Last month, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai said during an LDP gathering in Tokyo that people who opt not to have children are "selfish" given the country's demographic crisis.

That remark received a lot of attention. However, much less was said about another comment Nikai made during the same speech, that there are no homes in Japan where people go hungry, essentially implying that there are no poor people here.

As a matter of fact, there have been several books published over the past year about the country's changing class structure. In "Shin Nihon no Kaikyu Shakai" (The New Japanese Class Society), sociologist Kenji Hashimoto says that class divisions are widening. Traditionally, there were two classes, an owners' class and a workers' class. The rise of the white-collar employee following World War II created a middle class, but in principle even these salarymen belonged to the workers' class.