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It was when Hyungsik Lee entered the prestigious University of Tokyo that he realized Japan’s social stratification.

Having grown up in one of dozens of municipal government-run houses for low-income households in Hyogo Prefecture, poverty used to be part of his daily scenery. On the way to his local elementary school were dwellings with homeless people where he saw a man who froze to death taken away by an ambulance. At school, about half of his classmates were from single-parent households with financial difficulties.

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