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Abe unveils plans for fund to tackle child poverty

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For the nationalist Abe, Japanese in poverty is very embarrassing. What took him so long?

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Will Abe's proposed fund even cover the increased cost of living imposed by his regressive consumption tax increase and food price inflation brought about by his failed Abenomics policy?

11 ( +15 / -4 )

One in six children in Japan in poverty. Both single and dual parent families. An associated approach should be to create the conditions to allow women to continue to work after after pregnancy. Instead the majority of women must lose their jobs on becoming pregnant. Ensure them a continued long term contract with payment during the period of maternity leave. Yes, airline stewardesses and receptionists can be aged 35 or 40 or more. And also end the social and family pressures for a mother to stay at home.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is a good thing but, once again we see the the Japanese government treating the symptoms and not addressing the disease! It's all well and good to throw cash at poor families, but they should be looking at why so many children are growing up in poverty.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

No child should be left behind.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But the number of lifetime jobs has been declining for decades. Japan now has 40 percent part-time workers, most without legal protection and retirement benefits. Problem is that most part time job earn low wages, about 40 percent less per hour than full-time positions. Abe should try protect the part time workers. Many of these part-timers often work 40 hours a week. They account for all of Japan's job growth in the past decade. The rise of this part-time economy explains why Japan is the only developed country where the average pay has consistently fallen in the last 15 years. In the Japan’s rigid labor market, temp work is rarely a steppingstone to something better. It’s a permanent, low-wage existence and it's a big problem.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

All of these worrying social trends and problems developed under LDP's watch - growing like cancer over decades of neglect.

Now Abe throws his hat into the ring with a bread & circus show - almost daily, telling how he's going to save Japan, but never any remorse for contributinging to the creation of such situations.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The poverty here is the biggest surprise I got when I moved here. The issue is not handing out more cash but rather fix the job situation. Almost everyone I know is struggling to survive on 1 income resulting in the full time parent taking a part time job just to make ends meet.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sad story. This reminds me of the Japanese film titled, "Nobody Knows."

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Less than 20% of divorced mothers receive child support from the fathers of the kids since there is no punishment for not paying anything. In some cases they don't persue it since they know the father is a deadbeat who doesn't have any money.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Child poverty has been increasing and is potentially being made worse due to the current economic climate where we are seeing rising costs in basic necessities such as fuel and food. Also it affects children, disabling them from participating and depriving them of choices that might otherwise improve their life chances and increase their ability to reach their full potential. So I commend Mr. Abe's that he acknowledge this dire situation and hope his plan of action makes a difference because no child should be born without a chance.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Hey, here’s a novel idea. How about giving people jobs with wages decent enough so that they can afford to feed their kids properly or start a family in the first place? Or, give raises (based on productivity) or a guaranteed standard of living increase at the very least.

In the case of single parent families caused by divorce, child support payments should be enforced.

As for this fund, monies from 3 of the 4 pensions that Japanese national politicians receive on retirement should be more than enough.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Abe should try protect the part time workers.

One of the reasons there are so many part-time workers is that full-time jobs are so heavily protected. It is hard to fire full-time workers, they are so protected that in Japan's seniority-based employment system, they must be promoted on schedule, even if they do no work, which is one reason why many companies have two or more managers in a single department.

Adding protection for part-time workers will simply result in less part-time workers being hired, as employers will try to make do with fewer staff than they did before, the economy will shrink further, and child poverty will increase.

If Abe wants to reduce child poverty, he needs to see the overall economy improve. If he wants the overall economy to improve, he has to greatly reduce how much the government is taking out of it.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

“I want to form a system in which the entire society helps children grow up,” the prime minister said.'

The guff-prone Prime Minister of the UK said something very similar when he started spouting slogans like 'big society'. What he means is I'll carry on with making the rich much richer while talking guff and not doing anything to tackle the real causes.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Lazybones - There are two sides to that point. Many of these father's you call 'deadbeats' are denied any access to their kids by the mothers for no reason besides, they can (myself included). Would you pay copious amounts of child support (whatever figure comes into her head) to children you have no access to? Until Japan joins the modern world and sets domestic laws pertaining to joint custody and means based child support payments this situation of single mothers struggling will not change. My ex actually suggested I pay ¥3,000 per hour per child for visitation and the family law court supported it. WTF!!! I haven't seen my kids for two years and they live 5 kilometers away from me. The only thing I did wrong was being born in another country. And, the real kick in the balls is, if she has an accident and it is incapable of looking after the kids her parents get custody. I know of many other fathers, both foreign and Japanese in the same situation. So, before you go calling father's deadbeats you should fully understand both sides of the story.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

“I want to form a system in which the entire society helps children grow up,” the prime minister said.'

