Nikkei story

>   For those who think that Japan will pull out all the stops and throw a lot of money at the
>   recovery effort:


Also, the highest numbers I’ve seen are maybe 5% of GDP spread out over maybe 5 years.

Y2.5tln In Pension Funding May Go To Recovery Effort

March 22 (Nikkei)— The government is entertaining a proposal to divert money supposed to cover its underfunded contributions to the basic national pension into a supplementary budget for recovering from the disaster in eastern Japan.

The draft fiscal 2011 budget contains about 2.5 trillion yen for maintaining the government’s 50% share of the pension program’s cost. This money is to be drawn from the special-account funds that have become known as the buried treasure of Kasumigaseki, the seat of Japan’s bureaucracy.

This buried treasure is under consideration in the government as a solution to the problem of paying for the recovery efforts. Cutbacks to a monthly child care subsidy and other banner policies of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan appear unlikely to free up the necessary funding, which some put at 10 trillion yen.

The proportion of the government’s annual pension contributions that can be paid out of tax revenues has risen incrementally and now stands at 36.5%. Buried treasure has been used to make up the difference since fiscal 2009.

The fiscal 2011 spending plan follows this pattern with a roughly 2.5 trillion yen top-up. About 1.2 trillion yen will come from surplus funds held by the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency and another 1.1 trillion yen or so from the surplus in the fiscal investment and loan program special account.

The deficit bond authorization legislation needed to use the buried treasure faces an uncertain future in the Diet. Opposition to diverting money supposed to go to the pension program is strong within the ruling coalition.

The government will consider tapping into pension fund assets to cover its fiscal 2011 contribution — something that, in the absence of a clear direction for tax reform, could weaken the program’s fiscal base.