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This week’s featured article

JIJI

A group of parents in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, are taking legal action against the municipal government after a decision to strip nursery access from parents who take postnatal leave to care for a newborn. The plaintiffs, 11 people from eight families, claim in a petition filed with the Saitama District Court on Thursday that the ruling is illegal and want the court to invalidate the dismissal of their children from municipally funded nurseries under the system. Previously, Tokorozawa had allowed children to continue attending nurseries at the discretion of the head of each facility, even if their parents took time off from work to take care of a newborn baby. But in line with the central government’s introduction in April of a new child care support system to help cut nursery waiting lists, the city adopted a new rule, forcing parents of children aged up to 2 to remove them from their nurseries if they take fresh postnatal leave. The Tokorozawa government introduced its new rule based on a decision that parents on child care leave for babies can also take care of their older children at the same time. The city believes the move will create room for other children to use nurseries, thereby reducing waiting lists. In the lawsuit, however, the plaintiffs claim that attending nursery is part of their children’s routines and that changes in their living environment could have serious adverse effects on their personality development. In addition, they argue that the city is misinterpreting the guidelines for the implementation of the new child care support system. Kazuyoshi Hara, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, criticized the city. “It could make parents hesitant to have second and later children and eventually help cause the number of children to decrease further.”

First published in The Japan Times on June 26.

Warm up

One minute chat about your city.

Game

Collect words related to babies; e.g., milk, mother, cry.

New words

1) strip: to remove; e.g., “Strip the paint from the walls.”

2) postnatal: after birth; e.g., “Postnatal care is important.”

3) plaintiff: a person who brings suit in a court; e.g., “The plaintiff won the case.”

4) petition: request to authority; e.g., “We have been petitioning the government for years.”

5) invalidate: to make things unsound; e.g., “They invalidated the contract without notice.”

6) dismissal: discharge from employment or other position.; e.g., “I’m going to challenge my dismissal.”

Guess the headline

Parents sue T_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ over new n_ _ _ _ _ _ rule linked to child care leave.

Questions

1) Who is suing the city?

2) What was the change made by the city that caused this controversy?

3) Why did the city change the rule?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you think your city is good place to raise children?

2) What do you think about the new ruling about nurseries in Tokorozawa?

3) Which side do you think will win in this case?

Reference

待機児童の問題は数年前から深刻化し、画期的な打開策を見つけられないまま時がたっているような印象があります。

働く母親が増える中、子供たちがのびのびと日中の時間を過ごせる場所は不可欠ですが、供給が追い付いていないのが現実のようです。

働こうとするお母さんの子供が保育園の枠を待っている中、仕事を休もうとするお母さんの子供にはその枠を譲ってもらおうという案は、定員キャパシティーの割り振りだけを考慮すれば理に適っているようにも思えます。

しかし、産休に入ろうとする母親は”休暇”をとるわけではありませんし、また保育園で子供同士が築く友人関係などのへの影響を考えればこの改定は乱暴だという訴えももっともでしょう。

このような裁判を起こさなくても子供の居場所が十分に確保される社会の整備が早急に求められています。

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