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Japan enacts legislation making preschool education free

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"The financial burden of education and child-rearing weighs heavily on young people, becoming a bottleneck for them to give birth and raise children. That is why we are making (education) free," Abe told a parliamentary session on Thursday.

The LDP has just won the upcoming elections with this legislation. Abe passed it, prior to actually having the funding, with the express knowledge that without it, many of his LDP comrades would be facing some difficult elections in their home districts.

THIS should have been enacted decades ago. Yet this should help with many couples who would love to have kids, but worry about the costs associated with child care.

Be interesting to see if there will be a "bump" in the population numbers in the next couple of years.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

They keep touting it as preschool education but what it really is is free daycare

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This sounds great, but I have to admit when I first read the headline, my brain thought Japan had just passed a law to make preschool free of education...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@sensei258

i don’t think it’s free daycare. I think they mean preschool.

Preschools which are Yochien, begin from age 3. That is where the free education starts.

Hoikuen that begin from almost any age is only free for low income families.

But the huge thing is the University bill. That will be a great help for those that qualify.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This sounds great, but I have to admit when I first read the headline, my brain thought Japan had just passed a law to make preschool free of education...

For here, it's one and the same. It's a matter of translation. 保育園 (hoikuen) or "Nursery" is where children here go from, in some cases, a few months old, until they reach the age of "kindergarten".

In effect these "nurseries" are in fact pre-schools as well. Children here do not go from a "nursery" to "pre-school", they stay in the same facilities, which typically separate children by age, into different classes, as they get older. Many if not all also have 卒園式(sotsuenshiki) nursery school graduations, prior to advancement to kindergarten.

Depending upon the prefecture, many local kindergartens are connected directly to the Elementary school, but not is all locations.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Extremely good and popular move by Abe Cabinet. It is one of PM Abes signature policies, and been crafted for a few years. This will enable so many women to reenter the workforce, easing any so called "labor shortage". Furthermore , expect a "baby boom" as a result in next few years! I wonder of those no-hope opposition parties will oppose this policy? lol!

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

When is Japan going to be properly labelled as a socialist nation?

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

When is Japan going to be properly labelled as a socialist nation?

Never!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Nothing wrong with social democracies.

Public healthcare, Education for all, etc... geez wow.. how scary..

"I got mine" attitudes are going are to be the downfall of our species and probably ruin the planet in the meantime.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This actually really helps me, my son is in preschool and his sister will be going soon, the cost of tuition is a major financial burden for families.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Diet also passed a bill to cut the financial burden of higher education on students from low-income families, who are exempted from residence tax payments.

This is good as the help goes to those who really needed ( for once ) , wonder what number of students will actually be qualifying / taking this up, any numbers on that?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can see this being a big help to city dwellers where the main earner (father) has a decent salary. In the countryside though, many families already pay not so much for public hoikuen or yochien because the father has a low salary and/or is partly self-employed (a bit of farming or something). It was free for us for our third child because that is universal for all incomes in our prefecture. For our second child, we paid about 15000 a month. We only paid full whack (25000ish a month) for our eldest about 7-8 years ago, and that was because she went to youchien, which was treated differently at that time to public hoikuens. That had changed by the time our second child went. Had our eldest gone to hoikuen, that too would have been 15000ish. I am talking here about the regular classes (nensho) that start at three. Under threes are handled completely differently. That age group is where the waiting lists are.

So I think it is necessary to understand this law in the light of what help exists already for a fair few families. The biggest change will be for decent earners, not for low earners who already get help.

Rather than subsidizing childcare, I would give parents of young children a high level of child benefit which they could then use to pay for childcare or could keep if they raise the child themselves. People who raise their own kids save society a lot of money.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nothing wrong with social democracies.

I tend to agree, but in Japan's case you can take out the word democracy. With a huge national debt, Japan should tread carefully (it is not right now). I would have thought Japan would use this money to offset that debt.

I'm just saying let's call a spade a spade.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Public healthcare, Education for all, etc... geez wow.. how scary..

yep imagine a democratic country where only rich can get healthcare and education, if you get ill but cant afford the treatment your basically dead or if your smart but cant afford an education your potential will never be realised. Why should the rich have more human rights than the poor , Why should the rich have access to education even when there are smarter people who cant afford it. Putting wealth status before everything else will never realise a countries true potential.

