Children of poor, jobless single moms have become an underclass in Japan


Even the most developed societies are struggling with inequality.

Stringent privacy laws and a culture of keeping up appearances make it hard to spot much of the poverty in Japan. In central Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, another affluent neighborhood that is home to the University of Tokyo and the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium, a joint project between government and local groups identifies poor families and covertly provides them with some free groceries so that neighbors don’t know. Seven cases of domestic violence have been found via the program.

“People are afraid to be known as poor households and that fear is increasing their stress,” said Hironobu Narisawa, the ward’s mayor. “We want to support them in a closed, invisible way so that they won’t be stigmatized.”

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Yoshiaki Nohara — The Japan Times

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Japan Takes On Its Workaholics


There has been lot of news coverage on people dying in Japan due to overwork. Today’s needull discusses how Japan is dealing with the problem. With modern societies becoming more and more individualistic, many people are finding some meaning only in their work.

The harm from long working hours goes beyond stress, psychiatric issues and health problems. Overwork might also be a factor behind the country’s low productivity. Stanford economist John Pencavel has shown that if people work more than 60 hours a week, their output flatlines or even declines. Putting in long hours might convince your boss that you’re a diligent employee, but after a point it becomes self-defeating.

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Noah Smith — Bloomberg

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