A nursery located in a part of the western metropolis of Osaka — an area known for its diverse ethnic mix — offers a window into what Japan could be if it continues to look for overseas solutions to its demographic challenges.
In the city's Ikuno Ward, where a fifth of the residents are non-Japanese, around half the preschoolers at the Ikunokomorebi Hoikuen are either Vietnamese nationals or have roots in the Southeast Asian country. Most came to Japan with migrant parents and struggle to speak Japanese.
This is why Keiko Tsujimoto, the 72-year-old nursery head, is emphasizing Japanese-language education in her preschool curriculum to get her students ready for primary school. But she fears without government support to accommodate kids like those under her, they might be left behind.