Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare


Social Welfare and War Victims' Relief Bureau

Working toward the establishment of user-oriented social welfare system

The Social Welfare and War Victims' Relief Bureau is implementing measures to promote social welfare in a wide rage of areas. It plans and operates basic systems common to all sectors of social welfare, such as the social welfare corporation system, welfare offices, charity fund raising association, securing of personnel for social welfare services, and improvement of infrastructure for volunteer activities. The bureau also does the planning and operation of the welfare system, works out measures for homeless people and gives administrative guidance to consumer cooperatives. Other tasks include memorial services for the war dead in World War 11, medical care and payment of pension for the bereaved families and the war wounded, and support for return of war-displaced Japanese to home and their settlement and independence in Japan.

Promotion of basic structural reform of social welfare system

The basic framework of the existing social welfare system of our country was created in the 1940s as an emergency measure to cope with various problems of those days involving the war wounded, orphans, poverty and so on. Over the past 50 years since then, there have been great changes in the climate of Japan's welfare, such as the arrival of a society with fewer children and the improvement of social welfare facilities. People's awareness of welfare has also changed from their expectation of the government to play a role of guardians to its support for users' independence and calls for their full participation in welfare affairs. In response to such a request of the times, efforts have been made to reinforce a series of measures in individual areas of welfare, which are designed to promote respect for users' options in welfare services, such as the establishment of a nursing care insurance system. In the field of our social welfare, however, nothing has been done to change the framework of its common bases, such as the social welfare corporation system and welfare offices. Therefore, the Social Welfare and War Victims' Relief Bureau considers it vital to implement a drastic reform urgently, based on the idea that the future of social welfare lies in helping individuals become independent and live a worthwhile life with dignity as a human being in their homes and communities, regardless of their handicaps and ages.

Purposes of reform

Efforts toward reform

The Social Welfare and War Victims' Relief Bureau has been energetically tackling the reform of the basic structure of social welfare since the summer of 1997. A reform bill was submitted to the Diet in March 2000 and passed in May of the same year. The bureau is now making full efforts to put in effect new laws such as the "Social Welfare Law."

Memorial services and other related activities including the gathering of the remains of the war dead

With the attendance of the Emperor and Empress, the national memorial service for the war dead is held on August 15 of every year to comfort the spirits of 3.1 million people killed in the last war.
The ashes of the war dead are still left overseas. Out of 2.4 million people killed overseas, the remains of about half (1.23 million) have been gathered so far. At present, the bureau is mainly gathering the ashes of those who died during their detention in the former Soviet Union. It also makes a pilgrimage to pay homage to the war dead and erects memorials to war victims in Okinawa, Iwojima Islands, and the former overseas battlefields.

Return of war-displaced Japanese in China and promotion of their settlement and independence in Japan

The Social Welfare and War Victims' Relief Bureau investigates Japanese orphans left in China following the end of the war, promotes their return home and supports their settlement and independence in Japan.

Operation of Showa Hall

The bureau opened Showa Hall (at Kudan Minami of Chiyoda Ward) with the theme of hardships people suffered in their lives during and after the war. Many people have visited the hall.