The struggles of the working poor

Anonymous student post

Do you know the term “working poor”?

“The working poor” refers to part-time workers whose incomes fall below a given poverty line.  However, the Japanese government does not set a poverty line. Therefore, many people define “the working poor” as people who, even if work full-time as if they were the permanent employees, they earn less wages and it is difficult for them to maintain the life of the lowest limit.  These days, the number of the working poor is increasing in Japan. The labor problems must be serious, and Japanese people have to solve that immediately. In this article, I will describe the struggles of living in Japan if I am earning the minimum wage.

Then, what kind of difficulties do I find if I am earning the minimum wage?  I suppose that I am a non-regular employee and live by myself in an apartment.

Probably, I do not have enough money to live comfortably if I earn the minimum wage. So I have to make both ends meet. First, I will cut down on living expenses. The prices of uncooked foods in Japan―for example, vegetables and fruits―are more expensive than those in other countries. Therefore I will not be able to buy so many these foods and to start to buy the ready-to-eat foods, confectioneries, instant foods and so on. These foods are not so good for our health. Second, I will live in a low-rent apartment. The apartment whose rent is the lowest does not have a bath and a toilet in the room. People live in the apartment have to use the bath and the toilet together, so people may care about how long they can use it, when they can do and so on.

Thus, life on minimum wage is very hard. Furthermore, if people who live on minimum wage are discharged, they cannot earn the wage. And people cannot everyday find their daily employment. When day laborers cannot pay the rent and are evicted from their apartments, they will have to look for a place to sleep every night. In fact, people who, essentially homeless, take up temporary residence in internet cafes or manga kissa (Allison, 2013, p.46). Some people have been troubled with poverty even though they work very hard.

Then, what should the Japanese government do to solve the labor problem?

The Japanese government should make the companies to be complete the employment system that the companies should reemploy the non-regular employees who work very hard or raise their salary.  If so, the company can motivate all employees, I think.

The labor and the poverty problems are very serious. So, we should think about and grapple with these problems immediately. And we should not regard these problems as other people’s affairs.


Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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