First ever poverty rate released by ministry stands at relatively high 15.7%

The national poverty rate stood at 15.7 percent in 2006, according to first-ever figures released Tuesday by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, a fairly high rate for a developed country.

The poverty rate for children was 14.2 percent that year, the ministry said. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development defines households with less than half the median national disposable income as poor. For Japan it was ¥1.14 million in 2006.

The OECD has published the poverty rates for member countries through 2004, but the Japanese government had not previously calculated the rate.

The rate in Japan “is quite high among the OECD countries,” welfare minister Akira Nagatsuma said at a news conference.