National / Social Issues

Viral anonymous blogger rails against Abe failure to alleviate chronic day care shortage

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

An anonymous blog post penned by an irate mother complaining that she has to quit her job after her child was denied admission to a day care center has gone viral on the Internet, shedding light on what she called the hypocrisy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to promote the “dynamic engagement” of all citizens.

“My child didn’t get a slot in day care yesterday. Great,” the author fumed in a Monday entry on an anonymous blog platform called Hatena Tokumei Diary.

“I gave birth, have raised the kid and worked my ass off to pay taxes. And Japan, are you still not satisfied?” she goes on to say.

The shortage of day care facilities remains a serious hurdle for mothers returning to the workforce, especially in overcrowded areas such as Tokyo.

The number of children on waiting lists stood at 23,167 nationwide as of April 2015, inching up by 1,796 from a year earlier, according to welfare ministry data.

The author, who couldn’t immediately be contacted due to the anonymous nature of the platform, went on to claim that she now needs to quit her job to care for her child.

Her tirade struck a chord with many skeptics of the Abe administration’s drive to create a society in which “all 100 million people can play an active role,” garnering 30,000 Facebook likes as of Wednesday afternoon.

With her child unable to enter day care, she lamented: “Now look what happened. I can’t play an active role.

“So you can’t increase the number of day care centers or pay us more than a measly sum in child-rearing allowances. But you still want to tackle the declining birthrate?

“Oh, give me a break. Damn you, Japan.”

In response to the post, Hiroki Komazaki, founder of the nonprofit group Florence, which dispatches nurses to homes to look after sick children, said on his own blog Wednesday that Japan invests too little in improving the working environment of nursery teachers, who must grapple with below-par monthly wages.

This has translated into a chronic shortage of qualified nursery teachers, preventing new facilities from being opened, he said.

Shun Otokita, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, responded on his own blog by arguing that a fundamental solution to the problem is for Japan to take a page from France by more actively utilizing baby sitters, who are often shunned in Japan as untrustworthy.

He wrapped up his post by saying, “Above all, though, the underlying problem is that Japan’s investment in child-rearing assistance is unforgivably low for a developed country.”