01/19/2021, 09.24
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Tokyo sees pandemic hike in in poverty rate

Half a million Japanese have lost their jobs in the past six months; 40% of workers have poorley paid  "temproary" jobs and little access to welfare. Out of a sense of shame, many citizens in distress do not ask for help. With poverty, suicides increase.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of poor people in the country, especially among the Japanese middle class. More and more people are queuing up for food and clothing in public and private assistance centers.

The national media gives little space to this side of the pandemic, but several observers point out that many citizens are sleeping in train stations or on the street. Japan is not among the countries most affected by Covid-19 and has not adopted rigid lockdowns. There are 336 thousand cases of contagion; about 4,400 the dead.

The unemployment rate is below 3% and the country has a very organized social welfare system, useful for better overcoming the effects of the health crisis. According to official data, however, half a million Japanese have lost their jobs in the last six months. There is another problem: the increase in underemployment and underpaid temporary jobs.

According to the Moyai Support Center for Independent Living, 40% of workers have "irregular" jobs. They earn low wages, can be fired easily and have little access to welfare.

More than 10 million Japanese live on less than $ 19,000 a year, too little considering the high cost of living in the country. One in six is ​​in a state of "relative poverty", earning less than half the national average income. The numbers could be even greater: out of a sense of shame, many citizens in difficulty do not ask for help from assistance agencies.

The increase in poverty is also likely to cause a rise in suicides. The NLI Research Institute has calculated that one percentage point more unemployment translates into 3,000 more suicides per year.

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