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2018.05.29

【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.117: Increase in Waiting Children for Facilities Has Become a Big Political Issue

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare released a report on the number of waiting children for facilities for children under five years old as of October 2017. The definition of a waiting child is a child whose parent wants to deposit them in a facility to go out and work but waiting for entry without finding a facility to accept their child. As shown in Table 1, the number of waiting children has increased by 29,352 from 26,081 on April 1, 2017, within half a year. This is because the fiscal year for facilities starts on April 1, and it is difficult for children born after that to enter them in the middle of the fiscal year.

Therefore, the statistics as of April 1 are used as a criterion for judging the shortage of facilities. The government has promoted the construction of those facilities with subsidies because the facility shortage has become a major political issue. Indeed, the number of facilities has increased steadily to 28,783 in 2015, 30,859 in 2016, and 32,793 in 2017.

However, as shown in Figure 1, the number of waiting children continues to increase. This is because the need to deposit children for minding before entering elementary school is increasing, as the employment rate of females aged 20 to 39 years old with a spouse is rising (see Column No.97). Regional differences in the mismatch of facility supply and demand are significant. For example, 12,387 (47%) of 26,081 waiting children as of April 1, 2017, are in the Tokyo metropolitan area (four prefectures: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba).


Table 1: Number of waiting children by age category
117-table1.png

Source: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare


Figure 1: Number of waiting children and facility utilization ratio as of April 1
117-fig1.png

Source: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare



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