(Nikkei: January 15, 2015 – p. 2)
The government decided on Jan. 14 to allocate a record 31.5 trillion yen to social welfare for fiscal 2015. Out of that amount, 520 billion yen will be earmarked for child-care projects. The segment will receive 210 billion yen more money than in fiscal 2014.
Meanwhile, the budgets for pension, healthcare, and nursing care will be reduced. However, since the nation’s population is graying rapidly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to rein in spending in these segments.
The increase in child-care budget is aimed at creating an environment that makes it easier for women to work outside the home. The government sets a goal of accepting 400,000 children in nurseries by the end of fiscal 2017. In fiscal 2015, it plans to build new day-care facilities for 80,000 children to ensure places for a total of 280,000 children.
The government is also making efforts to boost the capacity of after-school care for elementary school children. In fiscal 2015, it will enhance after-school programs for 200,000 more children.
The budget for social welfare, including child-care, is 5% higher than in fiscal 2014. (Abridged)