Ratios, Reserves Dropping for Japan's Public Pension System

Japan's public pension system suffers from problems familiar to some American workers and their employers, according to a summary of FY2004 data posted this week by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The summary showed the growth of pension reserves is slowing, the number of beneficiaries is increasing for all public plans, and the ratio of insured people to beneficiaries is falling toward 1/1 across the board.

The seven-page summary is posted at www.mhlw.go.jp/english/org/policy/dl/p36-37n.pdf. It indicates contributions to the large public plans are coming in at a pace below what was projected, partly because wage growth has been lower than expected. The ratio of insureds to beneficiaries also is lower than expected for three of the plans, but the number of beneficiaries and the expenditures from the plans are also below expectations.

The reserve at the end of FY2004 stood at 198.1 trillion yen at book value, 199.6 trillion yen at market value, according to the report.

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