• Kyodo

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A certified private nursery in Hyogo Prefecture that was found to be secretly accepting more children than its designated capacity had also been docking the pay of teachers who came in late by ¥10,000, according to the prefectural government.

Teachers of Wanzu Mazah Hoikuen in the city of Himeji reportedly also told municipal officials that no overtime allowances were paid.

The municipal government reported the case to the Himeji Labor Standards Inspection Office in February, alleging the nursery violated the Labor Standards Law.

The city also plans to lodge a criminal complaint against Ikuko Obata, the principal of the nursery, on suspicion of fraud, and demand that the nursery return all public funding it received since 2015.

The prefecture plans to question Obata next week and withdraw its certification.

“We need to withdraw the certification. The nursery lacked the awareness that it was taking care of children,” said Toshizo Ido during a news conference on Tuesday.

A special inspection by the prefectural and municipal governments in February found the nursery accepted an extra 22 children in addition to an approved capacity of 46.

Obata reportedly told officials that the nursery had been accepting excessive numbers of children since it was officially certified.

The nursery ensured that the extra children were absent on the day of the special inspection in an attempt to hide the situation and also reported having more teachers than it actually hired, the officials said.

They also said the nursery asked parents to bring in sanitary supplies, such as toilet paper, which they said was inappropriate because the facility was supposed to purchase them using funds provided by the central and local governments.

According to the officials, the nursery handed out leaflets telling parents to bring toilet paper rolls three times a year and asking parents of babies to bring 250 plastic bags. When the city conducted a regular inspection in February, the nursery submitted leaflets without such requests.

At a closed meeting for parents on Tuesday night at the nursery, the participants demanded answers from Obata about suspected cost-cutting, including serving small lunch portions, and how the nursery had used the public funds it obtained.

According to the participants, one of the teachers tearfully apologized for not being able to protect the children from being treated improperly.

She also reportedly said she tried to quit her job, but the principal refused to receive her resignation request.

A 33-year-old mother said she had felt something was wrong because her child was always hungry when she picked them up.

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