Poverty among young women: the trigger to a limited life

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.

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(Re)framing and Problem Solving

by Ryo Tanaka

How can we solve social problems? Various ways are possible. But the most basic one is to share how the problem is understood. In other words, it is necessary to frame or reframe the problem by “highlighting certain events or facts as important and rendering others visible” (Ryan & Gamson, 2006, p. 13). In is then important to note that people often frame an issue not actually seeing the fact in their eyes. For example, the former US president George Bush insisted “a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda when no facts support[ed] it” (Ryan & Gamson, 2006, p. 14). Frames often take implicit forms. Thus, it is risky to rely on only one person’s frame in making a decision or solving a problem.

Different people have different frames in their head. In solving a problem, it is essential to combine or integrate each other’s frame effectively to reflect the process of problem solving. “Successful reframing involves ability to enter worldview of our adversaries” (Ryan & Gamson, 2006, p. 14). Problem solving therefore requires combining or integrating opposing sides.

For example, domestic violence has two opposing ways of framing. One is to understand it as a private problem that results from the inside of the family. This includes the relationship between the husband and wife. The other is to regard it as a public issue. This view suggests that socioeconomic forces push people to commit violence to others including family members. Or at least, some social factors are related to their action of violence. To combine or integrate these two opposing sides, it is necessary to consider the two things: how much those who are abused are responsible for their fate; and how much society is responsible for domestic violence. Typically, those who are abused are not responsible for much of their fate because they cannot control their situation by themselves. This difficulty of the abused sometimes comes from the traditional value system. When the traditional patriarchic idea that the husband has more power than the wife is applied, the husband side can justify violence against the wife. In this sense, domestic violence is the society’s fault. Society has maintained the value system that has justified and concealed domestic violence. Also, extreme stresses can lead people to commit violence against others to release the stresses. People typically stressed out in their workplace. Various environmental factors such as the relationship with colleagues or bosses, the amount of work, and working hours influence their level of stress. People have no choice but to get such physically and mentally demanding jobs simply because most of today’s jobs have a certain degree of such demands. It is almost impossible for them to choose a job that is not stressful.

In conclusion, domestic violence can be seen as a social problem to a large degree. Motivation of violence essentially comes from cultural norms or stresses got outside the family. Still, this does not prove that abused people have no responsibility for their fate. They should at least make an effort not to be abused. It is hard to examine how much abused people are responsible. But discussion above shows that it seems easier to consider how much society is responsible. Thus, before examining responsibility of the abused, social systems should be improved to reduce domestic violence. In doing so, the process by which systems push people to commit violence should be revealed.


Ryan, C. and Gamson, W. A. (2006). the art of reframing political debates. Contexts (5)1, pp. 13-18.