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Let’s discuss the child care blog post that went viral

This week’s featured article

KYODO

A group of mothers and their advocates on Wednesday submitted about 28,000 signatures to the government from people seeking a better child care system, after they were inspired by an anonymous blog post written by a frustrated mother.

The group visited the Diet building and handed over the signatures to Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki.

The blog continues to garner the attention of the public and government. The group conducted the petition online, addressing it to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In the strongly worded blog, the writer, who claims to be a Tokyo-based mother, complained that her child was denied admission to a nursery school. Her post has become a topic in debates in the Diet and has encouraged mothers facing a similar plight to stage a protest in front of the Diet building.

“My child failed to get a slot in a nursery school yesterday,” the author said in her entry, posted in mid-February. The furious mother went on to say, “I will now have to quit my job. Damn you, Japan.”

One of the supporters of the online petition, 31-year-old mother Satomi Nakagawa from Tokyo, said she wants the government to take steps to rectify the chronic shortage of nursery schools.

“If I don’t return to work in April, I will have to quit my job. I was told by the local government that there is nothing more that can be done,” said Nakagawa, who had to extend her maternity leave through March as she failed to secure a slot after applying for nearly 20 nursery schools.

A 35-year-old mother with a 5-month-old baby shares the frustration, saying, “There is a huge perception gap between the government and us over the current situation.”

Abe has said the government is pushing to support child-rearing, but the furor caused by the post suggests that many people remain frustrated by the lack of tangible progress in addressing the issue.

First published in The Japan Times on March 10.

Warm up

One-minute chat about mothers.

Game

Collect words related to children, e.g., toy, park, baby bottle.

New words

1) advocate: a person who speaks/writes in support of a person or cause; e.g., “He is a famous advocate for human rights.”

2) anonymous: from or by a person whose name is unknown; e.g., “He received an anonymous letter.”

3) plight: a difficult, unfortunate situation; e.g., “We should consider the plight of the refugees.”

4) perception: impression, opinion or belief about something; e.g., “Your perception of the problem is different from mine.”

Guess the headline

Japan’s government handed 28,000 signatures after anonymous b_ _ _ inspires m_ _ _ _ _ _

Questions

1) What are the people who signed the petition calling for?

2) Why did the mother get furious and write the blog using such strong language?

3) How has the blog post had an impact on politics at the Diet?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about the content of the blog post itself?

2) Do you think child care services in Japan are getting better or worse?

3) Do you think your blog posts or comments on social media could have an effect on political issues?

Reference

ブログやツイッターなどでどんな人でも自分の意見を不特定多数の人に 向けて発信することができる時代になりました。そして時にその内容が “拡散”され、非常に大きな動きとなることがあります。多くの人から共感を 得られる内容であれば、無名の個人の発言が国会をも動かすことが起こり得るのでしょう。

待機児童の問題や女性の社会進出はもう長年話題になっていますが、女性当人たちの印象としてはまだまだ環境整備が不十分のようです。

大きな動きになったということは、それだけ多くの人が共感したということ です。たくさんの小さな声が政治を作っていける時代はくるのでしょうか。

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