A bill to continue the child allowance in fiscal 2011 is facing obstruction from the opposition parties. If the bill is killed, it will create great confusion for local governments and families. The basic concept behind the allowance that society as a whole should help child-rearing families irrespective of their income levels will also be wrecked. The opposition parties should stop their stonewalling.

Under the bill, the Democratic Party of Japan government will give a monthly allowance of ¥13,000 per child up to third-year middle school students, with ¥7,000 added for a child younger than three. If the bill fails to be enacted, a child allowance introduced by the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito coalition government will be revived due to a legal technicality.

The LDP-Komeito child allowance covers children up to only sixth-graders. Families can receive it if their annual income is less than ¥8.6 million. A monthly allowance of ¥10,000 will be given to a child younger than three and ¥5,000 to an older child. But a third or later child will receive ¥10,000 each.

If the DPJ child allowance bill is killed, child-rearing families will not receive the LDP-Komeito child allowance immediately. Local governments will need some time to change their computer programs. In addition they face the difficult task of finding out families’ annual income levels. The problem does not stop here. This year the government abolished the deduction for dependants younger than 16 on a family’s taxable income to create funds for the child allowance. The killing of the bill means that child-rearing families will receive less allowance and suffer from tax increases.

Given Japan’s financial straits, it is impossible to implement the DPJ’s original pledge to give a monthly child allowance of ¥26,000. But the government and the political parties should work to find stable funds to make the child allowance sustainable. Prime Minister Naoto Kan should loudly explain that the DPJ child allowance is not a money spinning measure for certain interest groups.

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