On May 20, 2013, Yokohama City Hall officials said that the city has reduced the number of children on nursery school waiting list to zero from 179 as of April 1, 2013. With this, the target of 2010 has been met in three years.
At one stage, the lists were the longest of any municipality in Japan. This recent reduction of the lists has been made mainly in order to increase the number of nursery schools, by aggressively encouraging private companies to enter the business. Moreover, the city also promoted non-registered day-care facilities that met the standards of the city.
These standards are somewhat more relaxed than the national standard. Health, Labor and Welfare ministry said that similar problems will exist in the urban areas across the nation, as increasing number of households have both parents working. Even the local governments are facing difficulties in addressing this problem.
Shinzo Abe’s government is willing to learn from Yokohama’s success and also intends to address the problem as a part of its growth strategy, as it has become a major obstacle to women returning to work after childbirth. In regards to that, the Prime Minister proposed the increase of maternity leave. However, experts say that an increase in nursery schools will lead to a shortage of qualified teachers.