Japan eyes setting up child agency in FY 2023

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government is making arrangements to set up an agency tasked with formulating and implementing policy measures for children in fiscal 2023, informed sources said.

By the end of this year, the government plans to draw up a basic policy on the new agency, which will assume missions to provide seamless support for children regardless of age and get rid of sectionalism within the government, according to the sources.

It will be closely watched what authority the agency will be granted in order to come up with workable policy measures.

The government started considering the creation of a child agency at the initiative of former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also regards the envisaged agency as a centerpiece of his domestic policy measures. “We have discussed the importance of a child agency. I will make efforts to launch it,” Kishida told reporters on Saturday.

The Kishida government plans to submit a bill to create a child agency to the ordinary session of parliament next year and aims to have the legislation enacted during the same session. It hopes to establish the agency in fiscal 2023 after coordination among related government ministries and agencies.

A government-appointed panel of experts discussing the design of the agency published a draft outline of its report on Friday. The basic principles of the agency is developing policies from the standpoint of children and people engaged in child-rearing, providing proactive support instead of responding to requests for help, and giving support that overcomes administrative sectionalism and age boundaries, according to the draft.

As specific measures, the draft cited seamless support starting from around childbirth and covering the whole parenting period, as well as efforts to address child poverty and the problem of young carers, or children who look after family members in need of support.

The government plans to draw up a basic policy on the basis of a panel report to be issued later this month, the sources said.

The child agency is expected to integrate related departments of government ministries and agencies including the welfare ministry and the Cabinet Office. Seiko Noda, minister in charge of policies related to children, said at a news conference on Nov. 16 that she hopes to create an administrative organization equipped with strong control tower functions.

It is still uncertain whether administrative sectionalism will be broken down as planned.

There are persistent calls for not integrating nursery schools, which are governed by the welfare ministry, and kindergartens, which are under the jurisdiction of the education ministry.