Quality of daycare in Japan deteriorating


“Japan drop dead!” Could the anonymous blogger who compressed into that short sharp phrase her smoldering rage at being unable to place her child in daycare have imagined the galvanizing impact it would have? Suddenly the entire nation, from the government on down, is focused on the chronic shortage of daycare facilities and the consequences for working parents – working mothers in particular; the blogger herself is a single mother who needs daycare backup in order to earn a living.

But this is the mere periphery of Japan’s “childcare crisis,” says Spa! (April 5). Worse than the difficulty of getting children in are worries about the quality of care they receive once they are in, the entire system being badly overstrained by staff shortages, low pay, long hours and, sometimes, the negligence and irresponsibility of inexperienced, careless, frivolous or hyper-stressed staffers.

The worst-case scenario is rare but not unknown – Spa! cites a four-year-old who drowned in a Kyoto daycare wading pool and 9-month-old in an Aichi Prefecture facility who choked to death on a bit of cake.

More frequent are parental suspicions, unproven but persistent, that their children are being abused. At a Tochigi Prefecture center, a nine-month old suffering from fever was left outside on the veranda. Three days later she died. Cause and effect? The parents think so, the center denies it, and official investigation, when it occurs at all in such cases, generally proceeds only following advance notice, which gives the facility time to clear away any incriminating evidence, if any.

In Saitama Prefecture, a five-year-old boy came home from daycare one day looking bruised and battered. The teacher had “shaken” him, he said, and he’d fallen on his head. The teacher denied the shaking and said the boy had fallen while playing. Small children can’t express themselves in the sort of detail that would convince a court of law, and allegations of this sort more often than not peter out unaddressed.

What might be thought of as the lighter side of daycare slackness is its sexual undertone – not child molestation but, most commonly, staffers flirting with parents – single parents mostly, married parents sometimes. “People who work here are all women; I’ve no chance at all to meet guys,” says one young woman who boasts of having played up to, got pregnant by and finally married the divorced father of one of her little charges.

Then there’s this episode which Spa! relates of a facility in Kanagawa Prefecture: A female administrator coming back after hours for something she’d forgotten happened upon two young staffers using the center as a trysting place, lying on the very mattresses the children used for their naps. The administrator reproached them. Not at all fazed, they retorted, “On our salaries we can’t afford a love hotel!”

To that the administrator had no ready answer.

© Japan Today

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No kidding, when there is a shortage of qualified workers crap like this will happen.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There are few regulations and those that exist are not monitored or enforced (sound familiar in Japan?) My wife worked at a local nursery for 6 months and was surprised and the lack of professionalism and neglect of children that were 'not nice'. Some carers were 'rough' with children especially the ones that cried a lot or were annoying.

The same came be said for other carer roles in Japan for elderly people. What is going on? When you live in a society when problems are kept quite it's hard to know but I believe there is a lack of genuine caring pervasive throughout the nation that needs to be addressed.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Since it is large companies that have set the pace in maintaining a poor work-life balance and meagre salaries it seems it is they who are ultimately hollowing out Japan's population. Therefore it should be incumbent upon them to provide top-class daycare facilities for the country and train good staff. I won't hold my breath though. The taxpayer will continue to pay the for the fallout (the externalities) from their business plans.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There is no need to panic when Japan has the robot and drone technology to take care of these kids. In the future this "process" will be automated.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In many places worldwide there are great daycares with great staff. They usually cost more and are private but there is a need. Everyone who thinks it is just that easy to raise a child and not work is not being realistic. Not every mother of 1 or 2 small kids can afford to stay home full time. Some have full time jobs that allow them flexibility or 4 day work weeks or some very good part time jobs where the kid goes to day care only 2-3 days a week.

All that said, in a good situation the child learns to adapt to many things and many daycares offer good learning centers. Sometimes we pick up the news that it was a parent or relative that has abused a child so there is no perfect answer. The vast majority of us here and of people I know spent at least some time in daycare and lived to tell the tale.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Having a "career" so you can buy the latest Louis Vutton bag every month or giving your children loving attention every day and cooking them a proper, healthy homecooked meal?

