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A government survey showed Monday that 5.7% of children in the second year of junior high school provide care to family members who have a chronic illness or other problems.

The survey on the topic of so-called young carers by the welfare and education ministries also found that more than 10% of such children spend seven hours or more per weekday taking care of family members.

The survey results were reported to the ministries’ joint project team the same day. This was the first government survey on young carers.

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced in March a decision to provide support to young carers, as care-giving is a major burden for children. The project team will draw up detailed measures by May for inclusion in the government’s basic economic and fiscal policy guidelines.

The survey, conducted online between December last year and February, covered second-year students at public junior high schools, second-year students at full-day high schools and distance-learning high school students. Responses were received from 5,558 junior high school students and 7,407 full-day high school students.

A total of 319 junior high school students said that they have family members to whom they provide care. Of the respondents, 45.1% said they give such care almost every day, while 17.9% and 14.4% said they give care three to five days a week and one or two days a week, respectively.

The average number of hours spent giving care per weekday stood at 4 hours, with 42.0% of the children, the largest group, saying that they spend less than three hours. Meanwhile, 11.6% said they spend seven hours or more on care-giving.

Among second-year students at full-day high schools, 307 respondents, or 4.1%, said they take care of family members, 47.6% of whom give care almost every day.

The average time spent on care-giving per weekday stood at 3.8 hours. The proportion of high school-age caregivers spending seven hours or more came to 10.7%.

Siblings are the most common recipients of care, with this answer cited by 61.8% of junior high school children and 44.3% by high school children, followed by parents and grandparents.

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