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The number of children in Tokyo who were still waiting to enter nursery schools as of April has decreased from the year before for the first time in three years, NHK reported Tuesday, citing Tokyo Metropolitan Government data.

The figure stood at 7,814 in April, or 858 fewer than a year ago, NHK said.

With its large urban population and expensive land prices, managing nursery schools in the capital requires a sizable investment. These factors have been reflected on Tokyo’s long waiting list in recent years.

Last year, Tokyo ranked as the worst among the country’s 47 prefectures.

NHK quoted a metropolitan government official as saying that the latest data are the result of Tokyo’s efforts to increase nursery services for over 12,000 children.

By wards, Ota Ward saw the largest improvement, by cutting 459 from the previous year. Nerima Ward came next with 311, followed by Koto Ward’s 148, NHK reported.

A metro official in charge of child welfare was quoted as saying Tokyo needs to make more efforts to accommodate those children still waiting despite the latest improvement.

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