The opening of nursery schools scheduled for April, the start of the new business year, will be postponed in a number of municipalities due to construction delays caused by labor shortages and surges in material costs, local governments say.
The delays in Tokyo and Chiba, Osaka, Shiga and Fukuoka prefectures could affect parents planning to return to work after taking child care leave.
The labor shortage in the construction industry is primarily a result of quake reconstruction work in the Tohoku region and new construction projects prior to the consumption tax hike on April 1, according to local government officials.
As stop-gap measures, some local governments are seeking to have nursery and preschool operators accept kids at temporary facilities or existing schools until new buildings are completed.
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, the opening of five nursery schools with a combined capacity of 602 well be delayed by a few months. Two of the five will accept children at temporary facilities, but the other three will have no choice but to delay the start of operations, the municipal government said.
To cope with the growing number of children waiting to enroll in nursery schools, the central government worked out a plan last April to prepare day care facilities with a combined capacity of 400,000 by the end of fiscal 2017. The plan will be affected by the construction delays.