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Japanese mothers struggle to cope after virus shuts schools

77 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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The public schools have closed for 2 weeks but some private schools are closing for 4 weeks.

Without steps to enlarge child care will only cause stress parents and what will the consequences be?

Abe has messed this one up!

18 ( +23 / -5 )

I understand it is sudden but what did the child do in their school holidays?

3 ( +15 / -12 )

This is pretty silly. The kids were due to take a spring break anyway. It's only been extended by ten or so school days and the wheels fall off.

Ironically, the purpose of closing the schools was to prevent kids contracting and spreading the virus. However, I'm sure many mothers, like this one, are taking their kids to their workplace and exposing them to even more people than at school.

I'm also quite sure there are many unscrupulous employers threatening staff with being fired if they take time off to look after their kids, which results in many young kids being left at home alone to fend for themselves.

It was a logical idea for Abe to close schools, but there should have been logistic support put into place and increased job security beforehand. Abe and his cronies have dropped the ball on controlling the virus AGAIN!

13 ( +27 / -14 )

I haven’t seen any mention of working fathers taking time off to share childcare duties. Why is it only working mothers who are singled out? Industry and government are so irresponsible.

18 ( +25 / -7 )

What a mess,to make such a drastic decision to close all schools should have been supported with a solid alternative like free daycares or even support all the workers that will get their finances cut due to this sudden move.

The whole situation was poorly handled from the beginning.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

While I fully understand their dilemma or concern about childcare, bringing them to workplaces is risky of infection... Abrupt nationwide school shutdown is not so effective as the government believes. Updates and available info are suggesting the otherwise.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Disillusioned nailed it.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Q1: How is bring kids to work preventing the spread of the virus. I thought the purpose of closing schools was to keep kids in the protection of their home. BTW good luck finding a seat at any fast food restaurant and/or convenient store.

Q2: Why is it so easy for companies to allow mothers to bring kids to work however never hear of the same for fathers? I know many single fathers and fathers that work but not main income provider.

Q3: What was Mr. Abe thinking?

16 ( +18 / -2 )

I'm not sure about Tokyo, but in other areas like here, school runs until March 23rd, so it is not only 10 days that the kids are being sent home for. Also, even though it is spring vacation, they still go to school for club activities and during the spring vacation there are many events, workshops etc. made especially to take these kids while the parents are working. But now all of these have been cancelled as well, putting more pressure on the parents.

Abe and his bunch of dinosaurs really dropped the ball on this one, and I think, they will pay the price for it in the future.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

Decisions to shut the schools need to be based on medical evidence and facts not political ones with knee jerk reactions.

21 ( +24 / -3 )

Time for Japan to really think about child care in the workplace. With the aging population Japan can't afford to be losing workers who are in their prime.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

I’m a father and will be staying at home to take care of my kids. The whole point of school closures is defeated by parents taking their kids to work or sending them to other types of daycare. This is an unprecedented (potential) health crisis and we’ve been asked to keep our kids home to reduce their risk of being exposed. It might be time to re-evaluate your priorities if your job is more important than your kids or you’re working somewhere that won’t accommodate you at this time.

1 ( +14 / -13 )

I can understand their gripes. But the one lady that says she has the option to work from home is worried her son may watch TV or some other undesirable temptation?

But if I work from home, my son has TV and a lot of undesirable temptations when I'm not watching him,

First, I don't see the problem with her son watching TV or playing some games. Lastly, if you, while working from home, are unable to stop your son from watching TV then it says more about your parenting than the situation.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Unwise mother.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

This is a perfect example of how society works here. People can not adapt without "guidance" or "rules" from above! It is also a perfect example of a "leader" being out of touch with reality and the people as well.

Parents typically will be prepared for the yearly Spring, Summer, and Winter breaks, they plan a head and know what is coming. Now however, this throws a wrench into their routines, and many are having a hard time, (understandably so as well) adapting.

Abe, instead of being a "typical" Japanese and talking with everyone prior to making a decision to close the school's, instead of "urging" (knowing from experience that they have pretty much all failed) wanted to make himself look like he was taking charge, and instead, screwed things up again.

People will find ways to bitch and moan here, but in the end, will follow along and with luck, help to stop the spread of the infection.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

Bububu4, the govt should give your the same treatment as they give to the Minister Shinjiro Koizumi for paternity leave.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The only reason for Abe taking this action is so he can say to the rest of the world, "Look, I'm doing something. Please, please, please don't cancel the Olympics! My friends in corporate Japan would never forgive me!"

17 ( +20 / -3 )

Q1: How is bring kids to work preventing the spread of the virus. I thought the purpose of closing schools was to keep kids in the protection of their home.

