The Issue of Present-Day Poverty
From “Kazenoko Letter” No.397 - February 2011

 Issues regarding poverty have gained prominent attention in this present-day superfluous society. Missing elderly people became a big issue last year. The person’s name is in the family register, but the person doesn’t exist. The living were relying on the pension of the deceased. I’m surprised by the number of cases like this. It means that the number of people who struggle to make a living have increased. This poverty phenomenon is prominent especially in a big city like Osaka.

 The actual state of welfare recipients in Osaka City last October was 113,000 households and 147,000 people. Higashiyodogawa ward has the second highest population in Osaka City with 177,000 people, so in comparison to this, it is a significant figure. The rate of protection is 5.52% of the population, so it is almost four times as much as the national average of 1.5%. 80% of this benefit is absorbed by the government, but the rest is absorbed by Osaka City. That is an enormous cost, and puts pressure on other expenses. Osaka City has made a request for the government to cover the whole, because this poverty issue is their responsibility.

 One of the reasons for the increasing number of welfare recipients is the situation of deteriorating employment influenced by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy two years ago. And the fact that many unemployed people from all over Japan have moved to Osaka City has fed this deterioration. And now, the general rule is to prioritize other means over welfare benefits, and so support should be sought in other methods and systems first. Welfare benefits are supposed to be there as a last resort. However, even though there are such rules in place, the increasing use of welfare benefits are due to the weakness of other methods and systems.

 For example, basic pension is low, so it’s difficult to live on pension alone, or conditions for receiving benefits of unemployment insurance are strict and it’s difficult to depend on it, etc. Therefore, in the end, people have no other choice but to receive welfare benefits. Receiving welfare benefits is a citizen’s right, but it is essential to have safety nets firmly in place.

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