• Jiji

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A government panel of experts on Monday requested the enactment of a basic law to protect children’s rights and the securing of necessary personnel and financial resources to implement policy measures for children.

The requests were included in a report that was submitted to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida by members of the panel at the Prime Minister’s Office the same day.

Based on the report, the government will compile its basic policies toward the establishment in fiscal 2023 of a children’s agency, which will serve as the “control tower” overseeing policies related to children.

The government plans to submit legislation to launch the agency to next year’s ordinary session of parliament to be convened in January.

In the report, the panel underlined a need to prevent the rights of children from being violated due to abuse or bullying, based on the principles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Apparently with the envisaged agency in mind, the panel said there should be a body that is given the authority to oversee and evaluate policies related to children and make recommendations to relevant ministries and agencies.

Specifically, the panel proposed the early introduction of a Japanese version of Britain’s Disclosure and Barring Service, designed to prevent people from taking jobs that involve contact with children unless they present a certificate showing that they have no history of sexual crimes against children.

The panel also called on the government to consider adopting a review system aimed at investigating the causes of children’s deaths.

Also in the report, the panel said that children in need of help, including so-called young carers, or children looking after their families, often do not speak up to seek support, underlining a need to provide assistance to such children proactively without waiting for requests for help.

The panel pointed out that vertically segmented administrative systems have harmful effects on the implementation of policies related to children and that so-called age barriers often disrupt the provision of seamless support to children.

According to a government survey, one in seven children live in relative poverty, with Japan’s relative poverty rate among single-parent families hitting the highest level among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

It has been pointed out that Japan’s fiscal spending on policies related to children is low.

Against this background, the panel said, “What can be achieved under the current system and budget should be realized as soon as possible.”

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