Japan to launch agency for children, families in FY 2023

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government Tuesday adopted a basic policy for creating a children’s and families’ agency in fiscal 2023 that will serve as the “control tower” for various policies related to children.

The agency will consolidate operations of multiple government agencies, aiming to eliminate the segmentation of administrative functions and provide seamless support in related areas.

The government will submit legislation to launch the agency at next year’s session of the Diet to be convened in January.

Currently, the welfare and education ministries are in charge of administrative services for children. The Cabinet Office handles measures to fight the country’s falling birthrate, while the National Police Agency addresses sexual crimes against children.

The welfare ministry oversees nurseries, the education ministry kindergartens, and the Cabinet Office certified “kodomoen” kindergarten-nursery hybrids.

The segmented administrative services across multiple government entities often draw criticism. Pundits also say that assistance tends to be interrupted as each statutory service targets different age groups.

According to the basic policy, adopted at a Cabinet meeting, the planned agency will be established as an external organization of the Cabinet Office directly under the prime minister.

The agency will have a minister authorized to make recommendations to other government departments. It will have three divisions, namely, planning and general coordination, child development affairs and support.

The government will also work out policy guidelines related to children.

The planned agency will take charge of nursery schools and kodomoen facilities.

The education ministry will continue to oversee kindergartens, while it will work with the agency to draw up kindergarten educational policy guidelines. The two entities will also cooperate to deal with school bullying issues by sharing information.

Under the newly adopted basic policy, the government will consider introducing a Japanese version of Britain’s Disclosure and Barring Service that would require those who work with children to present a certificate showing that they have no history of sexual crimes.