UNICEF child poverty study places Japan 32nd among 41 countries

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NEW YORK – Japan ranks 32nd among 41 developed countries in addressing income inequality involving families with children while countries like Norway and Finland have done exceptionally well, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Assessed on the reduction in the number of children living in poverty of all its forms, Japan ranked 23rd, indicating that more than two decades of slow economic growth and persistent deflation have widened the income gap among households with children.

Aya Abe, a professor of poverty studies at Tokyo Metropolitan University, said, “We’ve found that children in the lowest income tier have been in a predicament.”

UNICEF surveyed 41 member nations of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union.

“A broad average of one child in five in 41 high-income countries lives in poverty,” the U.N. institution said in the report.

“Social transfers have proven to be very effective tools in reducing child poverty,” UNICEF said, calling on advanced nations to take necessary measures to reduce the income gap between households.

According to a survey released in 2014 by Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the proportion of children living below the poverty line in the country increased to 16.3 percent in 2012, marking the worst on record. The “child poverty rate” includes children under age 18 in households living on less than half the national median income.

You can read the PDF report online.