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The Labor Ministry plans to raise government allowances for workers who take time off work to care for infants and ailing family members, officials said. The allowances for both child- and nursing-care leave will be raised from the current 25 percent of a worker’s wage to 40 percent, the officials said. The plan is aimed at strengthening the job security of workers who are finding it difficult to fulfill family commitments at a time when Japan’s elderly population is growing, they said. The ministry wants to revise laws during the next ordinary Diet session, which gets under way in January, so the plan can be introduced in fiscal 2000, starting April 1. The child-care allowance is paid to people who take leave to care for infants under 12 months old. An average 70,000 workers, both male and female, receive the allowance every year. The government has allocated about 32 billion yen for it in fiscal 1999. The ministry hopes the allowance increase will give female workers more freedom to have children by easing the fear of losses in income under the current system. The nursing leave allowance was introduced this year. A maximum three-month leave is allowed for workers who need to care for ailing family members.

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