Parents who were hoping to enroll their children in daycare facilities next month but who have been unsuccessful finding any vacancies gathered at the Diet in Tokyo on Tuesday to urge immediate measures be taken.
One frustrated parent said, “Waitlisted children expecting to enter publicly certified nursery schools are not solely the problem of some people, but rather a societal issue that affects everyone as a whole," Fuji TV reported.
About 100 parents attended the event. At the beginning, a specialist on the country’s strained daycare system gave a lecture and asserted, “As the number of women entering the workplace after childbirth is consistently increasing, we can’t deny that the lack of childcare provisions is an issue that impacts everyone in society."
A woman in her 20s with a 14-month-old child said that she could not get her child into a single daycare center despite applying to 20 nursery schools. She said, “I knew that the daycare shortage was a huge problem last year and was hoping this dilemma would improve, but nothing has changed. I’m beginning to think that being able to work is a luxury."
The number of children on the waiting list for daycare centers nationwide was 23,553 as of April 2016, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Plans to open daycare facilities in some prefectures have been scrapped or delayed amid rising complaints from local residents that the noise from children would spoil the neighborhood tranquility and cause possible traffic safety problems in the area.
When he came to power in December 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that one of his priorities was to increase the number of daycare centers so that mothers can return to the workforce. He said his goal was to reduce the number of children waiting to get into daycare centers to zero within five years.© Japan Today