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Gov't panel OKs expanded eligibility of women with children to use daycare centers

29 Comments

A government panel set up by the labor ministry on Wednesday gave approval to expanding the eligibility of women with children to use daycare centers from fiscal 2015 as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy to make it easier for working women.

The panel recommended setting the minimum number of work hours for mothers eligible to use daycare centers to between 48 hours and 64 hours per month, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Currently, use of daycare centers is limited to full-time working women and other women with special circumstances, such as those who are taking care of sick relatives or who have a disability.

According to the panel, under the new rules, all working women, including part-timers, as well as job seekers, mothers attending universities, and single mothers will be able to register their children for daycare centers, Sankei reported.

Abe has vowed to take steps, including expanding daycare, to help mobilize women power as part of his "Abenomics" plan to end economic stagnation and engineer growth in a country beset by an aging, shrinking population.

Abe has pledged to eliminate in five years daycare wait-lists - which official data put at 25,000 nationwide and private experts much higher. The plan is to provide fiscal support for non-government facilities and ease regulations to give private operators more scope.

Last May, Yokohama announced it had eliminated its daycare wait-list - four years ago the worst in the country - through deregulation and bigger spending.

Abe has touted Yokohama as a model case others should follow, but the national government and other municipalities may be reluctant to follow through with similar spending rises.

© Japan Today/Reuters

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29 Comments
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You can't assume that they are putting their children in for 40 hours a week in order to work 48 hours a month.

yes many of them do.. at least the at the daycare my kids go to. they come pick up their kids right before 6pm (that's when they have to pick up their kids without being charged for extra fee).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Working only 48 hours a MONTH and putting your kid in daycare... I mean.. really??????????????????

How are they going to work those 48 hours if they don't have childcare for that time? I assume that part-time workers will be eligible for part-time daycare. You can't assume that they are putting their children in for 40 hours a week in order to work 48 hours a month.

I work about the same number of hours, and put my son in private daycare for that time, but my job is relatively well paid, so I can afford it. For people earning less paying for private daycare may make it economically not viable to work, hence the need for subsidised public daycare so women can contribute to their family's income without having to work full time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

smithinjapan - problem is no one wants to do that job.

The starting salary for FT is something like 170000, no bonus, there are only public holidays (so no obon, basic time only over new years), and long hours, lots of overtime. monster parents complaining all day long.

Many people have the qualification but switch to yochien teaching pretty soon after. Hoikuen teaching is thankless, low paid and terrible. Yochien have high pay, lots of time off. Long holidays. I know what I would choose.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

pointofview -

less than 20000 for two kids a month

are you talking about what single parents pay for daycare? daycare fees depend on the parents income. for people who make a lot of money, sometimes those private daycares can be cheaper and can also be more convenient as they do not need to submit all those paperwork each year to prove their income/employment and etc, private daycares tend to open earlier and close later, too..

the government daycares are more "affordable" if you do not make a lot of money and definitely good for single parents as they pay about 5000yen per month or less depending on the cities (and the kids get lunch and snack).

when they talk about daycare facilities, they also have to look at the situations for the caregivers/teachers - it is a lot of work to take care of children all day long and the caregivers do not make good money.. government can try and increase the number of daycare facilities but need to take care of the workers as well.

private daycares often do not require caregivers to be certified - while government daycare do, and they always have at least 1 caregiver who is also a certifued nurse and nutritionist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The real issue isnt the number of daycares its the affordability of them. City run schools are inexpensive, less than 20000 for two kids a month and they have proper facilities. Private ones set you back about 40000 a child plus 5000 for school lunch ( City will pay 50% if both parents are working but you wait 6 months to get reimbursed). That`s why there are waiting lists of over a year for city schools. They are much cheaper. No rules based on your situation either with private daycare. Just show the money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How about this? make MORE daycare centers, preferably attached to the companies with staff hired by the companies, and depend less on these private day-care centers which often don't have certification and where we read about kids dying. This is a good step forward, but still just a baby-step, so to speak. Getting rid of those ridiculous waiting lists is definitely a must.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Any expansion of child care give women more opportunities. It seems a reasonable expenditure to me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tmarie - I understand what you're saying... it's really not fair if people who make little money are more "qualified" than the ones who work full-time and make more money..

i understand people with little income NEED to work, but those people should be working much more than 48 hours... Working only 48 hours a MONTH and putting your kid in daycare... I mean.. really??????????????????

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So, the only reason they are doing this is to power Abenomics. It has nothing to do with equality or helping parents. He just wants more women in the workforce being paid lower salaries than men for the same job do he and his corporate cronies can continue to stuff their coffers. Abe really is a scum bag!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The problem with public daycares is once you are in, you are in until school starts. It is impossible to chuck someone out of public daycare, so what some people do is either ...

Go on maternity leave and then after the baby is born, admit it to hoikuen (getting a company guarantee hanko), return to their company, and then quit or go part time after a 6 months or so (they get back a chunk of their childcare leave money after 6 months.)

Get a family friend or family members company to give them a "guarantee, saying they work full time for the company. Whether they do work full time (or at all) for the company is never checked.

I say that working women do need hoikuen spaces over those who dont work. Full time deserve it over part time. BUT a comprehensive review of the nursery system, and powers to remove students who no longer need to be there (because their mother is at home looking after a younger sibling, or no longer working) is necessary.

Peoples circumstances can change a lot in 6 years - They need to take this into account in order to give places to the people who need them.

