DPJ gives in to opposition pressure on child allowance policy
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan said Friday it had agreed with the opposition Liberal Democratic and New Komeito parties’ request on the child allowance policy.
The two sides forged an agreement on Thursday night whereby the government will revert to the essence of the child allowance plan used by the LDP before the DPJ came to power in 2009.
The compromise follows on from a DPJ concession last year in which then Prime Minister Naoto Kan had decided to give up on the DPJ’s policy of providing benefits to children of junior high school age or younger.
Under the new plan, the monthly allowance for a child under the age of 3 will be increased in fiscal 2012 to 15,000 yen from the current 13,000 yen. The annual cost of providing allowances will decrease to about 2.3 trillion yen from the current 2.7 trillion yen, by reducing the allowance for children from the age of 3 through middle-school age to 10,000 yen a month from the current 13,000 yen.
The child-allowance issue has been fraught with difficulties and has provoked disagreement between the parties, with each proposing minor revisions concerning the income level of recipients and welfare amounts to be given.
Agreement has been hard to come by since the LDP and Komeito backed a return to the old system. The DPJ, however, had made child welfare reform a central plank of its manifesto, which has led to strong resistance within the party to reforming the system.
The bill is expected to be submitted to the Diet before the end of this month.