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News Navigator: What are Japan's new day care rules to protect children from sexual abuse?

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The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about Japan's sexual abuse prevention measures for children at day care centers and other child care facilities.

    Question: How are regulations changing in the day care system to protect children from sexual violence?

    Answer: The revised Child Welfare Act was passed in the Diet on June 8, including a new rule targeting day care nurses whose registration with prefectural governments has been revoked over sexual abuse of children or other such reasons. The law imposes stricter rules for such nurses who want to reregister to work in the child care industry again.

    Q: How are they stricter?

    A: Currently, day care nurses who have had their registration revoked after being sentenced to imprisonment without labor or a heavier punishment for sexual violence involving children are banned from reregistration for two years after their jail terms end. Under the revised law, this will be extended to "up to 10 years."

    Q: Why are these rules necessary?

    A: Sexual violence targeting children in the child care and educational fields has come to be recognized as a social problem after a string of cases were reported, including a sexual abuse case two years ago in which a man who had signed up with a babysitting app was arrested for molesting a child he was looking after. Japan apparently used the U.K. system as a model for the latest legal revision.

    Q: What's the U.K. system?

    A: For those who deal with children aged 17 and younger for at least two hours a day, authorities issue a certificate saying that the person has not been involved in a sex crime in the past, which allows their criminal record to be checked. The British government's Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) oversees this system, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the Diet that he would introduce "the Japanese version of the DBS in the educational and child care industries," using the British system as a model. The latest adoption of the revision is the first step towards realizing the Japanese DBS.

    Q: What might happen in the future?

    A: Debate on expanding the scope of the measures under the DBS could accelerate. That being said, one's criminal record is important private information and disclosing it could lead to constraints on human rights, so there's a need to carefully consider the operation of the system.

    (Japanese original by Takashi Kokaji, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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