Japan expanding free preschool, part of Abe's $17.5bn spending
Nikkei -- Nov 09
Japan will spend roughly 800 billion yen ($7.01 billion) to expand its free preschool program, part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to increase human resources investment.

The expansion will render all 3- to 5-year-olds eligible for assistance, regardless of their parents' income, making preschools free for an additional 2 million children. Currently, 2.5 million children in that age group attend either nursery school or kindergarten in Japan.

The Abe government has put together a 2 trillion yen package -- around $17.5 billion -- for what he calls "revolutions in productivity and human resources development," promising programs such as free university education for students in low-income households.

Nearly 1.7 trillion yen in revenue expected from a consumption tax increase in October 2019 will finance the package, with the corporate sector contributing the remaining 300 billion yen.

Japan's consumption tax rate is scheduled to rise to 10% from 8% currently. As the higher rate will apply during only part of fiscal 2019, the free preschool program will cover only 5-year-olds in that fiscal year, before expanding to 3- and 4-year-olds the following year.

High-income earners who enroll children in a private kindergarten still will pay at least part of the cost. Japan already provides free preschool for low-income parents and will maintain the current method of paying the average fee, which currently stands at 25,700 yen a month.

Care for children up to age 2 will be free for households that make less than 2.6 million yen a year and are exempt from municipal residency tax. Nearly 10 billion yen will be earmarked to fund this effort.

News source: Nikkei
Feb 20
It was in December 2016 that casino gambling was first legalised throughout Japan, finally putting an end to a 15-year hiatus during which politicians basically argued with each other. (newsonjapan.com)
Feb 20
Fukushima Prefectural Police have arrested a 24-year-old man for allegedly killing his girlfriend, whose body is believed to have been left in their residence in Koriyama City since early this month, reports the Sankei Shimbun (tokyoreporter.com)
Feb 20
A fighter jet from the US Misawa Airbase in northern Japan developed an engine fire on Tuesday morning and offloaded fuel tanks into a lake. (NHK)
Feb 20
Investigative sources with the Chiba Prefectural Police have revealed that two men, a woman and a teenage girl arrested after a charred corpse was found in a burned-out residence in Inzai City were living inside a vehicle, reports the Sankei Shimbun (tokyoreporter.com)
Feb 20
Japan's labor minister has apologized for having provided inaccurate figures to the prime minister in Diet debate on working system reform. (NHK)
Feb 20
Kanagawa Prefectural Police have arrested a 28-year-old man after a missing elementary school girl and another girl were found in his residence in Kawasaki City, reports TV Asahi (tokyoreporter.com)
Feb 20
The former chairman of Sekisui House was ousted after his attempt to remove a sitting president over a land scam backfired, resulting in a stunning boardroom coup by his protege, The Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Feb 19
Nao Kodaira won the women's 500-meter speedskating event in the Pyeongchang Olympics on Sunday, becoming the first Japanese woman to win gold in the sport. (Jiji)
Feb 19
An officer with the Osaka Prefectural Police shot and wounded a 25-year-old man in Miyakojima Ward on Sunday after he refused to drop a knife he was wielding, reports NHK (tokyoreporter.com)
Feb 19
Figure skating star Yuzuru Hanyu said he took painkillers while competing to win the men’s singles title at the Pyeongchang Olympics, revealing that he has not yet recovered from his right ankle injury. (the-japan-news.com)