National

Tokyo local governments split on shutting nurseries in virus emergency

Jiji

Municipalities in Tokyo are divided over whether to close the nurseries they operate after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency Tuesday over the virus crisis.

Shibuya Ward in the capital has decided to shut nurseries as early as this week, except for special services for children whose parents work in specific job categories, including police and medical staff.

“We are aware that some people will be in trouble, but we made the decision to protect children from infection,” a Shibuya government official said.

The decision dismayed some working parents, including Shinsuke Adachi, a single father with a three-year-old daughter and a son who is not yet a year old.

“I’m worried whether I can do my remote work while taking care of my children at home,” the 51-year-old company worker said.

Another company worker in her 30s with two children was slated to return to work from child care leave in late April. “Would it be possible to extend the leave?” she said. “What’s going to happen to my job?”

“I can do nothing about it,” said a company worker in her 40s whose daughter attends a nursery. She expressed understanding of the closure, saying, “We have to accept it, considering the lives of children.”

Meanwhile, Ota Ward has decided to keep its nurseries open in principle while asking parents to try to avoid taking their children to the facilities as much as possible. The ward runs over 200 nurseries capable of accommodating 15,000 children in total.

“We can’t make an easy decision to shut facilities as (there are) people in need of places to take their kids,” an official said.

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