The ones left behind: The plight of single mothers in Japan is a documentary unlike any other, that delves deep into Japanese society, culture, and history, to give the viewer a very different view of the Japan that we think we know.

Told through the eyes of battle-hardened single mothers and expert professors and business leaders living in Japan, The ones left behind: The plight of single mothers in Japan depicts the hardships that single mothers in Japan face, as well as Japanese society’s hidden poverty that has occurred in-spite of Japan's rapid economic growth in such a short period of time immediately following World War II.

The film unravels the causes of the unequal social background that Japan finds itself in and will appeal to people's hearts and minds of people to rethink the state of Japan, a nation that is not functioning properly, and how social support should be provided by communicating the current situation that the world finds itself in.

Q. What is the cause of the fact that 50% of single-parent families in Japan are in poverty?
Q. Why does Japan have some of the highest levels of child poverty among developed nations?
Q. Why are the Japanese people themselves are unaware of this?
Q. What can we do to make our society a better place for all?

Director Statement

Raising a child alone is hard, no matter where you live. But among developed countries, single parents—and they are usually mothers—may be worst off in Japan. I hope my film can help not only single parents in Japan, but also single parents all over the world, to get the help and support that they so desperately need and deserve.

About the director

Rionne McAvoy is a documentary filmmaker originally hailing from the Gold Coast in Australia. Now residing in Tokyo, Japan, for over 17 years, Rionne is fully bilingual in English and Japanese.

Rionne grew up in South East Queensland, Australia, and at the age of 19 went to Japan for an 8-week karate training trip and fell in love with the country. Putting his IT university studies on hold and returning to Japan 1 year later on a working holiday visa, Rionne spent 18 months living and working in Japan, including spending the last 8 months living with a Japanese host family.

Director’s message to film festivals

Although the film is a Japanese film (subtitled in English - and some interviews are in English), it raises several important social issues in Japanese society that are issues currently being mirrored globally. They messages in the film will resonate with any audience from any country - the biggest being, why are we often not hearing the SOS cries for help from people less fortunate than ourselves? I would like people who watch my film to either lend their hand in times of need, or not be afraid to take someone’s hand when they are in trouble. Homelessness, drug addiction, and suicide, are just some of the issues that you could apply these messages to. Let’s give society great hope once more. I hope it can be a shining light down the path of improving the living conditions for single parents in Japan, and around the world.

Tokyo Weekender review

“Rionne McAvoy’s documentary about single mothers in Japan is powerful”

“McAvoy is a natural raconteur (storyteller). His brilliant storytelling also involves the history of postwar Japan, yet what McAvoy reveals in his film the best is a series of narratorial boxes in which he opens the situations and realities in which many single parents in Japan live in.

Festival Review Magazine review

“Rionne comes at this film from both an outsider/insider’s point of view. As a long-term resident, he understands the Japanese culture and ideology, but he’s also looking at it from the perspective of a foreigner. He sees the beauty of Japan, which is fitting because it makes him the right person to do a documentary about the ugliness of it.”

Indiewrap Magazine review

“The ones left behind: The plight of single mothers in Japan doesn’t just highlight the problems faced by single mothers in Japan. It proposes suggestions that can help single mothers in future to live a normal life and prevent inter-generational poverty.