National

Japanese government panel makes key proposals for blanket nursery subsidies

JIJI

A government panel made key proposals Thursday for a blanket financial assistance program that would provide free infant care and education for many more families.

The panel proposed up to ¥37,000 in monthly subsidies for households with children between 3 and 5 who receive care at facilities or service providers that haven’t met Japan’s strict standards for such facilities. Eligible families must be certified with their municipalities as needing child care services.

The maximum subsidy should be set at ¥42,000 for low-income households exempted from residential tax that have children up to 2 at such facilities, according to the panel, chaired by former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda.

The government had already decided to make child care effectively free for children up to age 2 who attend nurseries meeting state standards and who are from low-income households.

A similar decision was also made for all families with children between 3 and 5 who attend nurseries meeting state standards and kindergartens. But the government has yet to make a decision on the amount of assistance that will be provided to children who receive care at other types of facilities and service providers.

The panel proposed setting maximum subsidies at levels in line with the average monthly fees at nurseries that meet state standards.

The government plans to reflect the panel’s proposals into its basic economic and fiscal policy guidelines, due out in June, and plans to fully launch the assistance program in October 2019.