Jul 16, 2013

Japan: A Constitutional basis for a citizen dividend?

Japan's Constitution has this rather special citizen right:
Article 25. All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.
In all spheres of life, the State shall use its endeavors for the promotion and extension of social welfare and security, and of public health.
As a negative right, Article 25 can have a positive effect combating Japan's poverty, by Amelia S. Kegan
"As long as poverty continues to exist, governments have the
responsibility to work towards its eradication. They must act forcefully and follow through on commitments made to alleviate poverty and ensure everyone can maintain a minimum standard of living. The three branches of government must work together and challenge each other to fulfill this obligation. Japan made a commitment to its people in Article 25 in this effort to eliminate poverty. The Article has substantial potential, but in practice, the judiciary refuses to allow the provision to achieve this potential.
Recognition of the concrete, negative right within Article 25 and an 
unwavering commitment to enforce it provides an interpretation consistent with what the drafters originally intended. Such an interpretation of Article 25 harmonizes the Showa Constitution with international treaties and could provide significant progress for the Japanese people in the crusade to achieve a country in which everyone truly can maintain that minimum standard of wholesome and cultured living."

A citizen dividend, which is currently 100% taxed away, will meet this right. People will be able to "maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living."

In the publication by Kegan, it is suggested that Article 25 can be used to prevent the government from acts detrimental to it. For example, the minister cannot withdraw welfare payment when such a withdrawal will affect a person's "minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living."

It is not clear whether the courts will agree that the government cannot "confiscate" citizen dividend since such a confiscation is contrary to Article 25. Someone in favor of a citizen dividend or a basic income for Japan can try to make a case for it.

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