• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday expressed his willingness to set up a new agency to spearhead policies on children, in response to a proposal by ruling party lawmakers last week aiming to woo voters ahead of a general election.

The Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers have called for creation of an agency to coordinate policies relating to child medical and educational services and those handled by police, as part of the country’s efforts to address its persistently low birthrate.

“We need to eliminate the sectionalism of policies and consider how an organization should be,” said Suga at a meeting of the House of Councilors’ Audit Committee.

“From the broad standpoint of ensuring Japan’s future, I want my party to study the establishment of such an agency,” said Suga. The prime minister has already instructed the LDP to consider a blueprint for the agency overseen by a special organization under him that will be headed by Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai.

Issues that could fall under the agency’s realm include child poverty, abuse and suicides as well as realignment of administrative jurisdiction of nursery schools and kindergartens.

The LDP is planning to make the “children’s agency” a pillar of its election pledges, with a general election expected to be held sometime before Suga’s term as the LDP leader — and hence prime minister — runs out at the end of September, and the terms of House of Representatives members expire on Oct. 21.

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