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kuchikomi

Coronavirus forcing more and more women into poverty

19 Comments

Early this year “Mikako Masuda” (a pseudonym, like all the names in this story) quit a low-paying job and went back to school. She was 31 and tired, after eight years of irregular, precarious and meaningless employment, of going nowhere in life. Her heart was set on change. She would become a nurse, she decided. She’d be of use to society, while at the same time steadying her own finances.

Working part-time at a café and a supermarket, she earned 150,000 yen a month, enough for nursing school tuition and the necessities of daily life. Then in spring came the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her hours were shortened, her earnings  halved.

What could she do? It’s a plight shared by millions nationwide, reports Spa! (Dec 15), the brunt falling disproportionately on women, many of whom work part-time and underpaid. Masuda couldn’t appeal to her parents – they’d opposed her plans from the start. Her back to the wall, she took a plunge that went very much against her grain. Her solution was papa-katsu – offering paid companionship to an older and well-heeled man. The arrangement may or may not involve sex. She made up her mind that in her case it wouldn’t.

She trolled online for “papas” and did well enough. Dinners (usually at expensive restaurants) aside, she takes home on average 150,000 yen a month. She’s not happy, however. The role doesn’t suit her. Now she faces another dilemma. Again online, she made contact with a club that specializes in bringing people together. Sex is optional, but she feels pressure. She could charge 50,000 yen per encounter, she’s told – and why not? she thinks. “Shouldn’t I earn as much as I can while I can?” She’s still hesitating, she tells Spa! – it’s a line she would rather not cross. But she wonders how squeamish she can afford to be.

“Akie Mizuno,” 24, “Yumi Sato,” 26, and “Shizuka Kanamori,” 32, share a suburban Tokyo “share house.” Spa!’s visiting reporter finds it a cramped mess – dining-room-kitchen plus one bedroom – three people and much clutter. Rent is 100,000 yen a month – cheap for Tokyo. Mizuno is a temp worker, Sato a restaurant employee and Kanamori a systems engineer. All suffer from depressed earnings, and the enforced togetherness of long hours at home tell on their nerves.

Mizuno was earning 150,000 yen a month before the pandemic, down now to 130,000. She teleworks out of necessity – certainly not by choice. Cabin fever aside, she had nothing to work on. She had to buy herself a desk, which cost, she says resentfully, 50,000 yen out of her own pocket.

Sato works reduced hours at her restaurants, taking home 70,000 to 80,000 a month. It’s hard to live on that no matter how many corners you cut. Government assistance is available, Spa! reminds her. She is aware of that, she says, “but the application procedure is complicated, I don’t understand it.” Complicating it further are the facts that she’s never filed a tax return and the share house rent isn’t paid in her name.

The women buy groceries in bulk on line – whatever’s cheap and keeps without going bad. Pasta, for instance: 5 kg for 1,700 yen. It’s not health food, but two pasta meals a day at least keep you going.

Kanamori, the third member of the group, is the best off. She’s skilled, and employed full-time, though her earnings too are down. Spa! doesn’t tell us whether friendship or mere happenstance and convenience binds these women, but Kanamori is plainly not happy about paying 40,000 yen toward the rent while the others pay 30,000 yen each. She pays the utilities too.

Spa! wonders if living this way – poor, stressed, irritable, with too little fresh air and exercise and little hope of much changing anytime soon – isn’t as destructive of health as the virus.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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Sato works reduced hours at her restaurants, taking home 70,000 to 80,000 a month. It’s hard to live on that no matter how many corners you cut. Government assistance is available, Spa! reminds her. She is aware of that, she says, “but the application procedure is complicated, I don’t understand it.” Complicating it further are the facts that she’s never filed a tax return and the share house rent isn’t paid in her name.

Are we supposed to feel sorry for Sato?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

And men became super rich in the meantime, or what? Come on, the whole society is equally affected, not only women, minority groups, blacks, lgbtxq and the like. I just don’t like your specific intonations, as all people, from big businesses down to low-paid workers are getting poorer. Some few exemptions prove the common rule...

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

And men became super rich in the meantime, or what?

