The Japanese Poverty Question

In Japan, if you end up in Kotobuki, then you will see many people downright down on their luck. Even though glamorous shops litter the streets, there are so many posh restaurants all around of Yokohama, which is right next to Tokyo, squalid quarters are amassing all around. Locals on the brink of pennilessness reside here in cheap hostels, without employment or any family. Casual day work provides for some, but that is not for such a high percentage, and there is a small 25-bed shelter at the centre of Kotobuki, which is part of a public network of about 40 built in the last decade.

Some 18,000 people have been rescued from the streets in Japan because of it, but because of that it has been tougher to locate the dire poverty which has affected such large numbers of people.  Poverty levels have been pretty high since last year, and it has been growing. Books are being sold on how to survive on meagre incomes, and although the country has had a good record of uplifting citizens from poverty, previously, with no slum-dwellers anywhere or any slums, either, irregular workers are finding it hard to survive in this economic climate. Most are on temporary or short-time contracts, live at home, rent-free but this situation is predicted to become a burden once the older Japanese generation passes away.

As incomes rise for elite workers in Japan, the population on margins continue to suffer, despite a recovering economy. More people demand to be put on welfare than ever before, but Shinzo Abe’s government slashed benefits premium in an effort to offload the country’s huge public debt. This has put more and more people into poverty, as more people begin to lodge in homeless shelters, who once used to earn a living on building sites and car production lines, paying their taxes. But Japan’s progress doesn’t seem to have suffered because the construction industry is steaming ahead, albeit slower, with a lower wage for workers, as the poverty-stricken Japanese continues to linger heavily, on Abe’s government and it’s legacy.

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