English will follow.
We’ve been engaged in a petition drive to demand an increase, by ¥10,000, in the Child Support Allowance—known as “Jido fuyo teate”–for the second and subsequent children. The collected signatures will be handed to the Chief Cabinet Secretory, Mr. Yoshihide Suga.
Japan is the third largest economic power. However, due to an unstable economy, poverty has been spreading and many children are affected. Now, one in six Japanese children are in poverty. Single-parent families are in an especially severe situation, with 54.6 percent of them in poverty. This rate is the worst among developed nations.
Reading this, you might wonder if Japanese single parents are less likely to work. In fact, 80 percent of single parents are single mothers and, of them, 81 percent are employed. This is the highest rate of employment for single mothers in the world. But, because there are an insufficient number of day care centers to care for their children, and the centers that are available are expensive and have limited operating hours, many mothers who have small children cannot work enough to make ends meet. Nearly half of single mothers work part time or in irregular employment and their average annual income is just $14,986. Single mothers who are in this sort of situation often have two or more part-time jobs to earn enough money to live and their lives are so busy they may not have enough time to take care of their children. Another problem they face is the difficulty of ever getting full-time regular employment after years of working in irregular employment or as part time workers. So, even after their children grow up, and they have more time to work, they may not be able to change their career easily and escape from poverty.
How about the situation for single fathers? The percentage of single fathers who have regular employment is higher than for single mothers and their average income is also superior. However, fathers who do not have support from their family or friends cannot do overtime work and they may choose to do poorly paid irregular work in order to spend time with their children.
To support single parent families in poverty, the Japanese government provides the Child Support Allowance. For the first child, about $342 per month is provided, but for the second child, the allowance decreases to about $41, and for the third and subsequent children only about $25 is offered. To make matters worse, not every single parent can get this amount. The allowance depends on their annual income and only people who earn less than about $10,803 annually can receive the full allocation (If one’s annual income is about $16,620, the allowance for the first child drops to about $249, and when one’s annual income reaches $30,331, the allowance falls to $82.). This cannot be considered sufficient support for living in Japan, where everything is expensive. [US dollar amounts calculated at ¥120 to US$1]
The poverty of parents affects the education and future of children. Some children living in these circumstances not only cannot enter university but high school as well. We strongly believe that the future of children should not be limited because of the poverty of their parents. To help children in these kinds of financially difficult situations have a more stable life, and to allow parents to spend more time with their children, we strongly encourage the government to increase the Child Support Allowance. For that reason, we are conducting this petition drive. Your support and cooperation are highly appreciated. Thank you.