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Despite some improvements, child poverty remains a serious problem in this country. Children in such circumstances tend to face limited educational opportunities, which reduces their chances of ever landing decent jobs and raises the prospect they will remain poverty-stricken their entire lives. A recent amendment to the 2013 law designed to break this vicious cycle calls on municipal governments in addition to prefectures already tasked with the job to work out plans for dealing with the problems faced by children in low-income households.

Involving the authorities in cities, towns and villages in the effort is a significant step forward because officials at the local level will have a better grasp on the hardships besetting poor households and therefore are better positioned to address their problems. It is regrettable, however, that the call for setting numerical targets to lower the child poverty rate — which was mentioned in a draft compiled by a group of lawmakers across party lines that pushed for the amendment — was dropped in the amendment that cleared the Diet earlier this month. Setting specific targets for reducing child poverty means committing to concrete action to fight the problem. The government needs to step up its efforts to stop the chain reaction of poverty across generations.

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