TOKYO -- The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare aims to require all child consultation centers to have lawyers on duty from April 2022 in response to an increasing number of child abuse cases.
The ministry hopes the move will enable lawyers to become involved in such cases on a daily basis and make it easier for the centers to exercise their legal power to protect children.
The Child Welfare Act already calls for prefectural and major municipal governments to have lawyers at consultation centers. Up until now, however, the central government allows centers to sign consulting contracts with law firms rather than having a full-time legal expert on hand, or have lawyers on duty at major central child consultation centers to provide consultation for other local centers.
As a result, just seven of the 212 child consultation centers around Japan employ full-time lawyers, while 86 facilities have part-time lawyers.
Under the new arrangement, the ministry intends to allow part-timers. However, some ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers urge mandatory full-time employment because some centers now have part-time lawyers just for two hours a month.
The ministry will submit a bill to mandate the allocation of lawyers, doctors and nurses at child consultation centers during the regular Diet session that convenes at the end of January.
(Japanese original by Ai Yokota, Medical Welfare News Department)