Government survey on poverty among Okinawa families

According to a survey on poverty in Okinawa by the Okinawa Prefecture Government announced on Friday, one of four mothers and one if two fathers of poor families bring up their children enduring much stress, as they work 6 to 7 days a week to make ends meet.

Among households with the annual income of less than ¥3 million, 37.0% have a child in the first grade of elementary school, and 32.2% have a child in the second grade of high school. The majority of families with children in both categories were households with the annual income between ¥2 and ¥3 million. This shows that the income of the parents does not rise even when their children grow up.

21.6% of the mothers of children in the second grade of high school work 6 days a week, and 43.1% fathers do so. 3.3% mothers and 7.2% of fathers answered they work 7 days a week.

Takashi Shimabukuro, an associate professor at Okinawa University, points out, “If you work in the service sector that is the majority of jobs in Okinawa, you need to work during weekends as well. And if you are a temporary worker, you need to work a lot of time as the working hours directly reflect your salary.”

Asked about stress, 29.4% of parents of the first grade elementary school students answered, “I become easily irritated with my children” and 16.9% answered, “I feel stressed bringing up children alone.” 43.8% confessed to have physically hit their children, and 1.4% said that they had little interest in taking care of their children.

23% among parents of children in the second grade of high school, answered, “I have felt hopeless”, and 25.8% answered “I have felt that I’m a worthless person,” during the last 30 days.

Kenji Nashiro, an associate professor at Okinawa University and a social worker, points out, “The response rate to the survey was 70%. I suppose that the 30% who did not respond are in even more dire situations.”