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Students to feel pinch of latest budget cuts

Date Posted: 2006-06-02

Student aid is being slashed as the government announces another round of budget cuts across Japan.
A welfare subsidy under the Livelihood Protection Act is being abolished because funding has dried up.

The program, being cut 26%, will strip families of money for childrens’ school food costs. A family with two children currently receives Y8,000 monthly.

Most recipients are single mothers, divorced couples or jobless families. About 20,000 Okinawa children will be affected by the change. All 41 of Okinawa’s villages, towns and cities will feel the pain to some degree. The Okinawa Prefecture funding for welfare programs from the central government has been cut, leaving the Prefecture with no choice but to pass the cuts on.

“Please be more independent,” it asks the families involved. The 20,000 children currently in the program is expected to grow by another 1,200 in three years, and there is no money to support them.

Officials say Okinawa’s 13.81% welfare rate is higher than the nationwide average 12.8%. Okinawa City is far beyond that, where one in five children is receiving welfare payments each month. Naha City welfare level is at 17.65%, Ginowan City at 17.10%, and Itoman City 15.80%. “It’s a very special situation in Okinawa because of the highest divorce rate, plus low pay and many unemployed workers.

Okinawa City reports more single mothers living within its boundaries than anywhere else in the prefecture. Its rules for getting welfare money will have to be modified to meet the 26% budget cut.

Kitadaitou Minami Daitou Village doesn’t receive any welfare money, while Zamami Village receives 2%. Ozato Village is low at 3.80% and Nakijin Village 3.90%.

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