by Maya Hattori
In Precarious Japan, Anne Alison refers to the new types of poor people spreading in Japan. She also mentions that little attention is given to the fact that poverty exists in this country right now. I will focus on the lifestyle of the poor young women and their struggle.
The increasing poverty among young women in Japan is a serious problem that is still not recognized widely. One out of three young unmarried women are regarded as being poor, receiving less than 1,140,000 yen a year. However, most of them do not even regard themselves as poor, with the bias of living in a rich country.
First of all, why do young women fall into poverty anyway? There are many cases such as, fleeing from domestic violence, divorce, single parenting, debts or family background. Everyone has the risk to become poor someday.
Once you get poor, you no longer have many choices, which keeps you stuck in an unstable and severe life, like a vicious circle. For example, a woman in her early twenties has a child but no partner and her parents are divorced and not able to help her financially. In order to raise her child she has to earn money immediately, however, she would probably have no choice but to work as a daily employee or engage in night work, because it takes time, money and luck to get a stable job. Indeed, many young women who are in such a situation are indirectly forced to work as prostitutes, where they are provided not only a lot of money but also a day-care center and an apartment. This is more easily done than to ask the government for public assistance or other official help.
Moreover, living in poverty, many young women who are single think they are not able to get married. The idea that women can be feed by their husbands does no longer apply to this era of depression and precariousness. This also leads to the decrease of children. Another vicious circle is that children who were raised by single young women in poverty have difficulties in getting good education, considered financially, so they probably will go through the same difficulties as their mothers.
Living in Japan with minimum wage causes you many other problems as above. Though it may sound a little unequal in terms of gender when I only refer to women, it is true that young single women have a weaker position if they have children and women are more easily allured into “black businesses” because of the payment and other equipment. Therefore, the government should help those young women who suffer from poverty, in order to give them a chance to live a mature life.