Japan’s relative poverty rate as of 2007 stood at 15.7 percent, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced last October. This marks the first time the government has officially released its own data on the subject. Past rates were known only through surveys conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The public announcement of this data is a welcome end to the willful denial of previous administrations, but one demanding a response and action.
The 2007 relative poverty rate, up from 14.9 percent in the 2004 OECD survey, is the fourth-highest among OECD’s 30 member nations. With half the median income for all income earners in the nation serving as the dividing line, the relative poverty rate is likely to have worsened in the past few years, but we will never know until more recent data is forthcoming. For now, though, the reality is that 19 million Japanese are living below the poverty line, or nearly one in every six citizens.
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Source: Japan Times