National / Social Issues

More than 30% of low-income households with children in early teens struggle to afford food: survey


Among low-income households with children in their early teens, 34.7 percent have experienced difficulty buying food for financial reasons, a survey by a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization showed Monday.

With child poverty a problem in the country, the survey result suggests that many low-income earners are struggling even to ensure sufficient food for their children.

The nonprofit organization supporting children in poverty, Kids’ Door, conducted the survey in February 2017 on low-income households with junior high school children who go to free tutoring schools in Tokyo and Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It collected responses from 207 students and 147 parents.

The average annual income of responding households stood at ¥3,049,000. Those with incomes of less than ¥2 million made up the largest group, at 30.6 percent, and single-parent families accounted for 63.2 percent.

Of the responding parents, 1.4 percent said they often had difficulty buying enough food due to a lack of money over the past year, 10.9 percent sometimes faced the same situation and 22.4 percent experienced such problems but infrequently. Respondents who had faced such difficulties made up 34.7 percent in total.

The survey also asked about the level of education that respondents wanted to receive before starting to work, or the level they wanted their children to receive.

Of the parents, 38.8 percent said they wanted their children to finish high school — the largest group. Meanwhile, going on to college was the most frequent answer among children, at 37.7 percent.

Asked whether the children visited museums or similar places when they were fourth to sixth graders, 1.6 percent said they were unable to for financial reasons. The same answer was received from 5.2 percent of respondents with lower academic scores.

“We want the government to improve its grant-type scholarship program and take other steps to create an environment in which children from low-income households can receive education and have hope (for their futures),” said Yumiko Watanabe, head of Kids’ Door.

“The revenue from the planned consumption tax increase to 10 percent in October next year should be used to establish a system that allows low-income households to benefit more,” she said.