“I can’t pay rent” coronavirus-related loss of income leads to surge in financial hardship consultations in Naha during 2020

“I can’t pay rent” coronavirus-related loss of income leads to surge in financial hardship consultations in Naha during 2020

November 5, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Mariko Nakamura


On November 4, the Personal Support Center for work and livelihood support in Naha announced that they had received approximately 8000 consultations over the course of the 2020 fiscal year, 8 times the number received in 2019. Thus far, 2021 is outpacing 2020, with 5000 consultations received between April and October. The Personal Support Center supports needy individuals living in Naha. Incomes in the area have declined due to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to increasing numbers of struggling households. Tetsuzou Nagayoshi, who is in charge of the Personal Support Center, is concerned. “We have more and more cases where people who have been scraping by are struggling to even put food on the table because of the lack of jobs from the pandemic.”


Throughout late October, the Personal Support Center, located in the Good Job Center Okinawa in Izumizaki, Naha, had an endless stream of clients coming in for advice. The center is open for consultations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a lunch break at midday. However, the sheer number of clients meant that they were unable to even close for lunch.


The Personal Support Center offers advice to individuals struggling with day-to-day life or finding work, and helps them get government support. They have approximately 40 consultations per day, either in person or by phone. According to Nagayoshi, many consultations come from small business owners or non-regular employees who have less income due to Covid 19. Most are in the restaurant or tourism industries. There are also consultations from foreign residents who have lost their part-time jobs.

In past years, the center would have around 1000 consultations per year, with many being from middle-aged or elderly clients. However, since the pandemic began, the number of 20- and 30-year-olds has grown. Clients struggling to find work include single-mother and single-father households, but also elderly households where grandparents are taking care of children who have lost parents.

Last year, the consultations overwhelmingly related to being unable to pay rent. The center accepts applications for the Housing Security Benefit, which is supplied by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, with a maximum amount determined by the local government. In past years, there have been approximately 20 applications per year. In 2020, approximately 1400 applications were submitted.

(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)


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