The article doesn't say that. This article is about women, about the problems that woman are facing in these difficult times, and how they are trying to survive. Absolutely no comparison has been made between men and women. In fact the word "man" appears only once.

So funny, how the self-centered are unable to deal with an article that doesn't involve them.

Women are bound to suffer hardships - less likely to be hired full-time, more likely to be hired part-time on an insecure or no contract, more likely to be fired, less able to get a loan. This article is very relevant.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I am sorry but the internet is FULL of stories about women being affected by this, that & a million other things!

Stories about men are a rarity & men dont have the oldest profession to fall back on as much as women do!

Look this SUCKS for everyone, just do your best, you all wanted equality & you have it, just put on some NIKES & DO IT!

but the application procedure is complicated, I don’t understand it.” Complicating it further are the facts that she’s never filed a tax return

Are you kidding me! GO to the place where applications are made and .......ask for some help!! And taxes, .....yikes, she might be delinquent or maybe she is owed REFUNDS....

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Another man making it about himself again; plus some laughable ignorance.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The Japanese Government should provide an Unconditional Universal Basic Income of at least 3,245,550.00 yen (equivalent of $30,000 United States Dollars) to all of its citizens. Further, the amount should always be adjusted for inflation. If an Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect, it would enable anyone who ever falls on difficult times to have a cushion. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income would be the equivalent of throwing someone who is struggling to swim a life jacket. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income should also begin in neighboring countries like Taiwan, Mainland China and so forth.

The funding of Universal Basic Income should be done by having the government revise the spending. For instance, get rid of wasteful spending. Another thing is to adjust the taxes. Anyone making under 5,197,800.00 yen ($50,000 United States Dollars) should pay zero taxes whether it is income tax, property tax, sales tax. Any taxation necessary should be financed by anyone making considerably more. In other words, the middle or lower income staff members should not have to pay a single yen in taxes. Every single tax yen should be financed by the wealthy. Anyone who is not wealthy should not have to be taxed on any way, shape or form. Therefore, a redistribution of the wealth could be another source of the Universal Basic Income. Nevertheless I know government itself could afford to finance a Universal Basic Income.

Masuda, Mizuno, Sato and Kanamori would benefit tremendously with a Universal Basic Income for eternity. They could feel more relaxed and not have to feel stressed out. These four individuals are excellent excellent examples of someone who could use a Universal Basic Income.

Steady Income of 3,245,550.00 yen (equivalent of $30,000 United States Dollars) should not be negotiable such amount needs to be an entitlement. Also, free shelter, free health insurance, free food, free water, etc should be an entitlement.

This is absolutely ridiculous how we have someone who who lives a lavish lifestyle by owning multiple mansions, multiple high priced vehicles, extremely expensive designer shoes, extremely expensive jackets, their own private nets, their own limousine driver, their own personal chef, their own beach, etc and then we have someone else cannot even afford a small room with two full bathrooms, a studio with two full bathrooms or an Internet cafe room. This inequality needs to end immediately. As a result, Universal Basic Income needs to become reality immediately. The Government needs to get cracking on making this Universal Basic Income a reality immediately.

In conclusion, if Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect for eternity, everyone would be able to sleep better at night, have less stress and therefore have a better quality of life.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan should look to Canada when it comes to economic support. While the response has not been perfect, the gov has managed to shield people from the worst of the economic hardship of the pandemic. Again, its not perfect, but the response has been pretty good on the whole.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

baroque1888

UBI is an excellent idea. Agree 100%. I would also add completely free health care and education for people until at least HS. I would support free college tuition as well, but if not, then very cheap tuition at least.

Other things I would suggest would be not to have a blanket consumption tax, but to remove or decrease taxes on necessities like groceries and diapers and other essentials for children while actually offsetting that tax drop with a tax hike on non essential products.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

We need more female political leaders to change this. Showa era is over. Even princess still needs father's permission to marry!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan is a government and society run by Showa Ossan who probably don't even know the price of lettuce. This is a country that has a severe declining birth rate that can't or won't protect the women and children who are literally the future of its existence. This pandemic has only exacerbated and has brought into more focus all the social ills that society already had, it is not the cause. The lack of action is inexcusable but sadly not surprising.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

For living in Tokyo without family support, the wages given in the story are clearly poverty level.

