Poverty in Japan and the UK

The “invisibility” of poverty in Japanese society has long been one of the reasons for the underestimation of this social issue by the authorities. Walking down a street in Tokyo, it is rare to see any signs of poverty. Graffiti and run-down buildings are almost non-existent, and the crime rate is very low. Nevertheless, data from the OECD reveals that the poverty rate in Japan (15.7% in 2018) is actually higher than that in the UK (11.7%). Moreover, the impact of COVID-19 seems to be exacerbating social divisions and inequality, revealing the true scale of the problem. Research methods developed in the UK are helping finally to uncover Japan’s ‘hidden’ poverty, and policies are, slowly, starting to be implemented.

In this lecture, held on Tuesday 23 March 2021, Professor Aya Abe, Director of The Research Centre for Child and Adolescent Poverty at Tokyo Metropolitan University, described how Japan “discovered” the problem of child poverty and how social science informed policymakers. Professor David Gordon, Director of the Bristol Poverty Institute and the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, followed with a discussion of the UK’s experience of child poverty, its anti-poverty policies, and some of the lessons that have been learned from poverty research.

Professor Aya Abe’s presentation slides are available to download here: Understanding “poverty” in Japan Aya Abe (Director, Research Center for Child & Adolescent Poverty, Tokyo Metropolitan University ) (dajf.org.uk)

Professor David Gordon’s presentation slides are available to download here: PowerPoint Presentation (dajf.org.uk)

A video recording of this lecture is available to watch here.

This lecture was organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.


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