Over 50% of single Japanese women in their 20s struggle to make ends meet, survey says

By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Life in Japan can be tough in many ways – long hours at the office and overcrowded trains being two of the biggest difficulties – but with the country being so clean and the crime rates so low, you would think that poverty isn’t really an issue in the country. Unfortunately, it is — it’s just a hidden problem.

The cost of living is high in Japan, especially in Tokyo, because amenities that might be considered basic in other countries, like fruit, education, and even the process of moving into a new apartment are expensive. In fact, according to a recent survey done by financial news site Money Book, single women in their 20s are especially struggling to stay afloat, with more than 50 percent of respondents claiming that money is tight.

The survey is part of an endeavor to see how well the government’s efforts to reform the work environment and help promote women in the workforce are working. 350 twenty-something women from across Japan were surveyed about their work, salary, and expenses, and the results were pretty interesting. To start with, when asked about their salaries, 49.9 percent of respondents were earning less than 200,000 yen per month.

For reference, the rent of a decent one-room studio apartment in Tokyo usually starts at about 70,000 yen per month, but can go up to 100,000 or more, depending on location, size, and quality. At that rate, a salary of 200,000 yen could be pretty tight. You could make it on far less, but you would have to sacrifice a lot of the things that you enjoy. In fact, the average monthly expenses for these women came out to 143,685 yen, with the largest number of women (28.6 percent) reporting that they spend between 100,000 and 150,000 yen every month on bills and necessities.

(“Monthly expenses” included rent, utilities, phone bills, transportation, pension and health insurance payments, debt repayments, and food, as well as hobby expenses, beauty care, and other miscellaneous expenses, but not, seemingly, things like entertainment and eating out.)

Budgeting experts generally recommend that you designate 50 percent of your salary to rent, bills and necessities, then 20 to savings and 30 to “wants” like shopping or hobbies or other things you do for fun. But Japanese women appear to be putting more than that recommended number to bills, which might be a reason why they feel like money is tight.

Furthermore, 21.2 respondents reported that their expenses exceeded their income, meaning that their net income was less than zero. This likely means that they’re using credit cards to make ends meet, which is a dangerous habit. Coupled with the 14.6 percent who said their net income is between zero and 10,000 yen, that means a good third of this sample population is not able to put aside any money for savings.

The women work in different industries, but a large proportion, 33.5 percent, work in offices, including government work, sales, office administration, planning, reception, and data entry. 13.3 percent work in the service industry (sales clerks, cash register operators, etc), and 9.5 percent work from home. But of those working women, 36.6 percent said that they have more than one job, which seems to imply that, even working two jobs, many women are struggling to make ends meet.

However, according to Akirako Yamamoto of FP Woman, a financial planning company, this could be less sinister than it seems. There is a large pay gap between women in their early twenties and late 20s, she says. As younger women graduate from college and become fully fledged members of society, taking on full-time work, they begin to earn more than their younger counterparts, who are generally working part-time jobs to earn pocket change while in college. Yet still, those women who are working multiple jobs are doing it to supplement their low incomes, which is a significant point to keep in mind.

While these statistics all paint a general picture of these women’s lives, one question really honed in on each of the women’s personal experiences: “How do you feel about your monthly income and expenditures?” While about 43.4 percent of respondents feel okay with their financial situation, with 11.4 percent saying, “I’ve got plenty of wiggle room” and 32 percent saying “I’m doing fine”, the majority don’t feel comfortable with their finances.

47.1 percent said “Money is a little tight” and 9.4 percent said “Money is very tight”. Some participants also added responses like, “I can’t seem to get a permanent full-time job, so I’m worried about my employment/income”, and “No matter how much I work I can’t earn enough to offset my expenses”. Others talked about how this has affected their lives: “I’ve stopped carrying my bank card and credit cards around and am trying not to spend money”, and “I gave up my hobbies and lost friends because I stopped going out with them.” Through the answers provided in this survey, it’s clear that some women in their 20s are struggling to manage their rising expenses.

While this is a small sample study, it still paints a pretty dismal picture for women, who seem to regularly face discrimination in the hiring process and in the workplace itself. We can only hope that the results of this study will lead to policies that will help make life easier for women in Japan, because finding solutions for female poverty could also result in fixing a myriad of other problems in Japan, including the declining birth rate.

