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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 January 24 - 30  > JCP Koike in Diet interpellation raises 'health inequality' issue
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2018 January 24 - 30 TOP3 [POLITICS]

JCP Koike in Diet interpellation raises 'health inequality' issue

January 27, 2018
Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira in interpellation at the House of Councilors plenary session on January 26 questioned Prime Minister Abe on behalf of the JCP regarding the issue of "health disparities".

Koike first showed the results of a survey of 20,000 senior citizens, which was conducted by a project team of university and national lab researchers, and pointed out that low-income elderly have a three-fold greater mortality than high-income elderly.

According to the survey, among the elderly whose annual income is less than 1.5 million yen, the percentage of those who answered, "I have refrained from going to see a doctor because of difficulty affording medical fees," is 1.4 times higher than those who earn more than three million yen in annual income.

Other studies show that for children of low income families, the risk of developing asthma is 1.3 times higher than children in higher income family environments. Children with more than five cavities doubles in low income households as compared to higher income families.

Many experts, researchers, and academic associations agree that the lower the household income or the less stable the job, the higher the risk for illnesses and mortality. The World Health Organization (WHO) focuses on the correction of "health disparities" and Japan's Health and Welfare Ministry also stresses the need to redress "health inequalities".

Koike said that the degree of stress as well as eating habits vary according to social factors such as differences in wages and job status, and asked Prime Minister Abe Shinzo if he is aware that seriously-widening economic gaps lie behind those "health disparities".

The Abe government has repeatedly deregulated labor legislation so as to expand or perpetuate non-regular employment. In the area of social welfare services, the Abe regime continues cutting back on its spending on pension, medical, and nursing-care programs and imposes heavier burdens associate with higher pension premiums, medical fees at hospitals, and nursing-care insurance premiums on the general public.

Koike said, "These government policies are the major cause of health disparities, distressing the lower and middle-class and preventing their access to public healthcare and nursing-care programs."

He demanded that the government stop cutbacks in social welfare spending and secure the finances needed for the expansion of its welfare services based on a progressive tax system.

After his interpellation, asked for a comment by the press, Koike criticized PM Abe for not responding to adequately to his questions.

Past related issue:
> 63 people died due to delays in seeking treatment at hospitals because of poverty [March 23, 2016]
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