating and going on welfare. People might be surprised how much a single mother with kids gets.

Secondly, on that note, as more young men realize that if they divorce they’ll be paying child support but either never seeing their kids or seeing them a few hours a month after being told to be “ikumen “, there iOS less incentive for men to start families.

May least in the old days they had a reasonable chance of seeing wages grow with seniority.

i wonder with the economy, threat of earthquakes, increasing in taxes etc if soon there won’t be more Japanese heading overseas

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The baseline assumption is a 1.3% growth in GDP. That is about right.

Japan will not average that over the stated timeframe.

It will average lower.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan will not average that over the stated timeframe.

It will be higher. The government tends to too conservative in its forecast.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

"Big thank you LDP"

Don'f forget to thank the worthless DPJ and the other worthless parties too.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


Retirement age should not go up for those already paying into the system. If you do that, the social security becomes a ponzi scheme where the age keeps rising and rising and you never get your money back.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The government tends to too conservative in its forecast.

You have that backwards, the overly rosy projections are one of the reasons that government has failed to achieve its fiscal health restoration targets for decades. Originally targeted for the at least as early as 2010, the latest plan targets 2025.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Today’s pensioners won’t be around forever. After reaching their peak sometime in the mid 21st century, social security costs will decline as the aging population begins to fall.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A Japanese doctor told me that he thought that Japan would have to adopt a Swedish style model of taxation in the future.

Japans top tax rate is around 55% now. Sweden is 56.7%.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Retirement age should not go up for those already paying into the system. If you do that, the social security becomes a ponzi scheme where the age keeps rising and rising and you never get your money back.

But we're not talking about that jumin- we are talking about people who retire at 65 and then go on to live another 30 years on pension. That's too much. Even if we raised it to 70 that's still 20+ years of receiving pension. People are living to 90 and beyond. They shouldn't be receiving pension for 30 years. That's way too long.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very white-collar solution to the problem. Many people doing physical work - tradespeople, nurses, labourers - find it difficult enough to keep working into their 50s and 60s.

Sorry. Have to disagree with you there. I worked in demolition for a while and there were ALOT of people in their 60's working there, and some of them had more stamina than I did. And demolition is even harder than construction.

They should change their jobs, then?

Not necessarily- they can vary their duties such as working as construction guards which by the way, many do. They can do paperwork.. They can work bulldozers.. there are options.

Seems to me that sooner or later, Japan is going to have bite the bullet on immigration.

On that we are in perfect agreement.

But I wonder if that ship has sailed. Japan is losing well over a million people every 4 years and the loss will grow exponentially. I don't know if Japan can be saved anymore. It may very well have passed the event horizon.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm glad your demolition guys were such a fit bunch (I wish I was one of them) but I hope you'd agree that there are some workers for whom retirement at 70 would be a pretty cruel imposition.

I don't know if I agree with that.. Those people were against immigration and still continue to be. They made their bed. Now they have to sleep in it. Plus in Japan, if they are living to 90 and beyond, they are probably healthy enough to work til 70.

For instance, I know from talking to quite a lot of nurses and aged care workers recently that back, shoulder and joint problems are endemic in that work sector. And my own experience from working for many years in HR is that there are many workers who physically (or sometimes psychologically) just can't make the statutory retirement age, whatever that may be.

Ok. That's very true. Point well taken, but unfortunately we don't live in a Utopia. There will be no doubt people that will need assistance. What we have to do is find out how we can help them while keeping them productive members of society. What we can't do is retire them at 65. Not when they are living to 95 and beyond. And anyway, people 65 today are about as healthy as people who were 55 20 years ago. People are still healthy and can work til 70. Especially when they have been staunchly against immigration.

It may be easier to change work duties if you're already employed in a workplace, as long as you have a sympathetic boss, but what if you're not? What if you're in the position of actually having to look for work as a mature-age person? One article about ageism I read while checking this out stated that in Japan the main employment opportunities for mature-age workers were as taxi drivers, or security guards - not for everyone, and a limited pool of jobs, surely.

There are a surprisingly large number of jobs for the elderly. For example I often see young people standing at a reception desk, and I think to myself this should be a silver job. Also there are convience stores. Never short on jobs there. There is also a HUGE shortage of drivers. There is work for seniors within their companies, and their companies will not retire them and give them work that they can do based on their seniority. This by and large is the system in Japan.

I hope that 'event horizon' you speak of hasn't been passed already. But from what I know, in order for immigration to be considered more positively by the Government, there would have to be a sea-change in the opinions of the Japanese people.

Agree 100%

Look, I'm with you that Japan needs immigration and needs it fast. But also raising the retirement age 5 years will buy the nation a bit more time not to mention if the retirement age is raised AND it is explained that this is due to labor shortage and lack of immigration, that very well might be the catalyst that brings that sea-change in the opinions of the Japanese people we both want so much.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Originally targeted for the at least as early as 2010, the latest plan targets 2025."

Because of the Lehman Shock in 2008 and earthquake in 2011.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Many years ago, I noticed the downward spiral and made plans to invest in more vibrant economies and to keep my money out of the hands of the ever invasive Japanese government.

I would suggest that anyone living in Japan always have a plan B!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I reckon this is the crux of it. You have to look after people if they can no longer work in their current jobs, especially if they're physically incapable of doing so. You can't unilaterally impose (or suggest) raising the retirement age to 70 (as it's gradually being raised to where I live in Australia by 2035) without making some provision for those people.

Look. It doesn't matter if the retirement age is 70 or 55. What happens if you have an accident at work at 50 and can no longer work? The key issue is a social safety net for ANYONE who can't work .

I can't really argue with you about the opportunities for older workers in Japan, other than to reiterate that my impression from reading about this issue gives me exactly the opposite impression to yours. I do actually hope that what you say is true

So do I my friend. It was great talking to you. You are a true gentleman.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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