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Nationwide committee to support Japan's single moms to launch July 7

Chieko Akaishi, head of nonprofit organization Single Mothers Forum, holds a flyer about a meeting to take place on the day Single Mother Support Dantai Zenkoku Kyogikai will be established, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on June 28, 2019. (Mainichi/Eri Misono)

TOKYO -- A national committee to provide better assistance to single mothers and their families is set to launch on July 7.

The committee -- Single Mother Support Dantai Zenkoku Kyogikai -- is composed of existing single parent support groups and other bodies.

Many single mothers are non-regular employees, and one-parent families have high rates of poverty, making them some of Japanese society's most vulnerable members. The new committee will aim to create an environment where these families can deepen ties and live active lives. It will be made up of 20 groups consisting of single moms and work with 44 child care support and anti-poverty organizations.

Chieko Akaishi, head of Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Single Mothers Forum who called for the committee to be set up, says poverty in single-mom families is a longstanding problem. She stated, "There is a need to make their voices heard in government and society, and to improve ways to help them. There are areas in the country without even one support group, and through the committee we hope to prevent them from becoming isolated."

According to a 2016 Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare survey, there were an estimated 1.23 million single-mother households in Japan, an 80,000 increase over the last decade. Though about 80% of single moms were employed, their average annual income stood at just 2.43 million yen, and only about 40% of them were regular workers.

Many were in financial trouble. While the poverty rate for all households with at least one child was 12.9% in 2015, the poverty rate among single-parent households was 50.8%.

A meeting will take place in Tokyo on the day the committee is established, and members will issue a statement calling for single-mom households to live with pride as one form of family.

For inquiries, please call Single Mothers Forum at 03-3263-1519 (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Eri Misono, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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