Tokyo | February 2011

 JPY 1,679; JPY 394 (USD 4.84, EUR 3.51) for food.

This is based on per capita per-day basis of Japan’s relative poverty line, average low-income household disposable income spent on food (excluding beverages, eating out and cooked meals).

Japan announced its poverty rate for the first time in October 2009, stating that 15.7% of the population fell below the poverty line in 2006, rising from 14.9% in 2003. The relative poverty rate for children was 14.2%. Japan’s social security expenditure was 24.4% of its national income in 2009; about 70% of this was for elderly benefits. The elderly are also helped through long-term care insurance system, which has over 3.8 million users. All citizens belong to a public medical insurance system, and the government has implemented compulsory 9-years of schooling, which is free at national and public schools.

Japan follows the relative poverty line defined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is half of the median national disposable income. Taking into account the relative income approach (instead of an absolute poverty based on basic needs expenditure), and the higher standards of living involving non-food consumption, our project focused on the food expenditure of low-income households. The average household size of the lowest income quintile was 1.86. Poverty information is under the purview of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which runs the National Livelihood Survey, and household income distribution data is also collected by the Statistics Bureau, through the National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure.

Note: Latest available standards and exchange rates were taken as of February 2011, when the photography was undertaken.

Understanding More

Japan Tries to Face Up to Growing Poverty Problem

First Ever Poverty Rate Released by Ministry Stands at Relatively High 15.7

Change in Relative Poverty in Japan

Statistical Handbook of Japan 2010

Japanese Relatively Poor: OECD

Poverty in Japan

OECD, 2008, Growing Unequal? : Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries – Country Note for Japan