Japan's high child poverty rate driven by an increasing number of single-parent families
ABC -- Mar 02
Japan is one of the world's richest countries but one in six Japanese children now live in poverty - one of the worst rates in the industrialised world.

Poverty is largely hidden in Japan as most go without help for it is seen as a great shame, but the issue is now threatening the country's economic revival.

Nana Kojima is a single mother bringing up two children and is part of Japan's hidden but growing army of working poor.

"I struggle with the rent. Half my income goes on that and then I don't have much left for food and bills," Ms Kojima said.

In Japan more than half a million single mothers live below the poverty line, earning less than $12,000 a year.

Japan's male corporate culture means single mothers mostly work in casual, low-paid jobs.

Ms Kojima works as a waitress for $10 an hour.

"In Japan, single, working mothers are discriminated against," she said.

"We have little chance to progress as our needs are not understood."

The increase in the number of single mothers is fuelling Japan's record child poverty rates.

Community groups are starting to provide help, including volunteers dedicated to making sure children in need get a healthy meal and their mothers have a chance to connect.

The Children's Network group in Tokyo was one of the first to be set up in the Japanese capital just two years ago and it has encouraged more to be established.

News source: ABC
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