• Kyodo

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A welfare ministry panel on Thursday said children will be included on nursery school waiting lists if a shortage of available facilities has prevented their parents from returning to work.

Government officials said decisions on waiting list eligibility were currently at the discretion of local governments. More than 60 percent nationwide have excluded children whose parents are on child care leave.

As of April last year, there were close to 23,000 children waiting to enter nursery schools, not including the additional 7,000 children restricted from waiting lists because their parents were on child care leave.

It is understood the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will soon notify local governments of their recommendation and urge them to expand the waiting lists as early as April if possible.

With the revision, the ministry will also call on local governments to hire expert counselors who can help struggling parents with issues such as updates on nursery facilities with available spots from children.

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