At a plenary session of the House of Representatives on May 10, Minister of State for Measures for Declining Birthrate Yoko Komiyama spoke about three pieces of legislation relating to the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation: a proposal for children and childcare support, a proposal for integrated kindergarten and childcare facilities (so-called “kodomo-en”), and a proposal relating to legislative revisions in line with the implementation of the aforementioned proposals. DPJ Diet member Kenta Izumi posed questions on behalf of the DPJ and the Club of Independents.
During her talk, Komiyama remarked, “Children are the hope of society and the force that will build our future. The realisation of a society with an environment favourable to the promotion of childbirth and childcare is one of the most significant goals for our nation. We must enhance child related support especially in light of the declining population in Japan.” Komiyama reported about the proposals for children and childcare support, stating that they were designed to reorganize existing measures and develop a new, integrated system that would be implemented by municipalities and backed by prefectural and national governments in a multi-layered way.
The main points of the legislation discussed are as follows:
1) Municipalities are responsible for providing children and childcare support benefits and implementing area-based support projects in a systematic and comprehensive manner. National and prefectural governments deliver necessary measures to ensure the proper and smooth operation of services.
2) The children and childcare support benefits consists of a “cash benefit given directly to the children’s parents or guardian” and “monetary support for ‘kodomo-en’ or other local facilities for child education or childcare in accordance with the number of children being cared for.”
3) The Prime Minister has established principle guidelines toward the comprehensive promotion of children and childcare support. Municipal and prefectural governments develop plans to secure provision systems for the services according to the guidelines of the national government.
4) Municipalities cover expenditures related to “monetary support for ‘kodomo-en’ or other local education or care facilities in accordance with the number of children being cared for” and other area-based projects.
5) In order to examine and research substantive matters related to the enforcement of the legislation, a council on children and childcare issues will be established in the Cabinet Office.