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Abe says gov't 'working hard' to improve day care shortage after angry blog goes viral

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed that his government is committed to improving the shortage of day care facilities after an angry blog entry written by a mother who apparently had not been able to get her child into a nursery went viral online.

"We are pushing forward with measures to increase the number of child care facilities twice as fast as the time before the current government," Abe told a House of Councillors Budget Committee session on March 7, adding, "We want to improve the working conditions of child care workers."

The online entry, titled "Hoikuen ochita Nihon shine!!!" (My child wasn't accepted for nursery school. Die, Japan!!!"), has gone viral since it was posted in mid-February. When asked about it at a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Feb. 29, Prime Minister Abe said, "Since it's anonymous, there's no way to tell if it's genuine or not." This response angered many, and prompted people to hold a protest rally in front of the National Diet building on March 5.

At the March 7 Diet session, opposition Social Democratic Party lawmaker Mizuho Fukushima called the government's child care policies a "failure." Abe, in response, explained a government plan to raise the child care capacity by 500,000 by the end of fiscal 2017, and added, "It's not a failure. We're working hard."

In light of public dissatisfaction fueled by the blog entry, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on March 7, "It is extremely important to ease the sadness and desperation felt by parents who are not able to have their children admitted to nurseries and unable to work like they used to."

Meanwhile, Yukio Edano, secretary-general of the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said, "People's anger and voices have created a tide of protest (against the government). We'll push forward policies to improve working conditions of child care workers and their wages to advance child care support."

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