Resolution Requesting the Breaking of the Chain of Poverty and Realization of the Rights of All Children to Live, Grow, and Develop
Recently, poverty has been increasing at a rapid pace throughout Japan and the environment surrounding children has been plunged into crisis. There is an ever increasing number of children for whom the fees for childcare, school lunches, and high school remain unpaid, who have unwillingly dropped out of high schools or given up on university education, who do not receive adequate medical treatment and suffer from deteriorating physical and mental health, or who face poverty as they are deprived of opportunities to live as part of a family due to abusive households or because of the destruction of the family. The government finally revealed that one in seven children below the age of 17 in Japan are living in poverty. In particular it was revealed that more than half of those in single parent families are living in poverty.
In Japan, the poverty rate facing children after the redistribution of income by means of taxes or social security is higher than that of before the redistribution. This means that the political measures primarily undertaken to alleviate poverty have, in actual fact, failed to achieve their objective and have instead resulted in a worsening of child poverty. The number of unstable and low-wage jobs has been increasing due to the expansion of irregular employment resulting from the relaxation of restrictions in the labor field. Under the structural reforms promoted by the government, the social security system was revised to cut welfare benefits for families with children and raise their tax burden. These factors have contributed to the fragility of families, despite the fact that this is exactly where children should be raised. In the field of education, the scope of public education has been narrowed and people have been required to bear more expenses for children’s education.
In order to ensure that all children are protected from any accumulation of disadvantages, preventative measures against poverty and early assistance should be provided. However, if children who have been deprived of the education and support which are supposed to be guaranteed for them are unable to escape from poverty even after growing up, this means that the poverty of parents will result in the poverty of children, and the so-called “chain of poverty” will be created.
This present situation violates children’s rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as the right to live, the right to grow and develop, the right to education, and the right to be cared for in a family environment. We can no longer ignore this situation.
In order to break the chain of poverty and ensure that all children are able to live, grow, and develop without anxiety regardless of their family environment, the JFBA urges the state and local governments to drastically improve labor laws and social security and essentially guarantee the right to education, in particular by taking the measures listed below.
I. Research to be Immediately Conducted and Comprehensive Measures to be Adopted
- Research should be immediately conducted into the real-life situation surrounding child poverty. Based on the results of the research, goals should be set accompanied by time deadlines and comprehensive and practical measures targeting child poverty should be immediately established and undertaken in order to accomplish the goals.
- A professional, effective, continuous, and all-encompassing assistance mechanism should be developed by establishing one-stop assistance centers in local areas and introducing social workers at school so that early assistance can be provided for all children in accordance with their stages of growth.
II. Prevention of Poverty and Avoidance of Disadvantages for All Children
- The number of child care facilities should be increased as well as improving their quality to ensure that the right to receive good child care is guaranteed for all children.
- Tuition fees for all public compulsory education curricula and high schools should be free. Measures to alleviate financial strain for higher education and private high schools should also be enhanced. The education system should be improved so that the right of all children to receive education appropriate to their abilities and stages of growth is guaranteed.
- In addition to raising the child-rearing allowance, the provision of comprehensive assistance for issues such as daily living, job hunting, technical training, and housing, etc. should be enhanced especially for single-parent families whose poverty rate is considerably higher than average.
- The social child care system should be enhanced for children who became difficult to be cared for in their family. In addition, coordinators should be allocated in order to continuously provide necessary assistance for each child. Furthermore, a court-appointed representative system and a legal-aid grant system should be introduced in order to ensure that children are able to receive legal assistance from attorneys through public funds.
The JFBA will enhance its efforts to address the issues surrounding the current situation under which the ranks of the needy are rapidly increasing. In addition, it will conduct research, make recommendations, and provide counseling services, in collaboration with citizens and organizations which are addressing child poverty issues, aiming for the recovery of children from the jaws of poverty and the prevention of child poverty in the first place. The JFBA will also reinforce its other activities including campaigns to bring about systemic reforms.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
October 8, 2010,
at the JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights