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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 August 27 - September 2  > Child poverty program is most pressing task in Japan
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2014 August 27 - September 2 [WELFARE]

Child poverty program is most pressing task in Japan

September 2, 2014
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The National Diet last year unanimously enacted “a law on measures to counter child poverty” in order to prevent poverty from limiting children’s futures.

An advisory panel of the Cabinet Office in June recommended guidelines for measures to address child poverty which include the setting of numerical targets in reducing child poverty rates; the implementation of a scholarship program; and an increase in the eligible age for childrearing allowance provided to single-parent households.

A government survey later released found that the percentage of children under 18 living in poverty in Japan hit a record-high of 16.3%, which accounts for one out of every six children in Japan.

However, the guidelines approved in a Cabinet meeting on August 29 will not deal with the situation effectively. The Cabinet decided to refrain from improving the childrearing allowance program and introducing a grant-type scholarship program. It even failed to set numerical targets to lower the child poverty rate, causing disappointment to all parties concerned.

The Abe government is backpedalling on its promise to combat child poverty.

The consumption tax hike is imposing further hardships on low-income earners who already suffer from a rise in consumer prices caused by the so-called “Abenomics”. The cut in public assistance payments is having a negative effect on families with school-age children living on welfare assistance or receiving school expense subsidies. The ongoing adverse revision of labor laws will create more low-paid and unstable jobs and will force more young people and parents to suffer economic hardships.

It will be impossible to eliminate child poverty while increasing the poverty level of society as a whole.

The United Nations warns that child poverty indicates the denial of all the rights stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among the 33 OECD countries, Japan is at the worst level in regard to child poverty. It is a pressing task for Japan to tackle this issue.

Past related article:
> Japanese children’s poverty rate hits record high [July 17, 2014]
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