No, that is only for schools where there has been a local outbreak.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Great idea!! Close all the schools - where children could be taught infection control procedures, monitored for symptoms, and easily isolated if they got sick - and send the children home for a month - meaning that at least one parent has to either stay home from work or take the kids in with them, and where children will get bored and want to go to the movies or shopping malls - precisely the kind of places they should be avoiding!!

Is Abe in the employ of some drug company that hopes for a more rapid spread of the virus, I wonder?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I admit it is a little strange that everything seems to be falling apart now even though we were quite close to spring break. So what's the deal now?

Of course this has been an ongoing issue as there are just not enough daycares and have babysitters or nannies is absurd in this country. So Abe has done a good job of exacerbating an issue he was already having trouble with.

Maybe now the Japanese will see Abe for the ignoramus that he is and vote him out already.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Back when I was a kid we add 2 months summer vacation and I spent 1 of those with my grandparents, I haven't heard one single person say they would send their kids to their grandparents to look after them. I thought there were more grandpa' than kids here ?

I understand it may not be possible for everybody but is there so many people that doesn't burden their parents with their kids? Because it feels like it's not even something they would consider...

7 ( +9 / -2 )

One thing the PM COULD do is call on employers to show some understanding to the plight of these parents who need to bring their kids to work. But seeing how this is Japan...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When I was a kid in rural Pennsylvania, my parents could drop me off at the grandparent's house any time day or night so this would not be a problem. This crisis shows the limitation of the breakdown of the family without progress in public/private daycare and the risk of such a concentration of people in Tokyo. Also, having kids at home while teleworking, it is easy to unplug the tv and put a password on the iPad and let the kids read or do hands on projects at the kitchen table.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Maybe now the Japanese will see Abe for the ignoramus that he is and vote him out already.

sigh. if only....

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Cool pic... not even wearing a mask.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

“I think the measure was set up because of the assumption that someone, most likely mothers, is at home to take care of the children, and we became easy targets,” she said.

Always. Without an edict that no one can be fired during this (poor) attempt at crisis management the burden on (usually female) parents or grandparents (who may live in another prefecture or country) is unconscionable.

Then again, if the schools had remained open and every child 1. inspected daily for symptoms and fever along with 2. lessons in proper hand washing, 3. what a mask can/cannot, should/should not be expected to do, as well as 4. every other strategy of hygiene etiquette; the easy target would have been teachers. Always next in line to do what's not being done at home.

The Oympic Sho(gani) must go on!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Here is an interesting perspective from the ex head of the U.S. CDC

https://nypost.com/2020/03/02/ex-cdc-head-tom-frieden-says-kids-may-be-secret-coronavirus-carriers/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I understand it is sudden but what did the child do in their school holidays?

Someone with no kids I see. The difference is parents know when school holidays are and can make arrangements. Suddenly closing schools throws any kind of planning out of the window.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

But if I work from home, my son has TV and a lot of undesirable temptations when I'm not watching him,” she said. “Creating an environment where he can concentrate on his study will be a challenge.

he's 7, geez let him be a kid for a few weeks, let him indulge in undesirable temptations for a couple of weeks. poor kid. "Education moms" do not relent. If studying is that important to you lady, order one of those Benesse self study box or something.

" a senior manager at a multinational staffing service provider" that sounds well paying, employ a local High School girl (who are ALL available right now) as babysitter. Sounds like you can afford it.

Few people think outside the box or do things contrary to status quo.

My wife and I are at work, and our lucky teenage children are at home loving every second of it so far. Had this happened 10 years ago. I would have had options for their care. Grandparent, aunt, neighbor, neighbor high School girl babysitter.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

How many new cases are being mentioned every day? Definitely not enough to stop kids going to school.I hope this is an overreach that will get the dropkick Abe out of power by any means necessary.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Schools are notorious for the spread of disease. I can't count how many times diseases, colds, the flu etc. have spread like wildfire through my kid's schools. So it seems a wise move to help head off a pandemic.

The response may not be perfect but I think the government here is doing the best it can under difficult circumstances. They would have been criticized no matter what they did.

Well done to all the parents who are taking care of the kids.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

“But if I work from home, my son has TV and a lot of undesirable temptations when I'm not watching him,” she said. “Creating an environment where he can concentrate on his study will be a challenge.”

God forbid your 7 year old do something other than study. Christ.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

"Japanese Mothers," how about non-Japanese men in general.

This poorly planned and timed decision by Abe is affecting more than them.

I work in child care and have a child myself. I had to worry about both my school closing, as well as my son. My wife works full time as well. Luckily my son's school didn't close, but if he gets a fever or they suddenly decide to close, he's off to work with me. Not my wife.

Oh and by the way, because of Abe's "decision" my work load just doubled because now my students no longer have to go to their regular school, and must come to my place longer...........oh, but the pay definitely stays the same.

Thank Abe. Really good job you and your cabinet are doing. Keep it up!

