More Restraint on National Burden Ratio to Maintain Economic Vitality

IMAI Takashi

Vice Chairman

In our country which is rapidly becoming the world's most aging society, rising national burden ratio (ratio of combined total of tax burden and social-security burden to national income) is going to be an onerous burden not only on individuals but also on businesses. If social-security benefit is to remain at the present level in the future, when today's young generation becomes aged, the national-burden ratio is estimated to rise to well over 50 %. Rising social cost will aggravate inequalities between generations and sap away the energy of working people and deplete the international viability of businesses, eventually leading to the loss of vitality of the economy and the bankruptcy of national finance. When there are grave apprehensions about a decline in the economy's growth potential resulting from declining labor force and saving rates, administrative reform no doubt is one of the important measures for overcoming these difficulties facing us. An equally important but most urgently needed step, first and foremost, is to slash total government annual expenditure by reviewing medical care and other such excessive national services.

In taking these steps, national consensus must be sought on the rigorous observance of the basic principle of "beneficiaries' responsibility and burden", By this principle, if a national-minimum level of benefit can be enjoyed, whether to seek any further benefit is anyone's discretion, and anyone desiring higher-level benefit bears the burden by self-help.

Not bound by a categorical view of the aged as being the weak, aged people with ample assets and large income may also need to shoulder an appropriate share of the cost in order not to unduly inconvenience future generations. The present active generation, for the dual purpose of ensuring a comfortable future for themselves and also not imposing an unduly heavy burden on the generations of children and grandchildren. should endeavor to be as creative as possible in the creation of new industry and the expansion of the size of the economy.

In resolving the present situation, there should be no evasion or procrastination for fears of immediate pains. Keeping sights firmly on the 21st century, the Government and the people should go through with a reform of the tax system and the social security system for greater efficiency and equality between generations. This, in my belief, is the way to ensure economic growth on a sustained basis and to realize a vigorous, aging society.

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