Japan: Starving in the Land of Plenty

The recent story of a man starving to death [Ja] as a result of not being able to receive welfare assistance, made famous thanks to his having documented his last days in a diary, sparked many Japanese bloggers to reflect on the broader implications of their country's welfare policy.

Blogger SkyTeam connects the death by starvation to policies of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party:


The patient who starved to death had a liver ailment and diabetes. The imitation of actions like this one, in which a sick person is denied a bed, is a result of the Liberal Democratic Party's “Beautiful Japan” [policy] and [its drive to] “fight opposition forces”.


It is thought that the majority of people have absolutely no connection with the welfare program, but I've heard that the process for being approved to receive public assistance in this region is extremely harsh. The mass media should properly cover this issue, but… there is nothing in the newspapers about it.


Of course, there are people receiving welfare who live their life as they please… but taking away the last available means for people to receive their subsistence, this is going too far I think.

Blogger Sen, meanwhile, discusses the particularly harsh policy toward welfare assistance enacted by the local government in Kita Kyushu:


Isn't the welfare system the safety net of last resort? In Kita Kyuushuu, none of the people who were half-forced to withdraw from the welfare [program] were taken care of, and it was discovered that they were dying.


In the case of Japanese nationals and citizens, welfare is something that anybody is eligible to apply for. However in Kita Kyushu, what is called the “Kita Kyushu style” is one which attempts to apply a quota reducing the number of applications for welfare assistance, and this shocks me.

Blogger Masami analyzes a report about local welfare policy in Kyushu, excerpting and commenting on key passages. One of these passages describes citizen participation in the drafting of budget decisions:


It is obvious perhaps, but regarding the recent welfare administration, every year, in the budget of the city council, decisions about accounting are received and are also discussed in the associated standing committee. “The existence of welfare assistance” has [as such] been approved by a parliament representing citizens. In other words, there was support from citizens [for this policy].

Masami observes that:


[The statement that] “there was support from citizens” is easy to imagine if you look at the survey attached at the end [of the report] (from page 47 on). [Reading this,] I sensed the anger of citizens regarding issues like the dishonest receipt [of welfare assistance].

Finally, blogger lastchristmas looks into the future and asks where the current policy will lead Japan in the future:


But what will happen from here on?
I have the feeling that this kind of thing will happen more and more often.
Everybody is prone to getting sick and losing their job, so if people have no life security or family relatives, then this kind of thing can happen.


There are apparently people who collect welfare assistance even though they have money, but even so they should not cut of the security [income] of people who really need it.

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