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Families, professionals attend symposium to discuss child care in Japan

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Child-care professionals and bereaved parents whose children died while in care met at a symposium in Tokyo this week to discuss safety concerns and preventative measures. The event followed the announcement of government plans to boost the number of carers in Japan.

The event's organizers invited child-care workers to report on incidents and fatalities during care, Fuji TV reported. It also invited bereaved parents to tell their stories and share their experiences in an attempt to draw up a set of preventative measures to help reduce the number of incidents involving children in care.

Among the findings of the roughly 100 members in attendance were the need for a body to handle investigations in the event of an incident and the need for support systems for bereaved families.

The symposium was held in response to a statement in which the government announced tentative plans to increase the number of child-care professionals by 400,000 by fiscal 2017. In a statement to the press, the symposium's sponsors said, "We need to focus not just on the quantity of child-care institutions, but their quality as well."

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How many children have died in child care?

Can we have some perspective with our scaremongering?

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More information would indeed be welcome. We don't know whether it is two or 20 children a year who die in childcare; we don't know if it is because staff are not trained to deal with children with special needs, or food allergies, or poor playground equipment, or simple accidents, or vindictive staff. I have noticed, however, that some day cares are not unlike private universities in Japan in the sense that the head of the school (the president or head teacher) runs the place like a personal fiefdom, and all of the other employees are too cowed to challenge the leader's authority. Certainly not a good recipe when there are some tyrannical day care owners out there!

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