Prime Minister's wife praises
single parents in Britain
A story published today by The Times (London) reports that the Prime minister's wife
Cherie Blair paid tribute to single parents yesterday and recalled her own
childhood growing up in a one-parent family.
She spoke to an audience at London's Savoy Hotel where she presented the One Parent Family
Awards to women who have managed to combine bringing up children with a successful career.
"It's true that I am a working parent and therefore care passionately about the
work-life balance. I am particularly pleased to be here today because I am myself the
child of a one-parent family and therefore can particularly identify with the difficulties
and joys that that can bring."
Mrs. Blair presented one award to Kate Fawkes, a single mother of two who brought the hit
children's television show Bob The Builder to our screens, as managing director and
executive producer of HIP Entertainment.
Another award went to Katharine Dore, who directed the acclaimed all-male version of Swan
Lake. She also created the Treehouse Foundation, a school for autistic children. The
ceremony was organized by the National Council for One Parent Families.
Sunday, September 9, 2001
"Parasite singles": a new
breed of Japanese singles
A story published today by the London Sunday Times report that Japan's estimated 10
million "parasite singles" are a growing band of young people in their twenties
and thirties who still live with their parents. They pay no rent or bills and all their
meals are provided free, allowing them to spend almost all their entire pay on designer
clothes and gears.
In a country struggling with a severe downturn and the highest unemployment since
records began in 1953, a boom fueled by the large disposable incomes of women in sales of
foreign luxury brands has confounded retailers and economists alike. Although the Nikkei
index has fallen to a 17-year low, top fashion houses are building flagship stores to meet
"The effects of the bursting bubble economy have been minimal for us. We have seen
sales grow annually by more than 10%," said Louis Vuitton, which sells more than
££500 million of goods a year in Japan - almost 100 times more than 20 years ago. While
upmarket retailers are enjoying unprecedented levels of growth, traditional stores have
issued profit warnings and plan to cut staff.
Hidehiko Sekizawa, executive director of the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living, in
Tokyo, said there was no doubt that the "parasite singles" were the driving
force behind luxury goods sales - even though their average income is a modest ££18,500
a year. "Such a high percentage of the monthly income of these women is disposable
that ££400 or ££500 for a handbag is not expensive," Sekizawa said.
"Japanese women have an intense commitment to luxury labels, especially European
ones. Even schoolgirls will have a Gucci belt or a Vuitton purse."
Government figures show that nearly half of all Japanese women are still single at the
age of 29 and growing numbers are postponing marriage until 35 or beyond. Nine out of 10
single women still live with their parents. Noriko Suzuki, 33, a self-confessed
"parasite single", said she did not aspire to marriage or a family.
Michiko Miyamoto, a professor of sociology at Chiba University, attributed the
phenomenon to the unwillingness of many young people to take responsibility for their
"Japanese women in their twenties and thirties are childish and dependent. They
are not willing to become proper adults," she said. "Parents are partly to
blame. They want to keep their daughters with them for as long as possible in the hope
that they will look after them when they are older."
Local Canadian community pitches in
to help single mom
A story published today by the Toronto Sun reports that Naomi Spooner was down on her
luck after thieves stole her purse, but she's thanking her lucky stars for Sun
readers' generosity yesterday.
The plight of the seven-month pregnant mother of one, whose purse was scooped late Tuesday
after shopping at Scarborough Town Centre, tugged at the heartstrings of many readers, who
called The Sun offering help.
"It strikes me as so funny that people care. I didn't think any of this would
happen," said the grateful Spooner, who has been living in a Scarborough shelter for
abused women after separating from her husband three months ago. "I didn't expect or
anticipate any of this."
Jerry Novitsky, 57, a single-parent
himself hopes to raise funds for Spooner through a dance this weekend at the Brampton
Over-40 Solo association.
"Especially with a kid coming, she'll be a little worse off and will need a lot of