How are the Olympics working for ya?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The public schools have closed for 2 weeks but some private schools are closing for 4 weeks

What?! Public schools are also closed until April, not just private schools.

Tthese moms should remember this during the next election. Get out and vote, ladies.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Get your child a dog. They will be happy.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

So the majority of mothers who don't work are stuck actually looking after their kids so they now can't meet up with friends for coffee and cake and shopping....Man! hard life! LOL!

1 ( +9 / -8 )

I really would like to know the percentage we are talking about. I understand single mothers but what about both parents working. Japan is still a country where a lot of mothers still stay home to run the household.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

including the others, it's close to 1000 infected, this isn't political as some of you said,

it's out of desperation. political is when you want to get credit for doing the right thing,

this is out of desperation and despair ........

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The Babel of public health professionals actually advised to close schools exactly how they would for an influenza epidemic. Only those schools affected should be closed. At this time they were talking about 2 schools in Hokkaido.

This mass closure was done for the sole reason of making Abe look resolute and decisive.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

God forbid your 7 year old do something other than study. Christ.

It's like a scene from Uncle Buck.

Get your child a dog. They will be happy.

Maybe an Aibo.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

While it affected us as well, I do agree that it was a necessary measure. Our son should have had one week of spring vacation, now it became one month. After a short family council, we decided to send him to his grandparents. As other people point out, media taints this as the end of days for parents, but kids do have quite lengthy summer and spring vacations every year, how do they cope with that? Bring the children to work all August?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Are these all single mothers? If they have a partner they should be helping out too. My wife and I are going to take turns. They should not be bring them to work or other care facilities. The main point to closing the schools is to keep the kids at home to keep them safe. The parents work should allow the parents to take work paid time off to care for their kids. For single parents they should be allowed to stay and take care of their kids to home.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Abe must be cursing the young Hokkaido governor for showing true leadership despite his age making Abe to try and show leadership without any thoughts.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Err, what? Parents or guardians. Not just mothers, parents/guardians with children in Japan. Or is JT suggesting it is only Japanese mothers who are struggling, because they are not capable?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Just the mother's problem then. The fathers need to take equal responsibilty for their kids.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Given the hours many men work and what is expected of them, you cannot expect them to do much here. Since these are extraordinary circumstances though, this was/is a chance for the government to tell/force companies to allow fathers to take time off for family matters. Since the sky will not fall in by doing this, it is actually an opportunity for a small step in changing work culture in Japan. As Naomi Klein writes in the Shock Doctrine, it is common for governments to use crises, often manufactured ones, to force through undesirable policies like harsh welfare cuts. This crisis could be used the other way, to force overdue change from an undesirable status quo.

(slaps forehead for that mother moaning about the possibility of her kid watching TV)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hilarious, look where they ar having their meeting. At an expensive Chinese restaurant going by the lazy Susan table. What about working single parents with no access to extended family support? It must be an absolute nightmare. The pressure to leave your child at home, alone.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Any parent with a kid older than 6 should just let it be. (Other than those with special needs.)

I was a latch key kid from 1st grade on and so were many of my friends.

There doesn't always have to be adult supervision.

Parents need to toughen up and learn to let go like many of our parents did before the 80s.

Let kids be kids for a change and let them figure out how to have fun during this unexpected and what might be an actual vacation. (Passwords on computers/iPads and disconnect the TV every other day if you don't want them vegging at home for 24 hours.)

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

I'm just astounded by the contrast in the expression on each of face. One full of smiles and optimism, the other thinking "WTF are you saying?!?!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Looking at the boys in the background in this picture, there's no reason they can't be off on their own till mom gets home. They're old enough.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Hilarious, look where they ar having their meeting. At an expensive Chinese restaurant going by the lazy Susan table. What about working single parents with no access to extended family support? It must be an absolute nightmare. The pressure to leave your child at home, alone.

No, that'll be Pasona for you, a company that will send you a bookkeeper (paid 2000 yen an hour, no job security, no benefits) for as long as you need one for 4000 yen an hour. It's a lot, but you can fire them whenever you like.

2000 yen for sending someone to work for another company will buy you a big office in Tokyo with an ornate table. From the boxes of toys and mats, that room looks it was already set up as a creche before the school closure announcement on Friday. You would not put mats on the floor for school-age kids. They are there for babies.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Speed, not sure if you are trolling or not, but 6 year olds are not mature enough to be left on their own. Children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time. In many countries/states:

Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yeah like it is not hard enough raising kids here. SMH at this pathetic exucse of leadership.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

