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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 November 30 - December 6  > NPO head calls for more public spending to combat child poverty problem
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2016 November 30 - December 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

NPO head calls for more public spending to combat child poverty problem

December 1, 2016
More and more children are falling into poverty with the economic disparity widening in Japan. A representative of a non-profit organization working to support poor children in an Akahata article published on December 1 stressed the need to increase public spending to tackle this problem.

A survey that the Osaka City government conducted in summer this year shows how severe the situation is. Osaka’s child poverty rate is the second highest in the country. According to the survey of 28,000 households with elementary or/and junior high school students, one in four respondents said that their household budget was “in the red” last year. The percentage of those who answered that they have no savings stood at 44% and the percentage of those who earn two million yen or less per year exceeded 10%. In addition, about 3% said that they had given up having their children see a doctor within the past six months due to financial reasons.

Tokumaru Yukiko, who heads the Osaka-based nonprofit organization, Child Poverty Action Osaka, pointed out that an increase in public spending is the key to resolving this problem.

Tokumaru explained that the NPO provides free dinners for poor families three days a week. She pointed out that among the participants, there are boys and girls who are rarely given meals at home and depend almost solely on school lunches. Tokumaru went on to say that these children are suffering from poverty because their parents fell into poverty due to various causal factors such as divorce or serious illness. These kids unfortunately need to be supported by other adult members of society, she added.

The NPO head underscored the need to increase financial support for poor families. She said that she knows a woman who borrowed money for daily expenses after becoming pregnant and was unable to work. Tokumaru went on to say, this woman’s child is now a preteen but she is still paying off her debt. This is totally unacceptable, Tokumaru said.

In Japan, many female workers have no choice but to accept low-paid unstable jobs. That is why single mothers often have to take on more than one job to make ends meet. Tokumaru stressed that an increase in child-rearing allowances will enable these struggling mothers to spend more time with their children.

Tokumaru also argued that the national and local governments should use more money to increase the wages of workers at public facilities providing care and assistance to needy children. She went on to say that child consultation centers and children’s homes are short-staffed. The NPO chief stressed that her organization can offer only a small amount of support for poor children, which is not a fundamental solution to address the issue of poverty. She stated that public child welfare facilities deserve a larger budget because they are indispensable in ensuring continuous support for children in need.

Tokumaru said that Japan’s public spending for education and child-rearing is at the lowest level among developed countries. As one in six children in Japan is said to be in a state of poverty, the government should drastically increase the budget for childcare support.
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