Tougher penalties on illegal welfare recipients to be introduced

The government adopted two bills relating to people in need of state aid at a Cabinet meeting Friday, featuring introduction of tougher measures against those who receive public assistance fraudulently.

The legislation comprises a bill to revise the Public Assistance Act and a bill to support poor people. It will be the first full-fledged revision of the act since its enforcement in 1950.

Under the revised bill, illegal recipients of social aid will face imprisonment for up to three years or fines of up to 1 million yen.

It will also enable authorities to seek refunds from the recipients of 40 percent more than the illegally received amounts.

Welfare authorities will require relatives of applicants for social aid, if necessary, to clarify why they cannot support the applicants. They will also ask the applicants to submit statements about their incomes and assets.

Under the bill to support poor people, meanwhile, a rent subsidy system will be introduced so those losing jobs and homes will not end up becoming welfare recipients.

Consultation counters will be set up at local government offices for poor people, the bill says.

Separately, the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito party as well as the opposition Democratic Party of Japan are now working on submitting bills of their own to the Diet to provide education support to children of poor households.