In the meantime, however, we may have stumbled upon one reason why young women tend to prefer marrying rich men and becoming housewives over staying in the workforce: working doesn’t appear to yield nearly as much reward as marrying rich.

Source: Canvas via Nico Nico News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Survey asks Japanese women if they could marry a man who’s rich but ugly

-- Survey reveals that Japanese women’s ideal husband is surprisingly ordinary

-- Survey asks Japanese women if they could date a man who earns less money than they do

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Why does this article only focus on women? To the best of my knowledge, both men and women in their 20s struggle to make ends meet. If the writer of this article feels that only women struggle, then at least show some comparison.

23 ( +25 / -2 )

Probably due to wage gap they focused on women

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

It’s definitely easier for young women to make ends meet when struggling.

1 ( +14 / -13 )

AtariToday  08:52 am JST

Probably due to wage gap they focused on women

But Atari, my daughters are paid the same as their male counterparts

7 ( +13 / -6 )

this study is proves nothing with such small sample number. The news report is just to emphasis that "young single women" should marry old rich salarymen

we may have stumbled upon one reason why young women tend to prefer marrying rich men and becoming housewives over staying in the workforce: working doesn’t appear to yield nearly as much reward as marrying rich.*

just another disgusting news report by SoraNews24 supported by JT

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Full marks to any Japanese person, male or female, who could live at home but has moved out and is trying to do it on their own. I know it's hard financially, but good luck to you!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

lets dissect this..

if you dont earn around 180,000 and single, living alone in your own apartment. You are making some bad choices, it is either your profession, your choice of housing or your choice of city.

2.if around 180,000 + makes you struggle, you again making some bad choices in shopping and so on.

3.i would expect that men earning that much, living alone would struggle much more.

it is very often that I see among people here is the attitude to spend will beyond their means... always strikes me as crazy ... especially the mad card loans...

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Fruit is a "basic amenity"??

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Basically what Alex Einz said.

If you struggle, part of the problem comes from your own choices.

Like living in central Tokyo because it's close to big stations like shinjuku, and because you don't want to commute 1h to work.

Neither school nor most of the parents teach kids about budget, unfortunately you have to figure it out on your own and many just don't...

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

many young women in Japan ( provided they look ok and can have basic social skills) have perfected free entertainment,dining and gifting .... their live has become much easier due to such amazing technological advances such as tinder and such...

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

They are consider lucky, despite struggling, still be able to live in single & private rented house / apato.

Many young working adult (if not the majority) in the other developing Asian countries are living in a shared house or even room!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

as a guy, in my early 20s I was a student and living out of a 150,000 jpy/month scholarship. In Tokyo, two years in a dormitory, then I moved to a cheap apartment. I didn't spend much on clothes or shopping, nor on restaurants or expensive food. But I did have enough money to go out drinking from time to time, go on a trip, and go back to Europe once a year. I wasn't "feeling comfortable" with my income, but it was ok. No Vuitton bags for me

0 ( +3 / -3 )


Your daughters are outliers. Most women in the world get paid less than men for the same job. But that isn't the real problem. The major issue is that women will continuously get passed up for promotions and pay raises just because she gets married, a company thinks she will get married one day, or because most companies view women in Japan as having a limited shelf life because they may have a family and leave the workplace. So they don't invest in them.

The cost of living is high in Japan, especially in Tokyo,

Can we change this sentence? Osaka was recently voted the most expensive city. Take a backseat Tokyo.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Lots of privilege commenting here...

A great many people, both male and female, are living just above the poverty line in Japan.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

AgentX, they might infact live just above the poverty line, but the problem is while they complain about it.. they take out card loans to play pachinko or buy Vuitton bags... or make kids like there is no tomorrow with similar braindead partners.

the issue aint the money but what you do with it.

There is no issue at al living comfortably in Japan while making around 150,000 in ur 20s... want couple of dinners, make another 3-40000 by zangyo or baito.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )


People living below poverty line are for most, people doing baito, or fulltime job buth with kids and 1 salary, this is not the discussion here (oh and many are also below poverty line because they gamble, you can look it up)

But i see you can throw out meaningless trendy words like "privilege", without knowing who you're talking too. good for you. For my experience when tokyo became too expensive for my salary I move to saitama, yes, I didn't stay in a crapy situation to complain after that the end of the month is difficult.

