News about Japan: free preschool education for 300,000 Japanese children. Japan’s desperate plan to stimulate people to have children

The education ministry plans to launch a subsidy program that would cover half of the kindergarten tuition for a second child and make preschool free for subsequent children, with no income restrictions.

About 300,000 children will receive free preschool education or have their fees partly covered under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry program, which will require a budget of about 30 billion yen, it was learned Friday.

However, the ministry is expected to face difficulties in negotiating with the Finance Ministry to secure the necessary funds.

The Liberal Democratic Party pledged to make kindergarten education free during its campaign for the House of Representatives election in December as part of a child-rearing support program.

Although a related measure was implemented this fiscal year, free preschool education is available for a third child and beyond only when three or more children are enrolled in a kindergarten at the same time.

This program, for which about 100 million yen is appropriated, covers about 600 children nationwide.

The ministry plan, which is expected to be implemented next fiscal year, will cover the second child and beyond regardless of whether they are enrolled in a kindergarten at the same time.

The ministry will subsidize half the kindergarten tuition for a second child and make such education free for a third child and beyond.

Preschool education will be free for the first child in a household receiving livelihood protection benefits.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura, Masako Mori, state minister in charge of measures for the low birthrate, and Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura are expected to discuss the ministry’s plan this week.

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