Abe Fellowship Colloquium - Economic Disparity and Poverty - Reporting on US Experiences

, 2:30pm –
International House of Japan 403-404 Seminar Room (5-11-16 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032)

Minako Sasako (2016 AFJ Fellow)
Staff Writer, International News Department,Yomiuri Shimbun

Kumiko Nakatsuka (2015 AFJ Fellow)
Staff Writer, Life and Culture News Section of Editorial Division, Osaka Head Office, Asahi Shimbun

Chiaki Moriguchi (2004 Abe Fellow)
Associate Professor, Comparative and World Economics, Hitotsubashi University

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Tokyo Office and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP) jointly sponsored an Abe Fellowship Colloquium on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at the International House in Tokyo. The colloquium featured reports on the growing income gap in the United States by Abe Journalism Fellowships, Minako Sasako of the Yomiuri Shimbun (2016) and Kumiko Nakatsuka (AFJ 2015). Chiaki Moriguchi (Abe Fellow 2004) of the Institute of Economic Research at Hitotsubashi University served as moderator and commentator. 

Minako Sasako discussed the growing economic and social divisions in the city of Atlanta. Sasako spent her time as an Abe Journalism Fellow reporting from Sandy Springs, GA, a predominantly white and affluent community north of Atlanta that broke away from the surrounding county that was predominantly poorer and black. Sasako argued that many other American cities have similar problems, and are also experiencing increasing levels of racial and economic polarization, with little improvement in sight.

Kumiko Nakatsuka, an expert on child poverty in Japan, reported on her research on private and community efforts in the United States and United Kingdom to deal with growing income gaps. Drawing on her interviews with public officials, non-profit organizations, and families, Nakatsuka discussed the successes and limitations of private and community action, and stressed the need for stronger public support to alleviate poverty.

Chiaki Moriguchi provided rich comparative data on the growing income gaps in the United States and Japan, arguing that although both are experiencing growing income gaps, the reasons and patterns are different. In the United States the gap is a result of the rapid increase in the percentage of income and assets held by the top 1% of the population, while in Japan it is a result of the impoverishment of lower income groups. Moriguchi noted impoverishment among three groups: the elderly, those with unstable jobs, and single mothers, was especially pronounced.