I guess you don't realize that what you are talking about here refers to a tiny portion of society. Most mothers and fathers are working to keep food on their families tables and to try to give their children a better life.

It is next to impossible to live on one income here without any government subsidies. Child care can take anywhere from 20% to nearly 50% of a parents income. Staying at home is not an option for many working parents, and to suggest that it's all about a career is wrong too. Why is it wrong for a mother to have a career and not the father?

Children need love and attention, from their parents, not from 9 to 5 workers that have no emotional connection with the children.

In a perfect world this is true, but we dont live even close to one.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Burning BushAPR. 02, 2016 - 07:28AM JST How could a woman offload the raising of her own children to strangers?

What's more important?

Having a "career" so you can buy the latest Louis Vutton bag every month or giving your children loving attention every day and cooking them a proper, healthy homecooked meal?

Children need love and attention, from their parents, not from 9 to 5 workers that have no emotional connection with the children.

i cant agree more with that comment. most humans have totally lost what the purpose on life is.... be a parent or be a slave for goods? welcome to the total zombie society... worse then any zoo. they have no idea what kinda pain and suffering they do to their kids.... kids dont understand work, money etc... kids just cant figure out why mama not love me and give me in kindergarden....

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

@Dandy Nong

kids dont understand work, money etc... kids just cant figure out why mama not love me and give me in kindergarden....

I'm sure they would understand even less why they're being starved to death by a "stay-at-home" mother... who could then maybe decide the "end-it-all" by killing her child and trying to do away with herself (as it so often happens here in Japan).

It's only quite recently that single parents get some kind of alimony... (didn't exist in my time...)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

**Having a "career" so you can buy the latest Louis Vutton bag every month or giving your children loving attention every day and cooking them a proper, healthy homecooked meal?

Children need love and attention, from their parents, not from 9 to 5 workers that have no emotional connection with the children.** what a selfish thing to say, firstly unless your lucky houswife that has a husband that earns at least 10million yen a year you going to have problems. Putting the kids through school college is expensive and then youll need to save for retirement, anybody who expects the J pension to support them is kidding themselves, yes you may bring up kids get all of the above only to be left with two parents living in poverty in retirement needing support from there kids in there old age. My wife and I both work we still manage to have home cooked means spend time with the kids, theyll be able to go to college maybe even a private english schools, and well even have enough in retirement so our kids wont have to pay to support us. I doubt many single salary families can do that, and no I dont have fancy cars or designer clothes, my wife has one LV bag I bough many years ago.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I would imagine that everything from poor practices to downright abuse happens at daycare centers. At old peoples' homes too, probably moreso. Such behaviour is of course unacceptable and measures, including criminal charges, need to be imposed.

That said, I'm not sure you can take isolated incidents and claim that quality of childcare across the board is deteriorating. You could just as easily use a number of well-publicized gruesome incidents within individual families to claim "Japanese children increasingly unloved" or some other clickbait headline. The second half of the article accusing daycare staff of seducing parents or having sex in classrooms only increases my suspicion that this is mostly sensationalism written by someone who doesn't actually care about the welfare of children.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

cant you all not see that the current society system is not working and has to change!!! the whole system !!! stop this nonsense, stop shopping for nonsense goods and start thinking what is really important in life!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Daycare centres get subsidized about 50,000 yen per child per month.

Students who are training to work in day care centers, do be licensed day care providers get 50,000 per month as a grant while they are in technical school or junior college.

Day care centers themselves do not get 50,000 per child in subsidies, do the math, it's a ludicrous amount of money. A center with 50 children, by your math, would be getting 2.5 million yen per month, 30,000,000 yen per year. If the government WAS paying out that kind of money there would be more people from the private sector opening daycare facilities as THEN it would be profitable to own one.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

re: "10 million yen" The average male salary and the average female salary are both about the 70% percentile. It means that 70% of people get less. Anyway, if you add the male and female average together, you get under nine million. If you add together the average salaries for full-time men and women in their thirties, i.e., people most likely to need childcare, I reckon it will be 7 million or less That's for a man outearning 70% of men married to a woman outearning 70% of women. To get that outside the big cities, you would need very good jobs.

