Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Friday announced a plan to boost capacity at day care centers for children in Tokyo to 17,000 as part of efforts to ease the country’s chronic shortage of such spots at care facilities.
The number of children on waiting lists in the capital was 8,466 as of April 1, the highest of the nation’s main cities and 652 higher compared to the same time last year, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
To address the issue, Koike has drafted a proposal for an additional budget of ¥12.6 billion to provide assistance to operators of child care centers and will ease regulations to make it easier to establish new facilities.
The proposal will be submitted to the Tokyo Assembly during its session scheduled for Sept. 28.
The assistance measures are aimed at helping Tokyoites juggle work with their family life, Koike said during a regular news conference.
“I believe it is an urgent issue.”
The total budget to support child-rearing will total ¥110 billion.
Under the supplementary budget, which Koike called “the first step” to addressing the problem of day care center shortages, 5,000 slots will be added to the previous target of 12,000.
The draft also includes incentives for owners of vacant houses, which total around 82,000 in Tokyo, to allow the establishment of such facilities, Koike said. For instance, those who do so by the end of March will be eligible for financial assistance and reimbursement of some rental expenses.
Koike added that some properties owned by the metropolitan government could also be appropriated to house new facilities.
The governor also said she wanted to revise policies governing employment of nursing care workers to create a betterwork environment, thus ensuring experienced staff remain at care centers while making the profession attractive to young people.
Tokyo will also monitor accredited day care centers to improve the services and assess needs.
Koike said she hoped to start seeing positive results within fiscal 2016 and plans to carry over the fixes and add them to next year’s budget.
Earlier this month, the governor announced the establishment of a day care center within the premises of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Also at the news conference, Koike reiterated her intention to fulfill her pledge to halve her salary.
Currently, a Tokyo governor is entitled to a monthly salary of ¥1.46 million including winter and summer bonuses, which a governor cannot decline under the Public Office Election Law.
Without revision, Koike’s annual income would total ¥28.96 million.
If the ordinance is enacted, her income would total about ¥14.48 million.
In her election campaign to become mayor, Koike vowed cut her salary in order to help save taxpayers’ money.
“This is what I promised (to voters),” she said. “I want to fulfill all of my pledges.”
She said the ordinance governing her earnings would expire when her term ended.
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