Home / Courses / Business English / Business Skills / Business conversation / Hidden poverty growing under Abe

Hidden poverty growing under Abe

Down and out in Shibuya

This is a business conversation lesson on the topic of poverty, income equality and economics in Japan. It is particularly useful if you are taking the G.B.C. test, as there are often questions about Japan's economy. This will help you give a well-informed answer on that topic.


Japan has long prided itself on its economic equality, with a huge middle class of more than 100 million people. Is Abenomics making Japan more or less equal?

Before your class, read this article in the Japan times. Be sure to make notes of any language you could not understand. You can ask your teacher in class.

Warm Up: 

What is the article about? Summarize the main points for your teacher.

Comprehension questions

Let's check your comprehension. Answer these questions for your teacher. If you cannot remember the answer try skimming the article for the answer:

  1. What is the relative poverty rate?
  2. Is Japan better or worse than the OECD average relative poverty rate?
  3. Explain the Gini coefficient.
Paraphrasing questions

Paraphrase these sentences from the article. Try to explain the meaning of the sentence in different words:

  1. "The high percentage of Japan’s relative poverty rate doesn’t mean all people under the threshold suffer dire penury. Some of them may be just slightly below it and have difficulty making ends meet. But it’s not like they have to apply for welfare benefits"
  2. "In claiming that economic disparities have not widened, Abe has argued that the government’s wealth redistribution policy has helped keep the nation’s Gini coefficient unchanged over the years."
  3. "Tomuro attributed the increasing poverty to the decades of economic slump that led to a rise in non-regular workers, who are paid less than others."

Discuss the issue with your teacher. Here are some questions to help you start:

  1. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of Japan's economy?
  2. Do you think that Abenomics has been successful? Why or why not?
  3. If you were in charge of Japan, what would you do to address this issue?