My wife works full-time but takes home about two million yen a year. I only let her do it because it's a creative job. I've told her to quit when she stops learning new things because the long hours she works and the child stuff I have to do affect my income almost as much as she can bring in. And no, her salary is not that low because she is a dependent. It's low because the job doesn't pay. Lots and lots and lots of jobs in inaka do not pay.

As for childcare centers, yes, they get at least 50,000 per kid per month, even for five year olds. Here, are Itabashi ku's numbers. They are in the second table showing the actual cost (jissai no....). As you can see it is far bigger than the amount the average parents pay.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I am shocked by some of the things Spa reported and I hope these are isolated incidents used to sensationalize the reporting. I certainly haven't heard about similar cases in the area I live in.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

burning bush we need more people like you! now you have to answer the question what makes moms be like type 1 or type2? what went wrong in type 2 childhoods, no love no affection no admiration.... if you havnt gotten that you cant give it and than they treat their children the same way.... and they need those short term thrills (shopping, make, watches, diamonds...)to get a few drops of serotonin to feel a little happy.... to bust their low selfesteem.... who ever drives around in fat cars, wears brand clothes.etc.... thats all a compensation for non inner happiness.... japan and the rest of the world is full with them... happiness doesnt come from money things it comes if someone lives like the type1 stay home, family people.... only people who received love can give love!

wake up people. this system needs to change before its explodes.... its in the end stages now...

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

burning bush: "Two full-time working parents are probably bringing in 10 million a year."

You're using the Abe figures that were DEAD wrong then, and are even more wrong now. It's not even close on average, let alone in the higher percentile.

"That is not a struggling family."

If it were 10 million a year per household, no, but not only is that not true, you are suggesting it's flat-out wrong for mothers to work, so even if you're ridiculous average income were correct, it would then only be 5 million yen for your mothers at home family. So, you can't have mom at home and not be struggling, by your own definition.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

burning bush it is crystal clear that you have absolutely NO idea what you are talking about. You are pulling popular myths out of the air and using them to conclude that ALL daycare users are as you say. It is pretty clear also that you have never so much as set foot inside a Japanese daycare. Let me give you a teeny tiny dose of reality:

1) A woman with 2 young girls whose husband killed himself and didnt have life insurance. She doesn't have family near her and doesnt want to return to her home town to live with her abusive father. This woman lives in a tiny 1 room apartment.

2) A woman whose husband is unemployed due to disability and unable to care for their two daughters as a result. These people live in a slightly better location as he had savings and some family help - but not enough that she can get away with not working.

3) A single mother whose husband left her and her son and won't give her a penny - he's just disappeared. She lives in the most awful government housing Ive ever seen - damp and moldy. Her son constantly has chest infections.

4) A woman who has a wealthy-isn husband- but he refuses to give her so much as a penny. He insists on separating everything and she has to work to support herself. She had one daughter and was pregnant when I left.

5) Another single mother who earns really good money as an accountant. Which is just as well as her husband has just run off with a woman half his age. She is working full time and her two boys were looked after by daycare (one has just graduated and is starting grade 1 this April).

THESE are the real people using daycare - not your selfish BMW driving witches. Although frankly, even if they were, who are you to judge? Would you like to judge me? Go right ahead. Yes - I used daycare for my kids. I have absolutely no family around me - his or mine - to help. I was in a foreign country and it was incredibly stressful at times. My job was the only thing I swear that kept me sane. In addition, staying home with me all the time the kids would never learn the Japanese they needed to enter and thrive in kindergarten - which they eventually did. 5-8 years on, they are happy, settled, well adjusted kids who love life. I have never owned a BMW. I worked hard both in my job and as a mother, and I am more than a little tired of people who have no clue sitting in judgement on other people like they have some kind of moral high ground. Walk a mile in someone elses shoes before being so superior.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I get the feeling that burningbush is just writing those opinions of his to rile people up and get a response, there is no way in hell anyone could be so daft. I fell for it too. Not again on this thread.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So branded goods and expensive cars are bought by young couples with kids who use child care. Not by parasite singles with incomes and no living costs, or rich older people with assets.

