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Policy Proposals  Economic Policy, Social Security Toward establishment of diverse and flexible corporate pension system

Sept. 16, 2014


The level of annuity payments under Japan's public pension system is expected to decline by about 20% in the future as the "macroeconomic slide" mechanism built into the system will be invoked. To ensure that citizens can greet old age at ease, the need to spread and expand private pension schemes complementing the public pension system, including corporate pension plans, has increased.

The current defined-benefit and defined-contribution corporate pension plans were introduced in the early 2000s. Compared with those times, however, the ways people work and live have diversified and the socioeconomic situation has changed, as seen in organizational corporate restructuring such as mergers and acquisitions of companies. This means there is growing demand for flexibility in terms of institutional design. In particular, the spread and expansion of the defined-contribution pension plan has been hampered by its constraints, including the upper limit to contribution amounts and requirements to be met for midway withdrawals, which do not exist under the defined-benefit pension plan.

From the standpoint of seeking an equal footing with the defined-benefit pension plan, ideas have been presented for reviewing the defined-contribution pension plan, including significantly raising the contribution limit and allowing the receipt of a lump-sum withdrawal amount at the time of retirement. There are also calls for the complete liberalization of matching contributions by employees.

Also, in terms of moves to spread and expand corporate pension plans to small and medium-sized businesses -- a topic raised as an issue for consideration in the revised version of the government's Comprehensive Strategy for the Rebirth of Japan -- it is necessary to take steps such as the introduction of a defined-benefit corporate pension plan that simplifies procedures, including one for pension fund verification, as well as the adoption of joint management of administrative operations related to corporate pension plans.

In addition, we call for the following: a review of the personal defined-contribution pension plan in favor of a mechanism in which a wide range of working generations can join, using as reference the Riester pension scheme of Germany and the IRA of the United States; response to the globalization of corporate pensions; and improvements in various taxes, regulations and procedures, including the elimination of the currently frozen special corporate tax on pension assets.

Economic Policy, Social Security