It is not society's job to raise children, and it's not the government's job to create or regulate society. It is a family's job to raise their children, and it is society's job to regulate the government. Given the chance, the people are entirely capable of raising children well, and of taking care of themselves.

Why are children growing up in poverty? Because people have less money. Why do people have less money? Because the government's tariffs greatly increase the cost of food, so people have to spend more of their money on food. The government taxes everything and everyone, directly, and indirectly, meaning people have less money to spend on themselves. The government manipulates the currency to drive down the cost of exports, driving up the cost of imports in an import-dependent economy, driving the the prices of these goods. The government refuses to enforce non-competitive business practices like collusion and price fixing, which also drive up the costs of goods. In exchange for driving down the yen, and overlooking non-competitive business practices, bureaucrats and politicians are rewarded with high-paying amakudari jobs when they leave the government.

On the other hand, the government regulates employment, making it hard to fire full time workers, so bad workers who do little or no work stay on the job. To compensate for non-productive workers, companies have to hire more workers to pick up the slack. When three workers are required to do the work of two, eventually the three workers get paid what used to be paid to two. Worker "protection" laws have the effect of driving down wages, or discouraging the hiring of full-time workers, and decreased wages lead to further increasing the cost of living to the ordinary Japanese people.

Needless to say, this high, and increasing, cost of living is the main cause of child poverty, and is also the main cause of Japan's population decline, and the current deflationary spiral. Abe doesn't seem to realise that he and his government are the problem, and not the solution, and that every solution he has proposed so far is actually another future problem.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Would you pay copious amounts of child support (whatever figure comes into her head) to children you have no access to?

It's still your kid. When you make a baby in the first place, you take on the task of supporting that child - yes, with copious amounts of money, kids are not cheap - until the child is able to support itself. Your relations with the child's mother, and your reluctance to let her have any of your cash, do not affect your moral obligation to support the child.

if she has an accident and it is incapable of looking after the kids her parents get custody.

Heaven forbid your ex does have an accident and the question of custody goes to court, why should a man who has shown no desire to support the child or concern for the child's material welfare be given preference over grandparents who have been there for the child when he wasn't?

Some parents do deny the other parent access simply out of spite. For others, they genuinely feel, rightly or wrongly, the other parent is not fit to have access to the child and by denying access they feel they are protecting the child from whatever it was that caused the divorce. A displayed reluctance to ensure that the money is available for the child to be properly fed, clothed and educated would be seen as merely confirming the need to protect the child.

I'm not saying that you're a deadbeat dad. There are at least two sides to any story. But if you refuse to support the child you made out of a need to spite your ex, or some idea that you're not getting your money's worth or you should only pay for the time the child spends with you, maybe the courts would change their minds and be a bit more sympathetic to your side of the story if you demonstrated that your first priority was the welfare of the child, as opposed to asserting your 'rights' over your ex and her parents and getting one over on them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Would you pay copious amounts of child support (whatever figure comes into her head) to children you have no access to?

It depends. If I trusted that she would use the money to support my kids, I would. My problem would be between my ex and me, and my kids shouldn't have to pay. But if I thought she was just going to spend the money on herself, I'd probably still give her a small portion from month to month, and tell her that I'll pay their school fees if she provides invoices, and the balance I would put into a bank account that I would give to my kids when they reached age.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Cleo - I never said I wasn't paying, but to be denied access to your kids for no reason other than her whim should be a criminal offense. Should it not? How can you justify a father's responsibility just by paying money? Is that the mindset of all women? Men are just a meal ticket? Contrary to women's belief, fathers give a lot more to their children's development than just money!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It's still your kid. When you make a baby in the first place, you take on the task of supporting that child

That's very true but don't you think the mother is actually causing more long term harm to the child? (Particularly a multi-ethnic child who will feel like an outsider unless they can connect with their roots.) If there was a 1% chance that I would get to see my kids by strategically withholding money, I would certainly try it (unless my child was starving).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Disillusioned - I agree with you that one parent denying the other parent access (more importantly, denying the child access to the other parent) on a whim is definitely wrong. Children ideally should have two parents, and even if the parents can't get along with each other they both owe it to the child to make the best of a bad job and ensure that the child does not suffer, emotionally, morally, physically or materially.