There are schemes at Hello Work for people to retrain in the health and care sectors. My wife was offered free college fees, a free train pass, and the dole itself (120,000 yen a month for her) for two years to become a care giver. I would recommend anyone wanting to retrain for health or care work to at least look into it before turning to prostitution/sugar daddies.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Women are bound to suffer hardships - less likely to be hired full-time, more likely to be hired part-time on an insecure or no contract, more likely to be fired, less able to get a loan. This article is very relevant.

That is true but if someone is too dumb to bother applying for the available help, they don't get my sympathy. She's 26 for god sake, not 12, so she needs to grow up and take some responsibility.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

This article is fiction.

The fabricated details are laughable.

No one making 130,000 yen a month is going to blow 50,000 yen on a desk. You can buy one at any recycle shop for a pittance.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@baroque1888 *The Japanese Government should provide an Unconditional Universal Basic Income of at least 3,245,550.00 yen (equivalent of $30,000 United States Dollars) to all of its citizens. Further, the amount should always be adjusted for inflation. If an Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect, it would enable anyone who ever falls on difficult times to have a cushion. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income would be the equivalent of throwing someone who is struggling to swim a life jacket. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income should also begin in neighboring countries like Taiwan, Mainland China and so forth. *WHAT HAVE PEOPLE BEEN DOING ALL THEIR LIVES?? DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD GET HAND OUTS? IF THATS THE CASE NOTHING WOULD GET DONE. EVERYONE WOULD JUST SIT AROUND AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT HANDOUT. WHERE IS THIS MONEY GOING TO COME FROM ESPECIALLY WHEN ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE DOING NOTHING??

This is absolutely ridiculous how we have someone who who lives a lavish lifestyle by owning multiple mansions, multiple high priced vehicles, extremely expensive designer shoes, extremely expensive jackets, their own private nets, their own limousine driver, their own personal chef, their own beach, etc and then we have someone else cannot even afford a small room with two full bathrooms, a studio with two full bathrooms or an Internet cafe room. This inequality needs to end immediately. WHY BLAME THOSE WHO HAVE LAVISH LIFESTYLES HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT PERHAPS THE TOO HAVE COME FROM THE BOTTOM WRUNG AND WORKED THEIR TALES OFF TO HAVE SUCH NICE THINGS. I AGREE TO SOME POINT PEOPLE SHOULD GET HELP BUT DON'T BLAME THOSE WHO HAVE IT ALL AT THE EXPENSE OF THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE NOTHING ITS NOT FAIR! SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST PLAIN LAZY!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD GET HAND OUTS? IF THATS THE CASE NOTHING WOULD GET DONE. EVERYONE WOULD JUST SIT AROUND AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT HANDOUT.

Are you really that lazy? That's pathetic. I certainly wouldn't be sitting around, that would be safety net money, barely out of poverty. I doubt more than a few unmotivated humans wouldn't want more.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So Mikako has had no career objectives till now and no stable jobs, can always go back to her parents and now it's considering prostitution. Mizuno is awful at managing money and her other friend is too dang lazy to fill a few forms or even ask for help. How are any of these things happening to them because of the fact that they're women? Looks more like cases of really bad decisions in life and laziness.

Sucks being poor and have little money. Specially when you can't do much rent, pension and med insurance take at least 100,000 yen a month. Plus everything else. But should have used better stories in the article if they really wanted to show that the pandemic is forcing when into poverty (single moms, etc).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

At the end of the day, government support is taxpayers' money. It's fine to say the government should do this and that, but they get the money from us to do it. Do you want to support Mikako?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

as a visionary said a few months ago (radio or TV I don't remember), when hard times are coming, the quality at the prostitution joints goes up

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No one making 130,000 yen a month is going to blow 50,000 yen on a desk. You can buy one at any recycle shop for a pittance.

That was my thought too. Hasn't this woman ever heard of Ikea or Nitori. Did she buy an antique desk or something? Just a cheap wooden table will suffice.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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