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Resolution Requesting to Break the Chain of Poverty and to Realize Respectable Living for All People

It is said that Japan is an economic power, however, poverty and economic gaps are widening in this country and the number of people who are unable to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living is increasing.


Due to increase of unemployment, unstable employment, and jobs with lower pay, over 2 million people have faced the difficulties in maintaining livelihood, borrowed money from moneylenders at a high interest rate, and failed to be multiple borrowers. In addition, people lose their jobs, families, and houses one after another and such conditions reproduce and worsen from generation to generation, that is, the chain of poverty occurs. Tragedies are continuously reported that people who had been omitted from the society died from starvation or committed suicide because of economic hardship.


Under such situation, the public assistance is the final safety net for social security, however, welfare offices often illegally refuse even receipts of applications for the public assistance reasoning that "you can work", "you have a duty supporter", "you are homeless", "you have too high house rent", and so on. It is estimated that only 20% of those who are eligible to receive the public assistance actually receive welfare payments. Furthermore, the Public Assistance Law does not apply to foreign nationals and it has been practically applying mutatis mutandis to only a partial foreign nationals. Recently the government is accelerating measures to cut the budget for the public assistance by abolishing the additional public assistance for aging people, decreasing the additional public assistance for single mothers, lowering basic amounts, and restraining the application of the public assistance.


However, the state and local governments have the responsibility for breaking the chain of poverty and realizing respectable living for all people in light of Article 25 of the Constitution of Japan protecting the right to maintain wholesome and cultured living, Article 13 of the Constitution of Japan protecting the right to pursue happiness on the basis of the principle of individual dignity, and Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights requiring to ensure the realization of the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living.


Therefore, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations strongly urges the state and local governments to face the fact that poverty and the economic gaps are expanding and to undertake the following measures.


I. Public Assistance System


  1. The social security should be enhanced by stopping cutting down the public assistance, increasing the amount of the basic pension, and actively applying the Public Assistance Law.
  2. It should be confirmed that the application for the public assistance is a right and the illegal operation at welfare offices, which is violating the right, should be immediately corrected.
  3. Recommendations on Revision of the Law
    (1)The current Public Assistance Law should be amended in order to reform the legal system for the public assistance to the one which more actively guarantees the right to living. The amendment should include change of the law's name, relaxation of the requirements on holding of assets, simplification of the property investigation, widening the scope of the education allowance, establishment of a body operated by a third party to receive complaints, and obliging investigation on poverty such as an acquisition rate of welfare recipients.
    (2)The legal system for guaranteeing the right to living should establish a right of persons who are using the public assistance system to request advice from administrative agencies and an obligation of the administrative agencies to publicize and provide information on the social security system for ensuring the system is well known by public.
    (3)It is necessary to specify that all people including foreign nationals are actors who may enjoy the right to living.


II. Improvement and Enhancement of Safety Net around the Public Assistance System


  1. It is necessary to improve and enhance the public loan system for low-income persons, which lends to them money without interest and surety.
  2. It is necessary to establish and improve comprehensive and highly specialized information desks which are easily accessible for people who have economic hardship such as multiple borrowers.

We have recognized that the JFBA has not actively acted for those who are economically vulnerable and has not made sufficient effort to resolve problems on the application for the public assistance and on homeless people. Therefore, we have firmly decided to make all our efforts to support those who are facing difficulties in maintaining their livelihood, and will conduct research, make recommendations, and support counseling services so that more attorneys would engage in the related activities.

Japan Federation of Bar Associations
October 6, 2006 at the JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights

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