Also, putting kids in a youchien or hoikuen which socialise kids in readiness for Japanese school and have structured activities destabilizes them. The kid should just play in the street. Even when all the other five year olds are at hoikuen doing structured activities in groups.

I've heard it all now.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

To add to the voices of skepticism regarding Burning Bush's view of daycare in Japan as a scheme by which materialistic mothers can work and make money in order to buy luxury goods: Given the generally dismal reputation of white-collar office environments in domestic Japanese companies (anybody who has worked in the office of a domestic Japanese company knows what I'm talking about--the dreary atmosphere, the open office layout where everybody can see each other, the boss-subordinate tensions, the sexual and power harassment, and on and on), I really doubt that huge numbers of Japanese mothers are clamoring for daycare in order to work in miserable offices so that they can then use their resulting paltry wages to purchase LV handbags. That scenario is preposterous. The growth in two-income households is the end product of relentless downward pressure on wages for the male bread-winners.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nice token sob stories

Actually you are the one using token stories (of BMW-driving mothers). The vast majority of people using daycare are in fact trying to get by and improve their children's lives. 10 million a year is beyond what most families earn. Even those who do earn 10 million may have unavoidable expenses that eat it away pretty quickly.

I agree with your basic principle that we need less dependence on government, and more on family. But current reality is what it is. If you want to sell others on your ideas, maybe try not accusing struggling parents of being materialistic monsters. Look instead at how current society forces young parents to live away from supportive grandparents, and look at what circumstances force both parents into work at the expense of leaving their children with strangers all day.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As for childcare centers, yes, they get at least 50,000 per kid per month, even for five year olds. Here, are Itabashi ku's numbers. They are in the second table showing the actual cost (jissai no....). As you can see it is far bigger than the amount the average parents pay.

Tokyo-centric, once again, everyone seems to think that the world revolves around Tokyo here in Japan. This problem is throughout the country not just Tokyo. You refer to the state-run facilities correct? Not private.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This comes down to the same underlying problem in Japan which is that this country has no "legal infrastructure" which clarifies and sets clear parameters to any and every form of doing business. Everything is in the "grey" area because it's more advantages to organizations because if clear rules and regulations existed, then there would be more accountability as how things are run. This is where Japanese government fails its people in all levels.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nice token sob stories but they don't account for the fact that fancy cars, brand name bags and estee salons are a multi-billion dollar business in these countries. Someone is buying those products and services, and who is more likely to have the money, a single income family or a dual income family.

Like I previously said, clearly never set foot in a daycare. Pretty far removed from the reality of life post-1972 as well.

Educate yourself. Then lets return to this conversation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Burning Bush, so do you think Japan's economy, as it is presently, allows for one income households?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wow. Many people here taking an article of another article from Spa! - basically a tabloid magazine - as the biblical truth as to what is going on here. Loads of sensationalism and single unsubstantiated citations, etc., take to be a picture of what is going on in Japan. 'We gotta change society now! What is this world coming to?!' Utter nonsense.

Also, it seems many of you don't actually have kids and say things like 'parents should be taking care of kids with all the love, warmth, blah blah blah'. LOL As if parents don't do it already. When you have to put your children in daycares/kindergartens/preschools, then you have every right to comment. Most of what you say is baseless, without experience, and just plain silly. Parents have no choice but to work and put their kids in a proper care facility. Sure there are bad apples out there, but if the whole tree is full of good ones, why must you chop it down? Get a grip.

The childcare professionals from different facilities that I know personally, and from experience because my two boys being enrolled in one at different times, are just that: professional. They in fact, seem to do MORE for their job than any other care professionals that I know of - and yet get paid peanuts.

