Social Security Review Says Single Mothers Are ‘Overpaid’

Single mothers in Japan fear reduction in social security benefits after Japanese government proposes reduction,

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:

ハムスター名無し:

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.

ハムスターちゃんねる:

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.

ハムスター名無し:

Isn’t it a strange state of affairs when you can earn more money than someone who works without working yourself.

ハムスター名無し:

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.

ムスターちゃんねる:

I can’t forgive the fact that they’ve got more money than me and I go to work everyday.

ハムスターちゃんねる:

Back in the old days people were really something. They often used to say ‘He who does not work shall not eat.’

ハムスター名無し:

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.

ハムスターちゃんねる:

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.

ハムスターちゃんねる:

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

ハムスターちゃんねる:

How about getting a part-time job?(・∀・)

ハムスターちゃんねる:

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.

ハムスターちゃんねる:

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.

ハムスター名無し:

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.

奈々氏:

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:

sandayuu:

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.

n2khjm:

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.

KamPinTang

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).

te2u

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.

enderuku:

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.

oakrw

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.

ncc1701:

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’.

kukky

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.

taka18782:

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.

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  • Kate

    The last statement says it best “issueing a budget and saying they’re overpaid without looking at individual circumstances.” The standard amount issued is very little in comparison to the costs of raising 2 or more children. It seems as though they are attacking one of the most vulnerable groups within society because they want to cut spending and single mothers are the easiest to attack due to prejudices and their limited resources to stand up for themselves. With only 11,000 single mother households it doesnt seem as though these women are “moochers” but genuinely need help due to unfortunate circumstances(unlike many single moms in the usa where its a lifestyle to not work or be married to collect welfare and foodstamps and free housing and insurance. My stepsister is one of those women. She has 2 kids with 2 different dads, whom aren’t anywhere to be found, and refuses to work and she’s only 22). Those kinds deserve a kick in the butt to get them to stop being.moochers but then there are those women who are single due to bad circumstances like widowers or those from bad marriages where the husband is abusive or a cheat or has an alcohol/drug problem, etc and they deserve help. It’ll be interesting to see what the government decides.

    • besudesu

      There are 115,000 households, not 11,000. My fault, I initially put the comma in the wrong place — hazard of the job! Still, you’re right Kate, it’s not a huge proportion of Japanese society.

      • linette lee

        I often don’t understand why USA provide financial aid for single moms who have many kids with different fathers. They should be allowed assistance for the first kid. No more birth if she is still on public assistance. Second child she can get abortion. If she doesn’t want to due to religious or personal reason her second child will not be entitled for financial aid. She can give the child up for adoption. It has to be strict like this to prevent octomom. What to do.

  • Fahrenheit

    I think we can agree that no one is in support of the abuse of government assistance but these comments under the article…. so inhuman and so despicable.

    • Kate

      Oh hateful misogny is always present in the netizen comments….I especially loved the comment “its the womens fault they’re divorced” because ypu know its always the womans fault because men are perfect people who don’t abuse their wives or cheat or have alcohol problems or would ever leave their wife for another woman. Nope men have never done any of those things which is why its always the fault of the woman, she should just suck it up and take the abuse and adultry like a good slave.

      • Relivash

        lets not stray from the main problem. These people are, upset due to their current economy (and working for a living in Japan is hellish work) and take their frustration ou on a weaker group of society. I’m pretty sure some of the single moms might be “mooching of”, but certainly not all; cause raising kids with only one parent is a big challenge.

        • Relivash

          Furthermore, this kind of problem has also occured in our western society. (Though most likely without such tasteless comments). (Isn’t it funny that a considerable part of japanese on the net are NEETs? aren’t they mooching off?)

          • besudesu

            Yeah a lot of those kids are probably mooching off their parents! If I can find some more comments from elsewhere I’ll update so that readers can compare.

        • http://twitter.com/Caaaal Callum

          scape goating is silly though… especially when they are blaming the weakest instead of the abusive rich….

          • Relivash

            I couldn’t agree more. Sadly enough, it’s easier to kick downwards than upwards….

      • AnthonyLudovici

        Realistically speaking, do you think a woman should leave her husband the moment she finds out that he’s cheated?

        I’m not putting my lot into this argument one way or the other, I’m just curious.

  • Flora

    I was raised my entire life by a single mother. And let me tell you, there’s no such thing as “overpaid” in that situation.

    There’s just “tight”, “tighter”, and “dear Jesus, how are we gonna work this one out?”.

    • Paul M

      Hear hear! I was brought up by a single mother too and as soon as I was old enough to heat up a tin of beans when I got back from school my mam was out working. Fortunately we had understanding neighbours who didn’t report her for “abandoning me”. It’s a no win situation for single mothers – stay at home to raise your kids = mooching of welfare, go out to work instead of relying on benefits = abandoning your kids.