Look at countries like China with their free aducation, theyre producing more scientists and engineers than people born every year in the US, this is why theyll surpass the US both in economic and technological power in the future

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It’s a start, but more needs to be done if Abe wants Japanese people to have more children.

My son is five months old and started hoikuen in April. We pay ¥50,000 per month because he’s under one! This is insane!!!

He’s in hoikuen because even though I’ve been working in Japan full time for 7 years, pay taxes and contribute to social insurance, I’m NOT eligible for childcare leave because when I gave birth, I had less than a year and a half left on my contract. There’s a reason why many women quit their jobs when they have children. If they’re not seishain, many rules prevent them from taking childcare leave because the law is flawed. My husband works for a major Japanese company (think Sony or Honda) and even though he gets really good benefits, his salary is not high enough for me to stay home and care for our son until he turns one... can you believe that?! I’m a teacher and our monthly pay is similar... :o In 10 years or so, he’ll be in his forties and his salary will become more interesting, but we need the money now if we want to buy a house or have more children.

This country is broken... We want to have more children, but certainly not here. We’re planning to move to Canada in a few years...

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@JB, I would recommend to move to Canada now (or even better place...).

A child has no price.

I started having mines just a few years after graduation and my wife took care of them without any allowance.

@Kohakuebisu

People who raise their own kids save society a lot of money.

and so should receive an allowance at a level more close to a salary than a pitance.

Strange that if you take care of another child, you get paid and if you take care of 3 of your children, you don't ! Non-sense.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is really a beautiful news, and It should help many Japanese families.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

People who raise their own kids save society a lot of money.

people arent worried about society they are more worried about their families, if companies or governments wont give decent salaries or conditions then people just won't have children or just have 1. fewer children , means fewer future taxpayer, less government revenue and higher healthcare cost and lower pensions. If governments want people to have more kids theyve got to stop wasting money on crap and support families more , its that simple

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan enacted legislation Friday making preschool education free as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drive to expand child care support and stem the country's falling birthrate.

This isn't gonna change the birthrate for Japan, modern Western economies have had free or heavily discounted preschool for decades hasn't changed anything, Western Governments have offered baby bonuses, paid parental leave for new borns, free or heavily discounted child care and the birthrates are still below replacement levels.

The only places in the world that seem to have surplus births are Africa and the Middle East.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Andrew Crispi: probably It won't change the birthrate, I agree, but at least some families that have already children should struggle a bit less than now. It's a step in the right direction. I can't believe some people can be against free education and speak about "social democracy" like it was insult.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Alex,

"It's a step in the right direction,"I agree,however,about 30-odd years too late.We are reaching the end game in Japan.

In percentages in Japan

aged 70 or over:21%

aged 15 or under:12%

There is no coming back from the demographic time bomb.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My son is five months old and started hoikuen in April. We pay ¥50,000 per month because he’s under one! This is insane!!!

If someone offered me ¥50,000 a month to take responsibility for their baby all day every day, I'd think it was insane too - insanely cheap.

It would cost me more than that to put one of my dogs in doggy day care just twice a week, yet you are upset that you're expected to pay someone to care for your child?

Jonathan Prin makes a good point, though; it makes no sense that you can get paid to look after someone else's child, but nothing for looking after your own. I would like to see all parents of small children receive a strings-free allowance that could be used either to go towards the cost of daycare or to partially compensate for lost earnings.

I would also like to see the free pension for non-working wives of sararimen scrapped and replaced with a pension premium waiver for mothers of children under the age of say, three.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Jonathan

I agree that child benefit for preschoolers should be higher than the 30,000 I stated. I just don't think 50,000 or more would be remotely viable. There would be too much opposition from people who do not realize how much childcare is subsidized.

As for JB, I feel sorry that you cannot take maternity leave. However, 50,000 a month to look after a five-month old child is very cheap by world standards. The actual cost will be over 150,000. At that age, the legal staffing level is 1 to 3 but in practice will be closer to 1 to 2 in a public hoikuen. Free universal childcare would be good, but people would have to pay more taxes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Might help an election if held soon... but it just opened up one of the worst precedent for Japan's social-educational system. Whether hoping that it has the possiblility (an totally unpredictabel and unguaranteed pssiblity) of increasing the work force and hopefully the birthrate, it opened up a chain of events which will not only increase taxes but also public dependency, a form of socialism which ultimately increases the possiblity of fraud and abuse and unprecedented funding problems and monitoring problems as well reducing the quality of the services provided for such care.