And also I hate this statistic thrown around about Yokohama - they have NOT got every child in Yokohama into a decent childcare facility. They just have upgraded some previously "private" hoikuens to public. They have just fiddled with the numbers and its not a good thing, IMO - the kids in the "new" facilities are NOT receiving the same level of care as the kids in public hoikuens.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thon, I don't think that will happen. The women will work longer but they won't be paid for it because they want to stay under the cap that allows them to piggyback on their husband's pension and health care. Win/win for Abenomics. More women working PT so they get more workers, more women working means more money for the FAMILY to spend money on goods which means, as you pointed out, prices can rise. Just like now, most women won't be paid a decent wage so they won't be paying taxes for things like pension and health care. If they scrapped the health care/pension I would 100% agree with you but the women - and the companies - in this country will NOT give up that little perk of being married.

Timeon, exactly. It doesn't help those who actually need help.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Me and my Japanese wife both work full time and the parents of both are far away and can't help us. Despite of scoring quite well on the points system, there is still a long waiting list at all the government daycare centres we asked (Tokyo). We gave up looking for a public daycare, especially since with two incomes the fees are almost the same with the private ones. However, the private daycare centers were also full, and it took us some time until we found one to accept our son. From my experience, at least in Tokyo lowering the requirements for daycare eligibility will not make any difference.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fishy, there is an issue with some women claiming to work FT and have their parents, who own a company or run a shop, vouch for them. I know many FT working mothers who complain that many PT or stay at home mothers use daycare as a babysitter for them to relax when FT parents NEED daycare. The point system in my area is a mess and this kind of thing happens because of the way "needs" are assessed. High school dropouts with poor paying jobs are at the top of the list while educated women with a salaryman husband are told, in my area at least, that they don't "need" to work. Two PT working "fleetas" will be given cheap daycare while the professional family is given none as the poorer family is deemed more in need because the wife doesn't "need" a job. If they do get a daycare position, they will pay twice as much. If anything, this will make that kind of thing happen a lot more. In the end, professional women won't be supported more out of this and Abe gets his little army of poorly paid women so he can claim he's helping get women back into the workforce.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

More female to work => more income => more taxes for government & boost GDP

Slamdunk sees what's going on. This is one part gender equality and nine parts "get women away from the families and out working for corporations so that households can pay higher prices for everything".

Only needing to work 48 hours per month to put your kid in day care means that even part-timers will be eligible. Now watch these mothers, as taxes and consumer prices continue to rise, start working an extra hour or two each day while the kid is in day care, to better make ends meet. Then prices rise a few percentage points more. Mom works a little longer. Prices go up again but the family can manage thanks to Mom's extra income. Keep the cycle going for a decade or so and before you know it parents are working twice as hard, spending much less time with their children, and their standard of living hasn't risen a bit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

good idea, but this is useless unless there are more daycare centers to accept these kids. abe seems to like populist ideas but there usually is no plan to make it work.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

sveinnyves -

ther ARE private daycare centers - but the standard of the private daycare centers can be a lot lower, and more than anything, because the daycare fees depend on the parents income - private ones have a set price for everyone whether they are single parents or not, whether they make lots of money or not.

full time working parents should have the priority to send their kids to government "ninka" daycares..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Currently, use of daycare centers is limited to full-time working women and other women with special circumstances

??? there are part-time workers who have their kids in daycare centers..

Yes, odd that the article says that. It's true that public daycares in the big cities are usually filled with the children of full-time working mothers, who have priority, but there are plenty of private daycares where kids can go for even a couple of hours a day, so the article isn't really worded accurately.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Currently, use of daycare centers is limited to full-time working women and other women with special circumstances

??? there are part-time workers who have their kids in daycare centers..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

why are the day care centers not privatized? does it really need to be under the armpit of the government?.. There is a lot of demand for daycare center because women in japan works now, it will also provide job when more day care center is opened. It is a good business too so there shouldnt be a short in the centers. Of course the qualifications of the care givers should be monitored and certificate of qualification be given to proper day cares. Its actually simple, dont complicate things

1 ( +1 / -0 )

at the daycare my kids go to, there are moms who bring their kids to daycare around 10am.. start working after lunch and pick up the kids around 4pm while there are full time working moms who bring kids at 7am and pick up the kids at 6pm or 7pm.. there are also parents who work full-time but are on a waiting list so they bring their kids to those "muninka hoikuen", I don't see how it's fair..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

48 a month? Where are on earth are these daycares that Abe plans to use for this? My area has a massive wait list and I certainly hope a woman working 48 hours a months doesn't get a place before someone who actually does need a spot because of their career.

Don't know about other areas but mine works on a point system and the system is seriously messed up. There is a good chance that someone working 48 hours a month would get placed ahead of a proper FT working mother based on the salary of the husband. I support more day care and services for working mothers but how about Abe building the damn things first?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

There is a big business opportunity in Japan right now for daycare centres but I imagine the rules and regulations will put off anyone new to the business and will continue to favour established businesses.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@timeon At first I was shocked by the ridiculous requirement of 48 hours, and then I realize it's per month, not per week.

48 hours per month is 12 hours per week which is not full time, even in France. France has a 35-hour work week.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

48 hours is a full time job

in France :)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

48 hours is a full time job

48 hours a month is roughly 2.5 hours a day, five days a week or 4 hours a day three days a week.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

How about men? They just assume that men aren`t responsible for their children.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I don't see what has been done. 48 hours is a full time job and many jobs that are part time require people to work off hours. If Japan wants to encourage women back into the work force it needs to begin to reform it's labor laws so that definite 'work day' can be defined.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Dont underestimate women workforce.

It will stimulate the economy for sure.

More female to work => more income => more taxes for government & boost GDP.

Oh yahhh

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Our local daycare requires both mother and father to be working.

But without more daycare centers I don't think the new rule will be a cure for anything. Pretty much all daycare centers are full as it is.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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