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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 June 10 - 16  > Government should hurry to provide support to single-parent families hit especially hard by coronavirus
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2020 June 10 - 16 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Government should hurry to provide support to single-parent families hit especially hard by coronavirus

June 10, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Amid the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the general public is experiencing tough days due to various factors, such as the nationwide school closure, government’s business suspension requests without compensation measures, and delays in payment of coronavirus-related government subsidies. In particular, four million single-parent households are facing serious distress.

In a survey of families with children at the elementary and secondary school levels in Okinawa Prefecture conducted in May by the Okinawa University Institute of Regional Studies and the Okinawa Times, 23% of all respondents said that their earnings more than halved amid the coronavirus pandemic. Among the respondents with an annual income of less than two million yen, 41% answered that their earnings decreased by half or more, including 19% whose earnings dropped to zero. Commenting on the survey results, the Okinawa Times in its May 19 issue pointed out, “Low-income families are facing even greater financial difficulties. It is obvious that the coronavirus has delivered a heavier blow to single parents who work in non-regular, unstable employment”.

In the first place, the poverty rate among single-mother households is much higher than among households of two parents and children, 39% and 15%. The average annual income is only two million yen for single-mother families. The number of requests for labor consultation services from female workers including single mothers surged in March and April.

The Abe government in its second supplementary draft budget proposed a program to provide temporary cash benefits to single-parent households. Under this program, single-parent families who receive childcare allowances are eligible to receive the payment of 50,000 yen for their first child and 30,000 yen each for their second and subsequent children. They can receive another 50,000 yen if a decrease in their earnings is confirmed. Furthermore, non-recipients of the childcare allowances can also claim the payment of 50,000 yen if a reduction in income is verified. The launch of this support program is, of course, good news for single parents. However, it is insufficient as the payment is one-off and the payment will not be made until August or later.

As the coronavirus pandemic will leave the economy with long-lasting damage, economically vulnerable single-parent families will have to endure further financial difficulties for a long time. The government should implement long-term, comprehensive support measures for them from the standpoint of protecting children’s rights and promoting gender equality.

Past related articles:
> Anti-poverty groups take to streets to oppose Abe’s plan to slash livelihood protection benefits [January 29, 2018]
> 40% of single-mother households have no savings at all [June 29, 2017]
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