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FAQ on “Guidelines on Measures to Combat Childhood Poverty”

  • October 5, 2016
  • , Mainichi , p. 10
  • JMH Translation

In Japan, one out of six children under the age of 18 lives in poverty. In August 2014, the government drew up the “Guidelines on Measures to Combat Childhood Poverty.” Since then, local governments, which are tasked with taking the initiative in policymaking, have been coping with the issue through pioneering measures, such as helping single parents find jobs and preventing students from dropping out of high school. Meanwhile, efforts to deal with child poverty issues are giving rise to new challenges such as how to secure stable financial sources to ensure the continuity of support.


Q: What are the “Guidelines on Measures to Combat Childhood Poverty?”


A: They were formulated based on the “law to combat childhood poverty” which was enacted in 2013. They encompass four areas: education, livelihood, employment of guardians and economic aid. The guidelines include 40 key policies, which focus on extending employment support to single parents and increasing the number of social workers to be placed in schools to give advice to children on daily living.


Q: Does the government set any specific targets?


A: The guidelines include 25 “benchmarks,” such as child poverty rates and college enrollment among children from households on welfare. Support groups complain that they do not set specific targets for improvement. The government says that it will study the effectiveness of policies by examining the trends of benchmarks.


Q: What is the role of local governments?


A: To combat child poverty, it is important to take steps that cater to the needs of each community. Local governments are asked to draw up their own programs based on the guidelines and put them into practice.


Q: How much progress has been made?


A: Most of the 47 prefectural offices have finished drawing up their own programs, but their effective measures have not been  shared with other local governments. In August, a group led by USNOVA, a public foundation that deals with child poverty, and the Tokyo Metropolitan University selected 15 pioneering programs from 12 prefectures as “good practices” [for combating child poverty.] It will also compile “good practice” programs implemented by municipal governments within the current fiscal year so other local governments can refer to these cases. In June, the mayors of 170 municipal offices launched a “federation to combat child poverty” to broaden horizontal cooperation. It will hold an inaugural general meeting in November. (Abridged)

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