Japan is a sovereign island nation located on the eastern coast of Asia and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East China Sea. Its household income per capita in 2017 was $1.7 billion, and Japan ranks the top three world’s largest economy, only behind U.S. and China. In 2016, its GDP reached $4.94 trillion.
Japan has outstanding technology achievements, a comprehensive social system and a very advanced transportation system that included bullet trains 51 years ago. Even though the overall economic condition of Japan is very mature, there are severe poverty issues behind these numbers. Here are top 10 facts about poverty in Japan.
Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Japan
- The Japanese economy decreased sharply since 2012. While the world GDP grew from $74.89 trillion to $74.1 trillion from 2012 to 2014, Japanese GDP shrank from $6.203 trillion $4.85 trillion in 2015.
- Japan sets disposable income below $14,424 as the poverty level. In 2013, there was 12 percent of the national population under the poverty level.
- In 2010, there was 32 percent of females who are 23 to 64 years old in poverty, and the rate of males was 25 percent. Since the GDP growth was -0.115 percent in 2011 and later it has been recovering in a very slow path, the poverty condition is consistent.
- The average wages of Japan in 2016 was around $39,113. This number was far less than the average U.S. wage, which was about $60,154. More importantly, while constant prices increased 1.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, its average wage only increased 0.7 percent. The wage growth rate makes Japanese people barely able to pursue higher standards of life.
- At least one in every six children struggle with poverty problems, issues that often inhibit them from accessing higher levels of education. To solve this problem, Japan sets the compulsory education system until the age of 15. In 2013, the Japanese government passed the law to increase the number of social workers in school and increased free, after-school tutors.
- The aging population is one of the most severe issues in Japan. In 2016, the Japanese population was around 127 million; however, in the next five decades, the population is likely to shrink by about one-third, and the population of over-64-year-olds may increase from 25 to 38 percent. This dilemma largely decreases Japanese labor force.
- The Japanese government announced in 2009 that there were around 16,000 homeless people on the streets. Around 35 percent of this population was about 60 years old, but the number has been dropping since April 2012. For example, the number dropped around 12 percent from 2011 to 2012 due to the support of health and welfare ministry.
- The average house price in greater Tokyo increased more than 12 percent from 2014 to 2015; however, the price-to-income ratio in 2016 was 11 percent. This is the first time the ratio has exceeded 10 percent since the 1990 bubble economy. The higher house price puts more people in jeopardy and as a result, more people become homeless.
- There is a large income gap in Japan, especially under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies. For example, people who live in Tokyo are gaining benefits an their average taxable income raised near 7 percent through fiscal 2016. However, the income of people who live in Kagawa dropped during the same period.
- In Japan, more than 99 percent of businesses are small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are influential supporters of the Japanese economy. Based on a report in the Economist Intelligence Unit, though, SMEs have been in decline since the 1990 bubble economy, and the decline continued through the 2008 economic crisis as many of them are reliant upon the domestic economy.
The Japanese government currently works to set new policies to promote economic development, and strives to effectively solve issues such as the ones in the top 10 facts about poverty in Japan.
– Judy Lu