In a video released this week by Japan’s ANN news agency, a group of mothers can be seen protesting outside their local ward office in Tokyo over a serious lack of space for children in public nursery schools. Out of 2,968 applicants this year, 1,833 children rejected due to a lack of openings, and now these mothers, who need to return to work this coming April, are finding themselves with little options.
While there is certainly no shortage of private nursery schools options in Tokyo, these can be ridiculously expensive, sometimes costing around 100,000 yen (approx. $1,075) a month to have two children in daycare. These women are needing to return to work not just out of choice, but in order for their family to make ends meet. One woman who lives in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward and just had a baby in January was highlighted, as she was turned down from five different nurseries because they were already full. Her employer only gave her maternity leave until April, and she fears that if she can’t find daycare, she will have to quit.
As government-run nursery schools know they are in high demand but have little openings, they often rely on strict entry requirements, giving preference to families with the worst financial situations first. These protesting mothers are caught in a catch-22, they need daycare in order to work to make money to survive, but by having an income they are seen as meeting the requirements for their children to be accepted, and, in turn, now face losing their jobs. The woman who is interviewed mentions hearing of couples who get divorced in order to have a better chance of having their children get through the screening process.
It really is a terrible situation, as companies in Japan are often very un-accommodating to female employees after they have children, even forcing them to quit rather than dealing with scheduling adjustments or the needs to reduce the number of hours worked. And, as Japan Probe points out, if mothers are finding that having children leads to such economic hardships, it could lead to more decisions to not have children, something that will contribute to Japan’s declining birthrate.
[via Japan Probe]