Raising the child care budget is now one of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s pet projects. But despite the prime minister’s remark at a Lower House Budget Committee meeting Wednesday that he hopes to double spending by increasing the related budget to 4% of gross domestic product, a government spokesman toned down that statement Thursday.

“He did not refer to the ratio of family-related social spending to GDP as the basis for considering a future doubling of family-related social spending,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said at a news conference.

Details of Kishida’s proposal — and how to pay for any increases — have become a hotly debated topic as Japan looks ahead to key local elections in April.