One in six children live in poverty in Japan, supposedly one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
The nation's child poverty rate was a record-high 16.3 percent in 2012, according to figures released July 15 by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
Some children give up on advancing to higher levels in school due to poverty, while others do not get enough to eat. How can we create a society in which a child's economic situation does not control his or her future?
The government plans to release an outline of child poverty countermeasures this summer. In anticipation of this, The Yomiuri Shimbun is examining the current state of affairs and exploring the issues involved.
Rise in divorce boosts child poverty
The child poverty rate represents the proportion of children whose families have incomes below the level that would allow them to live an average life. The criteria are set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Household income is divided by the number of people in the household and each individual is placed into national rankings. Then authorities count the number of children under 18 years old whose families have less than half-Y1.22 million in 2012-the median income.
The child poverty rate has been worsening since 2003. It rose 0.6 percentage point in 2012 compared to three years before.
The increase in one-parent households due to the rising divorce rate is thought to be one cause of the situation. There are thought to be about 1.24 million single-mother families nationwide. They have an average annual income of Y1.81 million, half that of single-father families.
Yet only about 10 percent of single-mother families receive welfare benefits.
New textbooks authorized for use in Japan's senior high schools from April next year contain more descriptions on foreign and defense policies undertaken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, such as the ability to engage in collective self-defense, according to the results of the education ministry's latest textbook screening disclosed Friday. (Japan Today)
A certified private nursery in Hyogo Prefecture that was found to be secretly accepting more children than its designated capacity had also been docking the pay of teachers who came in late by ¥10,000, according to the prefectural government. (Japan Times)
Japan is laying the groundwork for a free education programme for some households that will cover a student's costs from pre-school to college to ensure the country maintains a highly-skilled workforce. (dailymail.co.uk)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has congratulated a graduating class at a junior high school in the city of Miyako in Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan. The region was hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (NHK)