Misconduct-Based Public Policy About Public Assistance Benefits in Japan

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Yoshiko Miwa, Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan
The public assistance under the Public Assistance Act is the only sustention for all types of the poor and needy in Japan.  This is based on Article 25 of the Constitution of Japan. This article says that "All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living" and the government of Japanese is responsible to fulfill the situation. The public assistance is a single package which provides all expenses about living consists of 8 sections including livelihood assistance and housing assistance. Each of the sections has the upper limit as "the minimum standards". The government decides these standards annually, according to the Public Assistance Act. However, in Japan, to be a welfare recipient brings very strong stigma. The majority of Japanese has not been considering that welfare recipients have right to maintain wholesome and cultured living, but they should be under poor enough condition because they have to be discriminated. The majority have been tending to consider that, so it is readily keep budgetary restraint for public assistance. In this study, it is explained that how the government of Japan collected and analyzed data, lead to conclusions, decide and implement policies from reports and minutes of councils concerning with public assistance. After 2013, as a part of the "evidence-based public policy", cut in the public assistance budget is progressing.  The Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry of Japan (MHLW) surveyed expenditures by low-income families in the bottom decile. The council on public assistance examined the data by regression analysis without exclusion for families not on public assistance though they are eligible for. Some members of the council pointed out this analysis make no sense. Fundamentally, livelihood assistance should not be determined by comparison with the income of the poor. But as a result, MHLW decided to reduce livelihood assistance by 6.5 % and implemented in 2013. The reasons are the regression analysis and the price decrease calculated independently by MHLW from the official consumer prices. At this moment, a voluntary group of experts, including econometricians are doubting both of the validity of the two reasons. They figured out many misconducts in the regression analysis. Also in fact, it was not a regression analysis, but a principal-component regression. In addition, this group found that the price decrease by MHLW was a systematic false. Currently, in 2014, MHLW is examining on the same method to cut in the housing assistance, although some of the members of the council are insisting to examine on proper data and methods.There are many backgrounds to allow MHLW and the government of Japan such a social irresponsibility.  The biggest one is the mentality of the typical Japanese people who hate decent life of the welfare recipients. The government of Japan and MHLW never inhibit Japanese citizens from discrimination. They use the mood in Japan to enhance their misconduct-based public policy and to oppress the welfare recipients and the poor.