Tokyo court rules against government welfare benefit cut in 18th such decision

A court in Tokyo has overturned the central government's decision to lower welfare benefits in phases from 2013. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say this is the 18th such ruling that found the decision illegal.

The Tokyo District Court handed down the ruling on Thursday.

The case was filed by 48 residents in Tokyo, including Machida City and Sumida Ward, against the central government and municipalities concerned.

The lawsuit came after the national government reduced the amount of public livelihood assistance by up to 10 percent between 2013 and 2015. The government said the cut was based on the falling prices found in its survey.

The plaintiffs argued that they were forced to live under minimum standards of living as a result of the cut.

They demanded that the government revoke the reduction by the local municipalities and pay them compensation.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Shinoda Kenji said there were problems with the government's use of its survey on household income and spending in calculating price declines.

Shinoda said the survey did not properly reflect the expenditures of households on welfare. He noted that most of the rates of price declines may have been overestimated.

He said there were errors and defects in the process and procedure used to make the government's decision.
The chief judge said the cut violated the Public Assistance Act, which guarantees minimum standards of living.

The ruling ordered nullification of the cut, but turned down the plaintiffs' claim for state compensation.

The plaintiffs' lawyers say more than 1,000 people have filed similar lawsuits across the nation.

They say 18 rulings, including the latest one, have acknowledged the illegality of the government decision.

In 14 other rulings, similar claims have been rejected.