Okinawa has highest poverty rate in Japan

Okinawa has highest poverty rate in Japan

Trend in poverty rates.

December 15, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

The poverty rate of Okinawa in 2007 was 29.3 percent, the highest in Japan and twice the national average of 14.4 percent. Associate professor of Yamagata University Kensaku Tomuro revealed the results of his survey of poverty rates by prefecture on December 14. The working-poor rate for Okinawa was 20.5 percent, the highest in Japan and three times the national average of 6.7 percent. The welfare-recipient rate for Okinawa was 9.8 percent, which is 4.5 percent lower than the national average of 14.3 percent.

Tomuro carried out the survey from 1992 to 2007 with the values representing those five years.

The number of full-time workers in Japan has drastically decreased since 1998, with amendments to the Worker Dispatch Act in 1999 also impacting upon the working environment. This has led to higher poverty rates nationwide, but poverty indicators in Okinawa have been consistently high, something which is peculiar to Okinawa.

While the poverty rate in Okinawa is high, its welfare-recipient rate was under 10 percent at 9.8 percent of those eligible. The prefecture’s constantly high poverty rate and low welfare-recipient rate makes Okinawa one of the poorest areas in Japan.

The latest survey carried out in 2009 by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare gives a nationwide poverty rate of 16 percent, with the child poverty rate at 15.7 percent.

Tomuro said that this is the first time that researchers have surveyed the working poor rate by prefecture. It is also the first time that they have carried out a survey giving trends in poverty rate by prefecture from the beginning of the 1990s to the 2000s.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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