But that is a different matter to paying child support. Whether your ex is working or not, married to someone else with stacks of cash or living on welfare, that does not change the fact that both parents are responsible for the child's well-being.

Men are not a meal-ticket, but Dads are.

Contrary to women's belief, fathers give a lot more to their children's development than just money!

Some women's belief. Some of us believe that Dads have a vital central role to play in a child's emotional and moral development. Please don't let the actions of your ex colour your view of the rest of us.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

where is the money coming from? i hope not my pocket, although pretty sure it will be. also pretty certain its not any politicians' pocket, god forbid.

i certainly hope they aren't going to give cash to the parents like the DPJ tried to do. who know's where that gets spent. i'm pretty sure not the kids.
0 ( +2 / -2 )

@fds

"Where is the money coming from? I hope not my pocket....."

Yeah, God forbid that any penny of yours should be used to help children in poverty. Let 'em starve....

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I agree that this is partly due to Japan's legal system refusing to acknowledge the father in the event of a divorce. The family court awards custody to the mother, the father pays a small amount of money, then he never sees his kid again or has any access. The mother is in poverty and needs to work, but 70% of women are on contracts and usually low-paid jobs, so they can't make ends meet and the child is raised in poverty.

What needs to happen is proper access for both parents, with the father taking far more responsibility for paying for his kids, but that would involve the family court system doing something not feudal in nature, and probably won't happen in our lifetimes.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The rocket scientists in the Japanese government really outdid themselves with this gem of a plan. You can only imagine the man-hours spent wringing their hands over how they are facing a "fiscal crisis" and "unsustainable debt load" and how they therefore need to get the private sector to provide the finance for the fund. Reality is there is no difference between private money being put in an fund to be spent by government, or the government issuing the money for the fund and then cancelling an equal amount of money through taxation. Whether the money goes into the fund directly or indirectly, it is all issued by the government of Japan, and nobody else. The operations of shuffling the money between accounts is slightly different, but the financial effect is zero. And people get paid big money to dream this idiocy up.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

First Abe made financially struggling families less secure (or pushed over the economic brink) buy raising the consumption tax and deflating the yen's value so that the price of imports went up. Now he is playing the good guy starting a fund that is supposed to help poor children, who he has screwed with his economic policies. File this away with his five year plans. Abe is happy when the rich in Japan get richer.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Let's say you are a single parent in Japan (or just a poor family). Living in poverty here might not be so bad as long as poor decisions are not made, especially for instant gratification (NO! You don't need the latest iPhone). If you are a poor child you can still see the dentist so your teeth are not rotting out (medical co-pays are zero for the poor). If you live in those cheap government apartments you don't have to worry about living around a bunch of dangerous Meth heads. Public daycare is based on how much you make so the child has a cheap and safe place to stay with good fresh meals while mom and/or dad is/are working in the daytime. Living poor has many challenges and there is no guarantee the system will work things out ideally. But look at the what the system here has to offer and as long as the parent(s) stay away from bad choices or poor financial decisions at least these social benefits help give these poor families a fighting chance. Good luck to all!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The move follows a law passed by the Diet last year aimed at tackling an issue that critics say has long been swept under the carpet in the world’s third-largest economy.

Bravo for them finally doing something about this problem. Unfortunately, it is just one of many problems that "has lomg been swept under the carpet" in Japan.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

At least it's a start in the right direction. I can understand how some ppl can survive on the pay they get while others seem to be doing well. Japan gives so much in aid but when it come to the ppl at home like ppl in temp housing and S mums etc it's a dichotomy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Can't understan

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“We need to support the independence of financially-constrained single parent families or families with many children,” Abe told a meeting of politicians

This. Coming from a conservative.

Reason no. 2 why I love Japan: is it civilized.

In my country, the "Christian" conservatives love Ayn Rand.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This country really needs more balance in so may ways...many good comments above, thanks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has one of the lowest spends on education of OECD countries in the world despite it being the third largest. Kitting out children for sports,uniform and school trips are other expenses that are necessary even in public schools No wonder the population is falling....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is a developed country and its PM wants to set up a private fund to make up for the lack of nourishment, education..just the general well being of citizens who are the future of this country. This is an insult to the people of Japan, who hold their country in esteem as one that stands equal if not superior to OECD countries that tackle this problem through welfare and charity, both of which, apart from healthcare related support, are severely lacking in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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