You’re as poor as you feel, but economists demand a criterion that’s more exact. One way is the “relative poverty” index, which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses. The poverty line is set at about one-half a country’s median individual income. If your income falls below that line, you are considered poor.
The Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare recently released the relative poverty statistics for Japan as of last year, and found that 16 percent of Japan’s population falls below the poverty line, which is calculated as being about ¥1.12 million in annual income for one person. This is 0.3 percentage points higher than it was the last time the survey was taken, in 2007, and 4 percentage points higher than the figure found during the first survey in 1985. On the other hand, the average population portion living below the poverty line for all 30 countries in the OECD is 10.6 percent, which is 0.4 percentage points lower than three years ago. (The only other OECD country with a higher poverty rate than Japan’s is the U.S., at 17.1 percent.) For reference, the average household income in Japan is ¥5.49 million.