TOKYO -- The central government is being called on to fix issues that exclude recently divorced single-parent households from its 100,000 yen (about $874) worth of handouts to households with children aged 18 or younger as part of measures alleviating the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
On Dec. 22, the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) filed a request with the Cabinet Secretariat over the issue. It urged the government to "issue an administrative circular to municipalities asking that the (100,000-yen) handout be distributed to single parents raising children since divorcing in or after September."
An individual connected to a nonprofit organization supporting single parents who accompanied CDP lawmakers to the request's filing said the nonprofit has had numerous complaints from single parents who divorced in or after September. One apparently told the group, "I was told by a municipal service counter that I could not receive the benefits. I'm in despair."
Behind the problem is the benefit program's arrangement. The government has specified that households eligible for the 100,000-yen handout are those that had received child allowance for September, excluding anomalous cases such as where babies were born in or after September 2021.
According to sources including the Cabinet Secretariat, if a recently divorced parent has taken custody of their child and is raising them, they would not be eligible for the 100,000-yen benefit if their ex-spouse received the September child allowance. In this case, the ex-spouse is entitled to the 100,000-yen handout, despite them not raising the child anymore.
Some local bodies including the Akashi Municipal Government in Hyogo Prefecture plan to independently supply the 100,000-yen handout to single parents raising children. The CDP urged the central government to uniformly allow such initiatives across the country.
CDP House of Representatives lawmaker Kazunori Yamanoi pointed out that several tens of thousands of single-parent households could be ineligible for the 100,000-yen handout. Sakura Uchikoshi, a House of Councillors member of the CDP, also emphasized, "Recently divorced households are the ones that should be receiving the handout." According to the CDP, a Cabinet Secretariat official overseeing the issue responded, "We will take the request seriously."
According to an associate of the nonprofit group, a woman who divorced in October queried a local municipality about the 100,000-yen handout in November and was told the cash would be paid into her ex-husband's account. But because the woman doesn't know his contact details, she cannot ask him to redirect the cash to her.
"I have custody of our child. That the cash is being paid to my ex-husband even though our child is right next to me makes me feel like I've been defrauded. I'm left feeling hopeless," she reportedly said.
Another woman apparently told the nonprofit group, "Our divorce settlement dragged on because of domestic violence. I get no support even though I've become a single mother. Why is the national government treating me so cruelly?"
(Japanese original by Ryuko Tadokoro, Political News Department)