The number of children on the waiting list for daycare centers nationwide was about 44,118 in fiscal 2013, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Monday.
Although the number decreased for the third year in a row, the shortage of such facilities is still a serious problem, a ministry official said, according to NHK.
Since coming to power in December 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly said that one of his priorities is to increase the number of daycare centers so that mothers can return to the workforce. The government promised a plan to secure 400,000 places for children on the waiting list over five years, starting from last April.
Tokyo has the most number of children on the waiting list at 11,589, followed by Chiba (1,958), Osaka (1,761), Kanagawa (1,703) and Saitama (1,391). Kawasaki had 1,534 followed by Fukuoka (1,046), Hiroshima (951) and Sapporo (824).
The ministry spokesperson said they are urging local governments to increase the number of daycare centers but the reality is "we are not catching up," he said.© Japan Today