The Japan Times Online
Supporting single mothers
As the economy worsens, some people will suffer more than others. For the first time ever, the number of Japanese single mothers receiving child-care allowances to supplement their low income has topped 1 million, the health and welfare ministry reported in March. These single-mother households greatly need additional help: Their income is stuck at 40 percent of the national average.
The 1-million-plus total, of course, involves not just mothers, but 1 million-plus children as well. Nearly 90 percent of these mothers became single through divorce, which may indicate some degree of outside child support, but not enough. And since the allowances are paid in accordance with the previous year's income, the figures do not reflect the real current situation as affected by an economy that started declining last fall.
These million-plus children need assistance as protection from the worst effects of the economic recession. With the right assistance, the damage from this recession can at least partially be contained within this one generation. If the government can afford lump-sum payments to all citizens to stimulate the economy, surely it can afford to increase the meager ¥42,000 monthly allowance for low-income single-mother families.
Money, of course, is not the only solution. A recent Cabinet Office survey found that 33 percent of married women experienced physical and mental abuse from their husbands. Of those, only around 3 percent contacted either the police or a hospital, with only 1 percent turning to help centers or private shelters. Over half did not ask anyone for help. Most women, it is clear, could use psychological, legal and financial help of many kinds to resolve abusive marriages and difficult situations.
One of the most basic functions of government should be supporting those members of society in most need of help. That support is especially important in the toughest times, when social burdens fall most heavily on the economically vulnerable. Ensuring the safety and well-being of mothers and children, regardless of their marriage status, should be a much stronger government priority. Over a million households are waiting.
Source: The Japan Times Online
Blogger's Comments: Will Malaysia look east to Japan in this great hour of economic downturn? Most likely not. In fact since the great Malaysian medical Doctor Mahathir had problem with his ex-Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1997 Malaysia had practically and quietly abandoned its Look East To Japan Policy. Since then Malaysia and most of all West Malaysia under the Dr Mahathir had ben pretty engrossed and obsessed with nothing else but internal or domestic politics - how to control the rising tide of opposition against UMNO which he led. In fact all Malaysians and most of all West Malaysians- from the oldest right down to the youngest have been fed on a staple diet of Malaysian politics almost 24 hours a day (taking into consideration the fact that some Mamak Restaurants in big towns like Bangi are opened 24hrs a day).
Up to date Malaysia is still too busy with politics and this country which used to be called Malaysia Boleh seems no longer Boleh. It does not seem to have time to talk, let alone discuss or deliberate on the wisest moves or measures to help the poor or help Malaysians who have lost their jobs because of the deteriorating world economy. In fact Malaysia seems not to have time to think about the 20,000 odd number of workers being laid off or made redudant because of the world economic recession. (MSN News 29 March 2009 Over 26,000 jobs lost in Malaysia: report.) I wonder what are we going to do with the rising number of our unemployed university graduates? Where are we going to send a couple of thousands more of our unemployed graduates after their graduation come a few months time? Are we going to send them all for a post-graduate degree in Latihan Khidmat Negara with a new training syllabus or module? Whatever it is can we build a society that is more polite even if the politicians cannot help but be political? Is Malaysia no longer Boleh?