Raising a child as a single mother in Japan can be an arduous journey. Despite the societal and cultural challenges that they face, single mothers continue to persevere and provide the best for their children. 

Parenting can be challenging under any circumstance, but raising a child alone presents a unique set of difficulties. For single mothers in Japan, the road to raising a child solo can be particularly challenging. Balancing work and child-rearing responsibilities, navigating financial constraints, and social stigmatisation are just a few of the many struggles that single mothers in Japan face.

In recent years, various support systems have emerged to help single mothers navigate the obstacles they face. From government subsidies to non-profit organisations, there are resources available to help single mothers in Japan get the support they need to succeed.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the challenges faced by single mothers in Japan and explore the resources and organisations that are available to provide them with assistance and support.  

Raising a Child Solo: Single Mothers in Japan and the Support Available to Help Them Succeed

Challenges Faced by Single Mothers in Japan

Being a single mother is a tough job, and it can be especially challenging in Japan, where women may face a wide range of difficulties, including social stigma, financial hardship, and difficulties finding affordable housing.

One of the biggest challenges for single parents in Japan is the social stigma attached to being a solo guardian. In Japanese culture, there is still a prevalent belief that children should be raised in two-parent households, and single mothers are often judged or ostracised by their communities. This can make it difficult for them to find social support and can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Challenges Faced by Single Mothers In Japan


Financial hardship is another significant challenge that single mothers in Japan often face. Women in Japan already earn less than men on average, and when combined with the added costs of raising a child alone, many single mothers find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Childcare costs, in particular, can be a significant financial burden, as there is a shortage of affordable childcare options in many areas of the country.

In addition to these challenges, it is also difficult to find affordable housing. Many landlords are hesitant to rent to single mothers, and those who do often charge higher rents or require a large deposit upfront. This can make it challenging for single mothers to find suitable housing for themselves and their children, especially in urban areas where housing prices are high.

Despite these circumstances, many single mothers in Japan are determined to provide the best possible life for their children. In the next section, we will explore the various support systems available to assist and help them overcome these challenges.

Available Support

Many cities in Japan have single mothers’ associations, which provide a range of support services including counselling, job training, and networking opportunities. These associations also organise events and activities for single mothers and their children, providing a sense of community and social support. 

Here are some of the significant associations in Japan that offer considerable support to single mothers:

Little Ones

Little Ones is a nonprofit organisation that operates in the Tokyo area, providing vital support to single mothers and fathers. The association was established in 2010 with the aim of helping single mothers and their children through various activities such as monthly events, social gatherings, consultations, and more. The association offers consultations to families all over Japan, but the focus is primarily on the Tokyo area.

One of the association’s main goals is to provide support to single mothers and their children, and their activities reflect this mission. Little Ones organises regular social gatherings that have become popular among single mothers in Tokyo, as they provide an opportunity for networking, making friends, and exchanging information. These events also include seasonal giveaways of clothes, which can be of great help to families in need.

Little Ones Japan


Little Ones also provides consultation services to single mothers and their children, which can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of daily life. The association can help with legal matters, job searches, and finding suitable schools for children. If necessary, they can also connect families with specialists in various areas to offer additional support and guidance.

The association’s monthly parent-child events offer a much-needed break from the stresses of daily life and give families the opportunity to participate in fun activities such as barbecues, hiking, trips, and Christmas parties. 

Apart from these, Little Ones help families find suitable housing, which can be a challenging task, particularly for single mothers. They provide this service for free and help families find accommodation that suits their unique needs, such as housing without a deposit or a guarantor.

Little Ones Japan


Housing Support Programmes

In collaboration with the United Nations, Little Ones has come up with a housing support program for single mothers in Japan. The aim of this project is to provide affordable living by renovating abandoned or unoccupied houses. To achieve this, the organisation works with property owners, real estate agents, and government agencies to obtain vacant private properties, which are then renovated and rented out to single mothers at an affordable price.

In a nutshell, Little Ones is a valuable organisation that provides an essential support system for single mothers and their children. They have created a unique support system by connecting various industries and providing various services and activities to help ease the struggles of raising a child solo.

Raising a Child Solo: Single Mothers in Japan and the Support Available to Help Them Succeed


Japan Single Mother Support Association

Local nonprofit Japan Single Mother Support Association serves as a valuable resource for single mothers seeking economic independence and self-sufficiency. The association provides a range of services that include information provision, consultation, job support, and networking opportunities to support the personal and professional development of single mothers.

