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January 15, 2010

Increasing poverty affecting children's education

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According to Masanori Matsumura, a primary school teacher for 30 years, a growing number of children in Japan today cannot even afford classroom supplies "such as paints or craft materials." He adds, "The expanding poverty is hitting the most vulnerable victims - children."

Mutsuko Murakami, of the IPS news agency, reports: ' Japan's rude awakening to the reality of poverty amid seeming affluence in some sectors of its society came about when, for the first time in 45 years, the government released in October 2009 data showing the extent of poverty gripping the country. Health, labor and welfare minister Akira Nagatsuma announced then that 15.7 percent of the Japanese people and 14.2 percent of Japanese children and teenagers under 17 were in relative poverty, citing a 2007 survey.

The first disturbing warning sign of Japanese children living in poverty came in 2006 following the release of the report, ‘Economic Survey of Japan 2006', by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which undertakes such studies every five years.

Of the 30 OECD member countries, it said Japan ranked second to the United States in terms of children living in relative poverty, with 13.7 percent, up two percent from the l990s. Until then the Japanese public had long distanced itself from the notion of poverty, especially where it involved children.'

Click here to see the whole report.

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