The Japanese government is looking to boost women’s opportunities to find employment and help improve the country’s chronically sick economy by expanding the after-school care program for elementary school children. This could potentially allow around 300,000 more children to partake of the scheme, thereby allowing their parents to find viable work.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pointed to the women in the country’s population, marking them as a pillar of his aggressive economic growth strategies. Abe plans to improve the role of women in the Japanese workforce, by supporting them, providing them with support for child-rearing and enough opportunities to land a good job. Initially, the Abe administration has planned to reduce the number of children on daycare wait lists by building child care facilities for over 400,000 children throughout a five-year period until 2017. Improving the after-school care program for elementary school children is the second phase of the child-rearing support scheme, and the government plans to roll out its comprehensive after-school program for children.
According to the Japan’s ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there are 21,482 after-school care facilities across the country as of last count in May 2013. These centers have around 889,000 children registered with them. The continuing problem for Japanese women is that many of them are forced to stop working because they cannot find after-school care centers where give child care services for children who have just entered elementary school. The government will now try to resolve the issue of the shortage in such facilities in a five-year period, looking to use spaces left available in schools and revise operational standards to extend opening hours of facilities in urban areas. The question remains though, if the government will be able to secure funds for the program.