At least indirectly, if not actually directly, isn't this also affecting a lot of fathers too?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is the time for grandparents to step in and offer a helping hand. Since the life expectancy is so long in Japan many of these children might even have great grandparents who can definitely help out. I used to enjoy going to stay at my great grandparents and grandparents house during my school holidays when I was a child! Back home it was also safe to stay with neighbors if they also had children and an adult was staying at home with them. Everyone helped each other out! But the neighbor situation probably is a no go in Japan! It’s difficult to find good reliable people who are willing to help each other out in Japan ( especially Tokyo as country side is different ) because of the norm here. We need to look for ways and means to survive this situation as this virus outbreak will definitely deteriorate. There will be more school closures, work closures - without pay for some, layoffs, food and daily amenities shortage. We need to be prepared for the worst case scenario instead of being careless and carefree! Hopefully, the warmer weather next month can help stop the virus from spreading but that’s highly unlikely because Australia which is having summer now is scorching and yet the virus is surviving and spreading there!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I hope there is something positive that Japanese society and work environment can learn from this virus outbreak, like the sick should stay home and not go to (school, work,...) and its better to rest to recover faster and prevent spreading any virus.

also, they learn to adopt to having a working parent, mothers and fathers (single or couple) both have to care for children. And a mother can still work at office or hospital which will provide a daycare, child support, flexible hours, paid holidays and others.

This will help the feeling of security in people and will probably also help in increasing the population.

It will also solve the excuse which the university used when they altered the female students test results to promote less capable "man" on becoming a future doctor which will deal with human lives and cause more economic and health issues, like saying a ship is suitable for quarantine virus outbreak.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

. She said that's an option because her husband has enough income to support the family, but it would be a setback for her career.

I wonder how it could be a set back for her career? Everyone in the country is aware of the situation and any business or corporation that would make this a mark against her, wouldn't be worth working for in the first place!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What a mess,to make such a drastic decision to close all schools should have been supported with a solid alternative like free daycare ...

Daycare would present the same problem as schools. Lots of kids packed together. That's why the schools have closed early.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fail to see what the big deal is, in a Country where you can see 6 and 7 yr olds travel through some of the busiest train stations in the world on their way to school, whats the big deal in letting them entertain themselves for two weeks.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

They look like they're sitting on a roulette table.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I meant "at a" roulette table.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The table in the post photo is the type you would see in Chinese restaurants.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Well, yes, but this is clearly not a Chinese restaurant.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Its not a Chinese restaurant.... read the article..

— her employer agreed to let them temporarily share an executive office with another mother and child.

>

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Well, yes, but this is clearly not a Chinese restaurant.

Yes it's not but those Chinese tables are good work tables, or with students, meetings, with the central rotating part.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In a country where nannies and babysitters are uncommon....

Is it because its difficult to grasp the idea of a babysitter and / or nanny?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Zichi:

Decisions to shut the schools need to be based on medical evidence and facts not political ones with knee jerk reactions.

Until we have a technocracy (rule by experts) or pure bureaucracy (rule by unelected civil servants, without elected politicians), all decisions will be political ones. We can only hope the politicians listen to the experts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Speed:

Agreed. I think the constant overseer approach is what's causing the other symptoms of modern society to surface

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Until we have a technocracy (rule by experts) or pure bureaucracy (rule by unelected civil servants, without elected politicians), all decisions will be political ones. We can only hope the politicians listen to the experts.

In some countries there are positions like Chief Surgeon who advise on medical matters. Governments can also also form panels to look into cases or situations. Or qualified professors at numerous universities and medical colleges. The people are there and available.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

She is quite lucky,In the space of a week I have had pretty much my income cut to 20 percent of the usual.

Kids are social animals and will miss the ineteraction with their mates.If they cant go out how will they cope.And why are some schools open but others closed.Its so slipshod

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Get the kids some rest with any of your acquaintance.

Anyway, they can go to school clubs.

No big deal.

Where are the fathers ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kids seem getting more frustrated about staying home all day long. They want to go to kinda theme park, amusement park, anyway all closed, but they can't go out there because of crowds there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So instead of catching the bug at school, they now get to catch at their parents work place...……….eureka!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“But if I work from home, my son has TV and a lot of undesirable temptations when I'm not watching him,” she said.

Japanese attention to detail is a curse.

Surely you are risking getting sick by commuting to work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@gogo - During School Vacations - the public Gakudos were open.

Now they are not... so this poses a problem. I guess you do not have Kids ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, Japan is not orientated towards a dual Parent working situation. It still relies upon

(1) the Wife expected to look after the Kids, or

(2) the Grandparents Step in

For Foreign Nationals neither the above worked out, it was, and still is, that Japan remains very US 1950's style... Japan is living in the past still !! in 2020!!! ,

Single Mothers clearly have a Sh1t time, and I feel sorry for them - regardless for the reason they're single.

What does it take for change to happen ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who is going to invest in Asia as Asia... (well CHINA) is the source of all these nasty Viruses... please someone stop the CCP conducting their Biological Warfare experiments in order to suit their own needs - it puts what the Iranians are doing into insificance.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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