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Japan to tackle child poverty in Okinawa

JIJI

The government announced Saturday it plans to implement from April antipoverty measures in Okinawa Prefecture targeted at children, including the placement of more than 100 specialized staff and the creation of around-the-clock assistance centers.

Child poverty has become a serious issue in the nation’s southernmost prefecture, which saw per capita income hit the lowest level in the country in fiscal 2011 after registering the highest rate of fatherless households the preceding year.

Children in single-parent families have higher probabilities of committing crimes, an official with the Okinawa prefectural government said.

According to officials, the newly hired specialists, primarily social workers, will be sent throughout Okinawa to work as full-time staff. They will gather information on poor families in their areas, share it with local schools and nonprofit organizations, and make administrative services available to children in need of support.

The specialized staff will be positioned primarily in urban areas where community ties are weakest.

Officials also said around 30 support facilities that operate 24 hours a day will be set up at community centers and children’s halls in the prefecture to provide children left alone by their parents with meals and study assistance.

To fully cover the costs for the antipoverty program, the central government has earmarked ¥1 billion in its fiscal 2016 budget plan, officials said.