Facts About Poverty in TokyoTokyo is not a city that immediately comes to mind as a poverty-stricken city. Japan currently has the third-largest economy in the world, but despite this had a relative poverty rate of 15.6 percent in 2015, significantly higher than other wealthy countries. This poverty is often hidden, and ignored by both the government and citizens of Japan. Much of this poverty is located in the nation’s capital of Tokyo. Below are 10 facts about poverty in Tokyo.

10 Facts About Poverty in Tokyo

  1. Poverty first began to gain recognition as an issue in Tokyo after the 2008 global financial crisis. During this time, a village was set up in Hibiya Park in Tokyo to provide for the city’s newly poor.
  2. The poverty line in Tokyo is set at half the median household disposable income for a given year.
  3. More than 20 percent of the children in Tokyo live in what the government has defined as an impoverished household.
  4. Ten percent of households in Tokyo are not able to adequately feed themselves because of the level of poverty in which they are living.
  5. Parents in 15 percent of households in Tokyo said they could not afford to buy clothes for their children.
  6. The Japanese government has been working to reduce the rate of homelessness in Tokyo, and in 2014 there were only an estimated 1,697 homeless individuals in Tokyo. This was an all-time low for the city.  
  7. The poverty rate of single-parent families in which the parent is working is more than 50 percent in Tokyo, as well as the rest of Japan.
  8. The economic system in Tokyo puts divorced single mothers at an especially high disadvantage, because many Japanese companies only hire recent college graduates. This places divorced single mothers at a disadvantage because if they left the workforce while married to raise children, as is a common cultural practice in Japan, they will likely not be hired when they attempt to rejoin the workforce.
  9. A community of homeless people lives in Shinjuku Central Park, which is located right next to the City Hall in Tokyo.
  10. The three primary groups that receive welfare payment in Tokyo are the elderly, single mothers and the handicapped.

These 10 facts about poverty in Tokyo only touch on poverty in the city. Though Tokyo is often thought of as a fast-paced, glamorous metropolitan city, the reality is that many living in Tokyo are facing crippling levels of poverty.

The above 10 facts about poverty in Tokyo reveal many of the issues being faced by these citizens. Though poverty may be more severe in Tokyo than many would assume, the recognition of this problem at all offers a glimmer of hope that Japan is on its way to improving the lives of its poorest citizens.

– Nicole Stout
Photo: Flickr