In 1961, a national pension exclusively for Japanese people was established. At the time of its establishment, the ages of eligibility were twenty to sixty years old. In order to include all citizens, two measures were introduced. One shortened the required enrollment period of the pension for those who were between thirty-one to forty-nine years old. The other provided a senior welfare pension for those who were older than fifty years of age, and allowed the receipt of a pension without the payment of a premium. When the Ogasawara Islands and Okinawa (the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands) were returned to the Japan, the Japanese government enacted legislation similar to as when the national pension was established so that people of those islands could receive pensions.
In 1982, the nationality clause was eliminated and foreign people were able to join the national pension. In contrast to the previous cases above, measures were not taken at the time. In 1986, the National Pension Act was revised, but just as in 1982, the above mentioned measures were not introduced, either. Therefore a large majority of elderly foreign people could not receive the national pension.
The Japanese government has ratified a law to help both returnees from China and Japanese ineligible to receive a pension because they did not join the national pension. However, the government has not helped foreign people who were unable to join the national pension because of the nationality clause in the law.
Since the government does not help the foreign people without pensions, local governments around the country established a welfare benefits system in the 1980s to provide benefits to foreign elderly people without pensions. However, not all Japanese local governments have this type of benefits system, and the amount of benefits and the people who can receive them depend on local governments. This has made it difficult to help all foreign elderly people without pensions. Remedial measures and systemic revisions by the government are essential to uniformly help people without pensions throughout the country.