Honestly folks, if you believe anything that crapola that is spewed by the likes of Spa!, then YOU are the sheeple.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I used to work in an international daycare and yes, it was prestigious and expensive, and like Burning Bush has said, I have seen a few moms running around the the best brands money can buy to go off and have cake sets and shopping sprees with their friends, but the larger majority were the opposite. Needing two incomes to provide the best education for their families. And yes, both types of moms (and many fathers too) were there for every single event we had, no matter how small.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Burning Bush:  But of course in the mind of the yuppie parents it is, because for them, an upscale car, fancy new apartment near the station, gym memberships and brand items are all a necessity. These are the typical dual income parents.

I guess they might be a necessity for you but the double-income parents I know do not spend on upscale cars (they buy family wagons instead), live in the suburbs (at least an hour commute twice a day) and if they can spare the time on weekends and the weather allows it, they go jogging outside because it is free of charge. They save for the education of the kids and for some family holidays, which, mind you are also a way to broaden your kids’ horizons.

Offloading the raising of their kids to strangers and spending their time at useless company drinking parties, the gym and shopping for brand items. Daycare mom: Drops kids off in a BMW or hybrid SUV, scurries back into her car in high heels and sporting the latest Gucci bag. Needs her weekly estee and has a 20,000 yen per month gym membership.

You seem fixated on the shopping for brand items… One wonders why. However, your “day-care” mom is not the typical day care mom. How many such moms do you personally know? One? Two? A hundred?

Offloading kids to strangers is not the solution,

Wow. “Offloading” your kids? You do not recognize the fact that many parents have to work full time to be able to provide not only food but also opportunities for their kids. Education is expensive and if you want to put your children through college you have to … work. Providing opportunities for your kids through education and more experience is not part of parental love then? I went to daycare because both my parents had to work. We had quality time as a family every day after they came back, on weekends and holidays. Kindergarten for me was a place to enjoy playing with other kids, learn new things and learn how to socialize (very important time for kids to learn that everybody comes with a different set of ideas when it comes to sharing, playing together, etc.) I may not be very “rounded” but people around me do not seem to be hurt or offended by what I say or how I treat them. I love my parents for the efforts they made to combine work with family life and for the opportunities they gave me in life.

changing attitudes is the answer.

Good. At least some appreciation of the efforts of hard-working parents will be more than welcome.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

true ever employee in any facility, tries take advantage one way or the other, as they are equally taken for granted this i observed in the USA, India really worse, both parents working is needed for economic betterment indeed, e=what happens to progeny pls in the case of regular parents; but in the case of singles, divorces is the reason; we need to think a way out, just cannot get mother's care to any child, so men also need to think if they look for progeny ans safe children they cannot for any drop of hat cannot force divorces if that happens naturally some balance can be struck; in the name too much economic development don't drive women to employment where sexual harassment also do take place , so strike a via media that means absolutely necessary cases you can have a child care, mush room growth would not take place i think.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The simplest solution is to not have children.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ trouble best comment! in this society no point in having kids... the society will raise them not the parents cos they to busy with work..... no time means no connection to the kids and no bond.... i still havnt seen a functional family where parents really bond with the kids in japan. do you?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When something is big enough to be a societal problem causing protests on this scale, we have two choices:

We can assume that all of the people having the problem (in this case, a very large subset of parents) must be horribly flawed people.

We can say, "Oops, there must be a problem with how society is set up right now."

Logically, one of these options pushes society apart. It engenders distrust in other people on a massive scale. The other option commits to strengthening our bonds.

If a significant proportion of society was morally bankrupt -- even a pretty remote minority -- we wouldn't have a society. It doesn't take many folks to cause chaos.

Considering that the nature of work and the structure of families have changed immeasurably in the last 150 years, doesn't it seem like perhaps the latter is the answer?

(I would also argue that parents who drop their kids off at daycare and then drive off in fancy cars aren't the same parents who are protesting and sharing their stories. Parents who have money to burn can afford to send their kid to a private facility.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have 3 Grandchildren in daycare in Okinawa. They come everyday happy and excited about their activities that day. They have favorite workers, and there seems to be a nice rapport between them and the staff. I have friends who teach English in Yokohama, who seem to be struggling lately. I wish they could pursue a Daycare Business! Surely there are people who love children and want to provide a healthy, happy, safe daycare.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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