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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 19 - 25  > Gov’t should step up efforts to address child poverty problem
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2017 July 19 - 25 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov’t should step up efforts to address child poverty problem

July 19, 2017
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

Child poverty is still a serious problem in Japan. The Welfare Ministry at the end of June published the results of its comprehensive survey of people’s living conditions. According to the survey, the child poverty rate in 2015 was 13.9%. In other words, one in every seven children lived below the “poverty line”. The poverty rate for single-parent households stood at 50.8%, the worst level among major economic powers. Parents’ financial problems are casting a cloud over children’s present well-being and future prospects. However, the Abe government’s measures to redress this problematic situation are insufficient. In addition, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is still promoting his “Abenomics” economic policies which will further increase economic disparities and poverty. In order to address the poverty issue, the need is to change the government’s policies and priorities.

The statistical figures on Japan’s rate of poverty again confirmed how precarious many people’s living conditions are. The relative poverty rate for children aged 17 and younger slightly fell to 13.9% in 2015 from 16.3% in 2012 when the previous survey was conducted. The relative poverty rate, the internationally commonly used indicator, for all ages stood at 15.6%, down from 16.1%.

The relative poverty rate is the percentage of people who live under the poverty line, a minimum necessary income level in each country. This threshold is calculated based on disposal household income and the figure for Japan in 2015 was 1.22 million yen a year. The OECD in 2014 announced that the child poverty rate averaged 13.3% among its 36 member countries. Japan’s rate exceeded this average. This fact shows that solving the issue of social inequality and poverty including the child poverty issue is one of the most pressing tasks for Japan’s politics and society to tackle.

Single-mother households and other single parent households are experiencing more serious financial hardships. Although the poverty rate for these households dropped to 50.8% from 54.6%, it is still at an unacceptably high level. The Welfare Ministry survey found that 82.7% of single mothers have difficulties in making ends meet. The percentage of households having no savings was 37.6% among single mother households, more than two times higher than the 14.9% rate among all households. Evidently, it is essential to provide more financial support to households with children.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t survey finds one in seven children still in poverty [June 28, 2017]
> 45% of schools in Osaka: family financial difficulties result in dental health problems among students [February 24, 2017]
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