(社説)子どもの貧困 ひとり親世帯を救おう

July 30, 2014
EDITORIAL: Labor reforms for single mothers needed to alleviate child poverty
(社説)子どもの貧困 ひとり親世帯を救おう

The government needs to first tackle the here-and-now problems of poverty if any improvements are to be made in the situation.

Japan’s child poverty rate hit a record high of 16.3 percent in 2012. This translates into one in six children living in households with incomes lower than half of the average.

The rate is among the worst in the developed world. In addition, Japan has been unable to curb the rise for nearly 30 years.

The government is working on establishing guidelines to combat child poverty, but the question is what to put in the guidelines.

A panel of experts recommends a broad range of measures, with special emphasis on providing education-related support.

Education, which gives youngsters the skills to be self-supportive, is a vital tool for severing the cycle of poverty from generation to generation.

But to save children who are struggling in poverty now, the poverty of their parents or guardians needs to be addressed first. And the gravest cases are single-parent families–especially single-mother families–half of which live below the poverty line.

About 80 percent of single mothers are working, but their average annual income is a measly 1.8 million yen ($17,600). About 10 percent of single mothers live on welfare. The root of the problems faced by these women lies deep; working does not get them out of poverty.

One major factor that keeps them in poverty is that half of these women are working unstable, part-time jobs. One bold step the government could consider to correct this situation would be to subsidize companies that hire low-income single mothers for full-time positions.

Basically, the problems stem from the nation’s employment structure. Unless efforts are made to enable part-time workers to switch to full-time jobs, the poor will always remain poor. And the working conditions of part-time workers need to be improved, too.

During a meeting of the experts panel, a demand was made for bigger child-support checks for low-income single-parent families. The demand came from such families themselves and their supporters. This should rate a high priority.

The elimination of poverty is a long-term challenge. This is obvious from the fact that Japan has been unable to curb its child poverty rate for decades. Obviously, the government must not think its work is done once it establishes the guidelines for combating child poverty.

In fact, to ensure that the efficacy of the recommended measures is closely examined down the road, the guidelines should spell out numerical targets for lowering the poverty rate and raising the rates of youngsters advancing to higher education and finding jobs afer graduation.

Private organizations around the nation provide teaching and food aid to children from poor families, and they are proving quite helpful. But the reality is that such organizations are struggling financially and must rely heavily on the goodwill of their dedicated members.

At the meeting of the experts panel, a proposal was made to create a fund, sponsored by both the public and private sectors, to finance the activities of those goodwill organizations.

We certainly support such a fund, as it is the responsibility of society at large to raise the next generation. We believe in individual citizens providing whatever help they can, not only to their own children and grandchildren.

–The Asahi Shimbun, July 30

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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