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Japan gov't mulls cutting child allowance for high-income working parents

The Kasumigaseki bureaucratic center is seen in the foreground, with the National Diet building in the left background, in this photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Yuki Miyatake)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government is considering cutting back on child allowances for high-income households with two working parents, amid the rising number of double-income families in the country.

    Child allowance amounts are already lower for families with a high-earning head of household. However, the government intends to switch the evaluation criteria from the householder's income to household income earned by a couple. This is expected to result in more families being categorized as high-income, resulting in a reduced child benefit.

    Child allowances are generally paid to households with children, with the monthly amount ranging from 15,000 yen (about $143) per child aged between 0 and 2 to 10,000 yen (about $96) per child between 3 years old and junior high school age. From the third child, the amount is set at 15,000 yen per child up to elementary school age.

    While the base income limit varies depending on the number of dependents in a household, a couple with two children will have their child allowance reduced if the main breadwinner is bringing home 9.6 million yen (about $91,000) or more annually. If a household is deemed to be high-income, it will be eligible for 5,000 yen ($48) a month per child. Switching to couple-based criteria for the allowance is expected to affect some 600,000 people.

    Amid the rising number of double-income families, there has been growing criticism that it is unfair not to determine the income limitation criteria based on a household's total annual income. The government intends to mollify households that will see their child allowances trimmed due to the new rules by diverting the funds saved to creating more day care centers, which are in short supply in Japan.

    (Japanese original by Ryosuke Abe and Hiroyuki Harada, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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