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RAISE YOUR CHILD HERE!
Localities Add Services to Attract Young Couples Starting Families
July 10, 2000
Fewer Births Pose Population Problem
In response, many localities have begun working to curb this drop in the child population by strengthening support services for people bearing and raising children. The extent to which such services have improved has varied, however, according to the needs and finances of each area. Such disparities have made young couples increasingly choosy about where they settle to start their families.
New Child-Care Initiatives
The head of the Shinagawa district of Tokyo has stated that he wants those starting families to look upon Shinagawa as the ideal place to settle. Shinagawa is being seen by neighboring districts as a pioneer in child-care services due to such initiatives as extending hours for public nursery schools until 10 p.m.
Musashino City in Tokyo has opened Japan's first facility dedicated to providing child-raising support. The center includes a play hall, a yard with a log house and sandbox, a library corner, and a tatami-mat room where mothers can nurse their infants or feed them baby food. There is also a common lounge area adjoined to the play hall where mothers can chat while watching their children at play. Many fathers show up on Saturdays, contributing to lively interaction among parents. The center was originally intended for city residents only, but news of the facility spread through word of mouth, resulting in an increase of visitors from outside the district as well. Neighboring localities observing the success of the center have begun building similar facilities of their own.
In 1995, the city of Chiba opened a wall-less "open" elementary school, which was one of the first to introduce the concept of team teaching, where multiple instructors provide simultaneous guidance to the students. Many families relocated nearby so that their children could attend the school after hearing of its excellent reputation. Other localities are also working to attract child-raising households by installing computer terminals that provide useful public information on child raising in department stores and hospitals and offering information on the availability of nursery schools over the Internet.
On the downside, simply luring families through the introduction of special child-care services may not be enough to keep many of these families from moving on to more appealing districts as their children grow up. Areas that simply provide child-raising support and fail to make long-term efforts toward providing high-quality living environments and education may find it difficult to prevent the continuing drop-off in their child populations.
Copyright (c) 2000 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.