  • besudesu

    I agree with what’s been said so far. I mean, we do have to take into account that these are 2ch comments, so they’re going to be somewhat inflammatory. But the fact remains that Japan (and not only Japan) doesn’t do enough to support women in general, let alone single mothers. Even if the women wanted to work, they would be unable to pay for the childcare they’d need.

    • http://www.facebook.com/inahson Yaminah Jamison

      Though I also heard Japan doesn’t really have any programs for single dads since it’s uncommon but… still not fair.

      • besudesu

        Yeah it’s the same situation. I mean, it’s kind of unfair to just refer to women, since there are single fathers in Japan too, but they’re much rarer at the moment.

        • Hokit

          Could be that in divorce, custody is overwhelmingly awarded to the mothers, making single fathers an even rarer phenomenon…

          • besudesu

            I have no doubt that that’s half of the problem. The other half is probably the idea that it is emasculating and unacceptable to be a single-father, though I’m pretty sure that will change. The problem with patriarchal societies is that both men and women get a rough deal. Men just tend to make more money from it and get rewarded with a better status.

          • Justin_kBANG

            the (pater)-family as the basic social unit in the social welfare provision schema in Japan has been pointed out as inegalitarian and rather un-democratic. but then those ideational values may not have much purchase with the people listed above. one could argue over cultural norm, etc but it is quite silly if it comes to the question of minimum livelihood guarantees and entitlement. that’s the foundational premise of modern lib-egalitarian democracy. but not sure how much of that get through on popular level… same goes for Korea as well – seems rather typical of patriarchal developmental state model and its attendant difficiency in social cost understanding :p

    • linette lee

      Don’t these single moms get child support from the father? Aren’t they supposed to get money from the fathers before they tap into public assistance?

      Divorce allows you to relinquish responsibility as a wife/husband, not as mother/father. You are still responsible as parents to raise your kids and provide for them financially until they are adults.

      And these mothers really can not work full time unless they have childcare or baby sitters. Kids and preteens need to have adult supervision. That is just part of parental responsibility. Raising kids is a full time job itself. The mom can have a side job working part time outside to help with household expenses, but that means she won’t be able to rest. She will be a full time mom and have another part time job outside working more than 40 hours a week. That’s a hard life.

      • http://www.facebook.com/inahson Yaminah Jamison

        Not all single moms gets child support and that’s even if half of them were divorced anyway. What should be isn’t what it is in reality. My mom’s still getting backed up child support from both fathers.. and my brother is already 30. I don’t quite know how things go in Japan but I’m sure many dads (and even moms but this case dads) evade paying child support just like many have in other countries.

        And your 3rd paragraph… tons of moms are doing that. More like you gotta do what you gotta do when no one else is willing to help. Been there and gone through it since my mom raised my brother and I alone. But everyone also have different views/methods of child raising and it’s not like every kid had to have an adult around them 24/7. Plenty of times I stayed home alone while my brother went out and about over his friend’s. I had enough common sense to not do things I wasn’t suppose to do. Just also depends on how one raises their kids.

        • linette lee

          ………..evade paying child support

          ……………….Not all single moms gets child support and that’s even if half of them were divorced anyway. What should be isn’t what it is in reality…………………….

          Your two sentences sum up why the USA needs a stricter public assistance program.

          These families should not expect other working class tax payers to pay and raise kids for them. Everyone is responsible financially providing for their own kids. If you can only afford one kid then let it be only one kid. People can’t keep making baby when they can’t even put food on the table for the first kid. One child receiving public assistance from working tax payer is enough, getting pregnant so to have the second child also to receive more public assistance is almost like a crime against working taxpayers.

          I can understand if a mother already have two to three kids and never received any aid, but all the sudden her husband died and she is having financial difficulty, then she should be allowed to get public assistance because she is in special circumstance.

  • besudesu

    The article has now been updated to reflect some views from other online spheres. The 2ch.net comments by far outnumber these, but at least it shows some diversity of viewpoints.

    • Pid

      Is it only in Japanese? :(

      • besudesu

        what do you mean, Pid? The updates are in English, after the 2ch comments (^-^)

        • Pid

          I mean the site of 2ch.net? It seems all Japanese? XD

  • Hokit

    What a load of crock. It’s as if most of them are unaware that Japan’s biggest problems can be tied down to inflexible systems that underappreciate women. They want single mothers to be in the workforce? Then why not pressure the bureaucrats to provide better conditions and more support that make it possible for the mothers to work? At least one of the reactions recognised that raising a household is full-time work. Sure, economic conditions at the moment are tough, but they’ll be unbearable when an aged population strains resources to breaking point and mothers, whether married or single, are the key to Japan’s future survival.

    • besudesu

      Absolutely. +1.

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