How would you feel if the government lost your Social Security records, so that years of work and payments into the pension system were effectively erased? That’s exactly what happened in Japan, and the government is still cleaning up the mess. During the 1970s, the records of thousands of Japanese workers went missing as they were being computerized. Part of the problem was the inherent vagueness of the Japanese language, with its complex kanji names that can be pronounced in different ways, and the lack of a standard taxpayer ID number like Social Security numbers in the U.S. added to the confusion. Anger over the pension errors was a contributing factor in the defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party last year, as voters looked for payback from politicians. I was surprised to find that I, too, was a victim of the great Disappearing Pension Payment Problem, and four years I’d spent working as a teacher were not recorded properly. Fortunately I was able to get the situation straightened out okay.
The Japanese government has had to scramble to find lost pension payments.