Japan too is becoming much too much like EU and America where socialism is getting out of hand.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

You don't just get married for having Kids, but you have the support of each other throughout life, for better of for worse times. Having Kids, no matter what measly support the Government gives you, is still a huge burden and means one member of your partnership needs to take off. The Government probably knows this, and knows that it won't really need to dip into the extra tax it's going to collect from us.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If someone offered me ¥50,000 a month to take responsibility for their baby all day every day, I'd think it was insane too - insanely cheap.

It would cost me more than that to put one of my dogs in doggy day care just twice a week, yet you are upset that you're expected to pay someone to care for your child?

I’m not upset I have to pay for hoikuen, but I think 50,000¥ is too much. Thankfully, we can afford it, but having two young children in daycare under the exact same conditions would be impossible. From what I understand, daycare here gets a little bit cheaper every year, until the child turns three and then it’s pretty inexpensive.

You can’t compare doggy daycare to hoikuen. Obviously it would be a lot more expensive as it’s a private service... What we pay for daycare is based on how much money we make, not the actual cost.. That would be a lot more, obviously.

Yes, I got sticker shock, but then again, I’m Canadian, so I’m used to things like free healthcare and affordable childcare ($140-$360/month). Hence why we want to move there...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What we pay for daycare is based on how much money we make, not the actual cost..

So you want other people to subsidise your childcare costs, while you go out and make loadza money? And if you're not making loadza money (so that day care is cheap), what's the point in leaving your baby with somebody else?

I'd much rather see mothers subsidised to stay at home and care for their babies themselves for at least the first year, instead of farming them out to strangers. Much better for the kiddies.

Whether it's US$ or Ca$, $140 a month seems like a total ripoff. Of the taxpayer.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

They need to make home care for the elderly free too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

AgentXMay 11  08:27 am JST

When is Japan going to be properly labelled as a socialist nation?

what's wrong with being a socialist nation?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

PM Abe getting it done as always. Well done!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This isn't gonna change the birthrate for Japan

Indeed. Even the Nordic countries that have extremely generous benefits are seeing their fertility (birth) rates fall.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/01/21/world/social-issues-world/babies-wanted-nordic-countries-crying-kids-demographics-put-sinking-boat-japan/

The Japanese government moves are to be welcomed but false expectations will only lead to disappointment and criticism later.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So you want other people to subsidise your childcare costs, while you go out and make loadza money? And if you're not making loadza money (so that day care is cheap), what's the point in leaving your baby with somebody else?

I’m not making a loadza money... That’s the point! If I stay home, we just survive. We don’t contribute to the economy, we don’t save money. Yes, we could do that for a year, but if we want more kids, it won’t work in the long run. If I work, we’re able to save a little, eat a balanced diet, have the odd fancy steak dinner from time to time and visit the family in Canada once every two years. The whole point of this article is that the government is trying to help families have more disposable income so they can hopefully have more kids and spend more. Hence why I said it’s a start in my initial comment.

Obviously, I would rather be on childcare leave and stay home with my kid, but since it’s not possible, then yes, I want other people to subsidize my kid’s daycare. In return, I’ll keep subsidizing other people’s healthcare bills by paying 3 man per month even though I rarely go to the doctor. That’s just the way society works. We all need each other. Not sure what is hard to understand about that. When you’re old someday, my kid will be paying for your hip replacement surgery.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Its worth mentioning that raising the birth rate isn’t the main objective of this policy, raising the female workforce participation rate is. The government is prioritizing increasing elderly, foreign and female worker numbers to offset the labor shortage. That is why they are subsidizing pre school rather than stay at home moms. It probably won’t affect the birthrate much, but probably will increase the number of working moms.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is what is possible when a nation doesn't spend so much of its GDP on warmongering as the US! Hope US voters are taking note.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

By the way, to get birht rate as it should, sex should be glorified and women actualy prefering career with no kids "despised", hence not happening out of Africa/Middle East. You can't beat nature all the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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