Today it was reported that those in receipt of social security benefits from the Japanese government could face a reduction in payments if preliminary budgetary calculations are confirmed. The article below discusses what this might mean for single-mothers in Japan, many of whom have found themselves in difficult circumstances, even with current payments.
However, most reactions from netizens on the 2ch.net blog Hamusoku.com are highly critical of those who receive benefits but do not work, highlighting a rift between different sectors of Japanese society.
From Mainichi News:
Social Security Review: Single Mother Families Concerned, They Don’t Feel ‘Overpaid’.
Single-mother recipients of benefits are becoming increasingly worried by the debate over reviewing social security benefits which is reaching its final stages together with the creation of the 2013 budget. This is due to the fact that while a draft report by the special committee of the Social Security Council boasts the ‘abolition of the poverty-cycle for children’, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare published preliminary calculations that social security benefits were being ‘overpaid’. This has brought distress, with single mothers asking, ‘Is the state really supporting us?’
In this preliminary budget, it states that in a household of a single-mother with one child, social security benefits are over 7,200 ($81) yen per month (1,200,000 yen per year; $13,534), as for a low-income family, but as the number of children increases, the amount they are ‘overpaid’ also increases. On the other hand, the draft report from the Social Security Council is concerned with the affects of the adversity faced by parents on the child’s future, saying, ‘They need to be given educational support’.
A woman from the Tokyo region in her thirties said with a trembling voice, ‘They’re trying to catch their prey (the reduction in social security benefits) with tiny bait (educational support). But if there’s a reduction, educational support won’t change a thing’. She lives in a household of four; herself, her daughter who is in middle-school, and two young sons. She escaped her ex-husband’s domestic violence, and goes to the hospital regularly to see a psychiatrist.
The woman recieves clothes and furniture from people she knows, and uses a vacuum cleaner and a washing machine that are half-broken. She can’t afford to send her children to cram school. She wishes ‘to at least let them go to high school’, but if social security benefits are reduced, things will become even more difficult than they are now.
A forty year old woman who lives in Sapporo with her two children said, ‘It doesn’t feel like we’re being overpaid. If they reduce the amount, what will I do…?’ Since the woman has her hands full caring for her 20 year old son, who has a severe disability, she cannot take a job. ‘My daughter tried so hard to graduate middle-school, that I wanted to get a job for her’. She coped with the cost of cram school at more than 10,000 yen ($113), and in spring last year her daughter passed the entrance exam to a public school. Now, the woman’s worry is how to come up with money for school trips.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the number of single-mother households in receipt of social security benefits were approximately 115,000 households as of October last year. Akaishi Chieko, administrative director of the NPO ‘Single Mothers’ Forum’, said, ‘It’s very strange that they’ve issued a preliminary budget in which they compare those in poverty and say that they’re being ‘overpaid’ without looking at the circumstances of the people involved.’
UPDATE: Compare the 2ch.net comments with Hatena Bookmarks added below.
Comments from Hamusoku.com:
If you’ve got the time to say such stuck-up things, then get to work. Don’t think that you have a choice when you’re in a position to be receiving the money others have contributed through working.
Try saying that in front of people who live not knowing where their next meal is coming from, but who don’t receive any benefits.
Isn’t it a strange state of affairs when you can earn more money than someone who works without working yourself.
They should cut the benefits of foreigners who aren’t entitled to them first. The government really should support families where a parent can’t work because of illness.
I can’t forgive the fact that they’ve got more money than me and I go to work everyday.
Back in the old days people were really something. They often used to say ‘He who does not work shall not eat.’
It’s difficult, though, there are loads of people who get overpaid and they’ll get what they deserve. But there are definitely also people who are in trouble, and it’s a situation I really sympathise with. It’s just that those with the loudest voices are the former.
Let’s just cut off those bastards who are of no benefit to the state. We don’t need people who are only a step removed from criminals.
I get pissed off when I see single-mothers who work while being careful that they don’t earn too much. When it’s their fault that they’re divorced in the first place. Anyway, once the kid’s over eighteen, they won’t be getting anything ww
How about getting a part-time job?(･∀･)
If the couple originally had an income, then even if they break up they don’t get anything in the end. If you think about what put the idea into their heads about ‘fake marriages’ then see. It’s all single-mother families where the father is a Toku-A [from an Asian country that are perceived as having a negative view of Japan]. Put an end to it.
I mean, think about it properly. Why are they getting paid when they’re not working? If it’s as easy as that, I’m becoming unemployed. I work my butt off and I get 190,0000 yen. Daily living expenses 600 yen. I just don’t understand their mindset.
Let’s build welfare dormitories and make them live there. I mean, all we have to do is give them basic rights. If they don’t like it, let them work.
I…learned that the state exists to protect the lives and property of the people. However, there are conditions. As the price for this, the people must fulfill their ‘obligations’. To put it another way, if you don’t fulfill your obligations, you cannot be given ‘citizens’ rights’. What I mean is….those who lack the qualifications to be a citizen of Japan are not part of ‘the people’…They’re not covered by social security. Do you see what I mean?
Comments from Hatena Bookmarks:
A reform in which children, who will carry Japan’s future, are being discarded, huh? Saying that ‘it’s because it doesn’t get through to the people who need it’ is just pure nonsense.
I think it’s a mistake to reduce social security benefits. But that woman in her thirties from Tokyo who ‘gets clothes and furniture from people she knows, and uses a half-broken washing machine and vacuum cleaner. She can’t afford to send her children to cram school’. It shouldn’t be like that. I guess she’s just bad at managing her life.
If they’re going to drag single-mothers or single-fathers who are busy bringing up children out into the work place, then the priority should be to make sure that other unemployed people get work too. Plus, and it may sound like I’m repeating myself, but even if they’re working, if they’re below the threshold they can recieve social security (properly speaking).
When I read this, I get the impression that inadequacies elsewhere in the social security system are being shifted to the social welfare benefits. If so, then first and foremost they should change this system.
I mean, if you’re a single mother who’s a housewife, then is it necessary to work? I think that it’s right that in a time where the birthrate is falling, the government gives money to these mothers as if to say please bring this child up as best you can.
I think people who drop out of their work contracts half-way through, don’t work but still eat are much worse, and they’re rampant in society. To say nothing of those who allow themselves to do outrageous and illegal things to earn a living, and then when they’re found out, this society in which we have individual responsibility blames the wrongdoing on someone else. That’s nothing short of monstrous.
They say that ‘oh they’re living in luxury, earning more than the working poor!’, but to make the living standards of the working poor the yardstick as to whether or not something is luxury, well that’s just ‘a slave who’s proud of his chains’.
Although their outgoings are less that a working poor family because of financial aid and tax breaks, how luxurious does it have to be for them to be satisfied? There’s even financial aid for school trips.
If we support single-mother families, the birthrate will be restored, and future tax income will increase. France is a good example. Social security should be an investment for the country’s future….Plus, bringing up children *is* a job.