Bickering builds over child benefit

Kyodo News

The central government on Friday rejected a demand from a governor to stop making prefectures shoulder some of the cost of financing child care benefits.

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa said the central government should bear all the cost of providing monthly allowances to families based on how many children they have.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Cabinet agreed Friday on how to respond to Matsuzawa’s claim, which he formally filed late last year.

Matsuzawa said the central government, which has been mired in serious fiscal problems and rising debt, “unilaterally” decided to force the prefectures to keep providing funds for the program into the next fiscal year.

A bill now in the Diet would raise the benefits to ¥20,000 a month from the current ¥13,000 for children under 3.

In its response, the Cabinet rejected Matsuzawa’s view, saying the central and prefectural policymakers have held sufficient talks on the matter.

“We are not putting any extra burden on the prefectures,” Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshihiro Katayama said at a news conference.