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Japan PM Suga willing to establish 'children's agency'

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks at a House of Councillors committee session in Tokyo on April 5, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday expressed his willingness to set up a new agency to spearhead policies on children after ruling party lawmakers proposed it last week in a bid to woo voters ahead of a general election.

    The Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers called for creating the agency to coordinate child policies on medical and educational services and those handled by police as part of the country's efforts to address its persistently low birthrate.

    "We need to eliminate the sectionalism of policies and consider how an organization should be," said Suga at a meeting of the House of Councillors' Audit Committee.

    "From the broad standpoint of ensuring Japan's future, I want my party to study the establishment of such an agency," said Suga.

    The prime minister has already instructed the LDP to produce a blueprint for the agency as part of a special organization under him to be headed by Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, according to sources close to the matter.

    The government is seeking to include the children's agency in its basic policies to be compiled around June, hoping to appeal to people with children, they said.

    Issues that could fall under the agency's realm include child poverty, abuse and suicides as well as the realignment of the administrative jurisdiction of nursery schools and kindergartens.

    The LDP is planning to make the "children's agency" a pillar of its election pledges as a general election is expected to be held sometime before Suga's term as LDP leader and hence Japan's prime minister runs out at the end of September and the House of Representatives members' terms expire on Oct. 21.

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