Again, if you're in your 20's, no kids, and struggle with a new employee salary, then this is your own fault. And don't throw at me the 2% exception please.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

You are right Agent X. Far too many comments making disparaging assumptions.

There is an article right here dated today reporting how wages will not be raised and comments how wages have stagnated over the last 20 years.

But sure, it's peoples fault. /s

Such hubris.

3 ( +5 / -2 )


Do you live and work in Tokyo? have you ever live or work in Tokyo ?

Do you know japanese women in their twenties living and working in Tokyo ?

Because I do, all 3, so I am, may be, just may be, a little bit more eligible to give an opinion on this matter than you and misterX.

People that live 10 000 miles away and think they know everything because they've read a 20 lignes articles...unbeleivable.

May be you can share your examples of the people you know that have difficulties here, like those in this articles, and show us how this has nothing to do with their choices? Please, do share your experience, instead of just bashing those who does.

Living in Tokyo with a minimum salary is hard, nobody's going to say the contrary, that is why the choices you make in your daily life matters.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I don't know why @JJ Jetplane gets so many downvotes, as countless studies prove everything they are saying. Women just have a harder time providing for themselves in Japan because of societal attitudes. Of course there will always be those who are irresponsible with money, but that doesn't paint the whole picture. It is very likely that these women will never have as much income as their male counterparts.

1 ( +5 / -4 )


Calling someone you don't know own daughters "outliers" is not a great start for a discussion, That could explain the downvote.

If you look at the studies you speak of, you will see that this concernes women above 30, generally, first mid 20 everybody get the same salary, so this is not really relevant in this article. Saying that the difference gap seems outrageous but....sorry, speaking of my own experience and the japanese women I have met...most of them chose to stop working after getting my own friend circle on 5 couples, only one of them wanted to go back to work after giving birth. The wage gap problem is a big problem in Japanese but in my opinion many women are part of this problem...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )


Awesome post.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Alex EinzToday  12:41 pm JST

many young women in Japan ( provided they look ok and can have basic social skills) have perfected free entertainment,dining and gifting .... their live has become much easier due to such amazing technological advances such as tinder and such...

So you are suggesting that women should be happy with poverty wages because they can always get free food and drink by prostituting themselves? (provided they cute enough)... disgusting.

4 ( +8 / -4 )


Why not ask your friends why they 'chose' not to go back to work? As the mother of two children with a lot of Japanese friends, I don't know anyone who 'chose' not to work because they wanted a life of leisure. Terrible wages, long working hours and difficulty in finding daycare are why they resigned themselves to having to give up their careers.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese labor statistics show that 10% of all men and 40% of all women in the workforce earn less than 2 million yen annually. Such individuals are called "working poor", unable to make living wages for a number of reasons, among which 'idleness' and 'disinclination' are rarely to be found. Indeed, not a few working poor, many single mothers among them, hold down multiple jobs to pay the bills, send kids to school, and so on. This issue calls for a more serious and considered treatment than that afforded by the article and more maturity and compassion from some of the commenters.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is story about young single women in Japan. Unless you are young single women in Japan, I don’t want hear all your own stories OK. Come on people,

0 ( +2 / -2 )

exactly, the article has nothing to do with single mothers or wage disparity above 30? doesnt exist actually either... ust a myth, you paid what your job entitles u to based on your achievement level.

in any case all 20 year olds paid apprx same, and usually enough not to struggle... if you want luxury while having low salary , women have the option of getting paid ( dinner aint a blowjob ) by dating but men cant.. so yes its actually harder for young men.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"49.9 percent of respondents were earning less than 200,000 yen per month." You've identified the problem. Now do something about it.

That's a problem? I need somebody willing to make burgers for me. I'm not paying 2000 yen for a Big Mac set!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

For the commenters unable to see the forest for the trees, the larger story here is the economy as a whole, which has seen a dramatic increase in low-paying, non-regular jobs over the past 20 years. What is true of the young women in the article is also the case for growing numbers of Japanese workers, regardless of age. The same race-to-the-bottom conditions likewise apply to many English teaching positions and other types of employment for expats.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let them struggle, the path to wisdom. I've always wondered why department stores have allocated 4/5 space for women products and 1/4 for men. Clearly they overspend.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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