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Article: Japan’s Silent Poor

51-year-old Japanese widow Satomi Sato works two low-wage jobs to support herself and daughter but barely makes ends meet. Photo by Ko Sasaki for New York Times.

Japan last fall announced its official poverty line for the first time.

The move was a surprise because many Japanese claim they live in a homogenous, mostly middle class society that does not have stark divisions between rich and poor, according to this New York Times article.

In fact Japan, which sunk into economic stagnation years ago, has a 15.7 percent poverty rate. That is just below 17.1 percent in the United States.

Some social workers are concerned poor people who cannot afford to educate their children in Japan’s highly competitive educational system will pass their plight on to the next generation.

“We are at risk of creating a chronic underclass,” said Toshihiko Kudo, a board member of Ashinaga, a nonprofit group based in Tokyo that helps poor children and orphans.

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