Tokyo mothers protest against shortage of nursery schools

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    Here is an interesting video of a recent protest in Tokyo, courtesy of ANN:

    It shows a group of mothers who gathered in front of the Suginami ward office in Tokyo to protest a shortage of nursery schools. In the latest round of applications for the nursery schools maintained by the ward, 1,833 children were rejected because there was simply no space for them (there were 2,968 applicants). The mothers, many of whom probably need to work during the day but cannot afford expensive private nurseries, are understandably angry.

    The reporters visit the house of a woman who lives in Itabashi ward of Tokyo. She gave birth to a baby a year and one month ago, and was planning to return to full-time work. Unfortunately, she was unable to find a nursery for her child. She applied for five places, and they all turned her down because they were full. Because her maternity leave only lasts until April, she will be forced to abandon her job.

    Government-run nursery schools have pretty strict entry requirements. Because of a shortage of such facilities, they give preference to people in the worst financial circumstances. The woman they interview says she has heard about some couples getting divorced so they could have a better chance at passing the entry screening.

    There are, of course, private nursery schools. However, they can be quite expensive. The report says that it can cost about 100,000 yen ($1,060) a month to put two children in daycare.

    It’s a really bad situation. If a mother has to face such difficulty and economic hardship after having one child, she may very well decide not to have more children. Not a great outcome for Japan’s birth rate…

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