One of the most notable services offered by the Association is the delivery of an email magazine that provides useful information and resources for single mothers. Through a free membership program, single mothers can receive advice on a range of topics, including work, divorce, relationships, child-rearing, and financial management. In addition to this, the association also offers personalised consultations for single mothers who are seeking guidance on job-related matters.

The association’s MES Employment Program is a unique initiative that helps single mothers find jobs that provide them with the income they need to support themselves and their families. Once a job is secured, single mothers are supported for about a year to ensure that they have a stable and secure life. The program is tailored to the individual needs of single mothers, taking into account their unique circumstances and requirements.

To help single mothers find suitable employment, the association offers job information through its Hello Work for Single Mothers service. The association has certified several companies as Mama Best Partner Companies, which are recognised as employers that prioritise women’s social advancement and support the balance between work and childcare.

The association also offers various networking opportunities for single mothers, including online tea parties and a members-only LINE group. Through these platforms, single mothers can connect with other women who are facing similar challenges and share information and resources to help them overcome their struggles.

Japan Single Mother Support Association


Other services offered by the association include legal advice, immigration support, and room search assistance. The association also provides a matchmaking service for single mothers who are looking to get married within the next two years.

The Japan Single Mother Support Association’s commitment to supporting single mothers extends beyond its services and programs. The association also operates the Single Parent Concierge® service, which provides personalised consultation services for single mothers seeking support in stabilising their lives. 

Additionally, the Smile Academy Kigyoujuku is a course that aims to cultivate the mindset necessary for success in various fields, while the Everyone Support Program is a platform that allows single mothers in need of support to create wish lists on Amazon. Through its research arm, the Japan Single Mother Research Institute, the association also proposes measures to address the social issues that affect single mothers and women more broadly.

Japan Single Mother Support Association


Case Study: City of Yokohama

The City of Yokohama provides various forms of support to single parent families in need. One of the primary forms of assistance is the provision of single mother support facilities. These facilities offer temporary accommodation for single mothers and their children who are experiencing difficulties with housing or financial issues. 

Another support system available to single parent families is the child rearing allowance. This system provides financial aid to households with children in which one parent is living separately due to divorce or other reasons. The allowance is intended to help the family become self-sufficient. 

The City of Yokohama also offers a medical subsidy to single parent families who are enrolled in a health insurance scheme. This subsidy is intended to cover part of the cost of medical treatment in the event of an illness or injury. 

Single parent families can also apply for loans through the widow welfare fund. These loans are intended to help families cover necessary expenses such as school costs. Eligible applicants include single-mother households, single-father households, and mothers who were once single-mother households. 

For more comprehensive support, the City of Yokohama offers Single Parent Support Yokohama. This service provides job hunting advice, daily life and child-rearing consultations, legal consultations, and consultations related to divorce. Additionally, the service offers social events where single parent families can come together for support and encouragement.

Lastly, the City of Yokohama also provides daily life support to single-parent households and widows who are temporarily struggling to perform housework or raise their children due to illness, work or study commitments, or divorce. Under this system, a domestic helper will be sent to help with day-to-day tasks. 

Single Parent Support Yokohama


Childcare Allowance

Apart from the above resources, single mothers can also seek childcare allowance from the Japanese government. This subsidy provides financial support to families with children under the age of 3. Single mothers can apply for this allowance, which is based on income and the number of children in the household. The allowance can be used to cover the cost of daycare, babysitters, or other childcare services.

In conclusion, raising a child solo is undoubtedly a daunting task, and single mothers in Japan often face unique challenges that can make their situation even more challenging. However, despite the difficulties, it’s essential to remember that support and resources are available to help these mothers navigate their journey and provide the best possible life for their children.

Raising a Child Solo: Single Mothers in Japan and the Support Available to Help Them Succeed


Through government programmes, nonprofit organisations, and online communities, single mothers in Japan can find emotional, financial, and practical support to make their lives a little easier. These resources can range from financial assistance and childcare support to counselling and legal aid.

While more can be done to improve the support systems for single mothers in Japan, it’s heartening to see that efforts are being made to address the unique challenges they face. By working together, we can help them create a brighter future for themselves and their children.

Featured banner image credit: nippon.com


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