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Japanese local governments launch free school supplies initiative

Japanese local governments launch free school supplies initiative

Posted March. 05, 2024 07:54,   

Updated March. 05, 2024 07:54


In Japan, numerous small local governments are adopting a 'free school supplies' policy as a strategy. The aim is to boost the fertility rate by alleviating the financial burden on parents. Japan’s central and local governments are also actively implementing policies that involve providing direct cash payments to parents as part of broader efforts to address the demographic challenge posed by low birth rates.

According to the Tokyo Shimbun on Monday, Shinagawa Ward in Tokyo will initiate a program to provide free school supplies to approximately 24,000 students enrolled in 46 public elementary and middle schools in the district beginning in April this year. The supplies include calligraphy tools, paints, exercise books, carving knives, morning glory growing kits, and more. Previously, schools in each district procured these items in bulk, charging fees to parents. Starting this year, however, Shinagawa City will take on the full responsibility of supporting and providing these school supplies.

Ebina City in Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, has also decided to offer complimentary auxiliary teaching materials, including exercise books and laboratory equipment, starting from the new semester in April. Previously, these materials were only provided to first-year elementary and middle school students at no cost. However, beginning this year, the provision has been extended to include all elementary and middle school students in the city.

Metropolitan organizations are also adopting similar policies in succession. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, for instance, grants 5,000 yen per month to parents raising children under the age of 18, irrespective of their income. If there are two children, 120,000 yen (about 1.08 million won) is disbursed for the entire year. Additionally, the Japanese central government has decided to provide a child allowance ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 yen per month starting in October until the child graduates from high school. Previously, the child allowance amount varied based on income, but now it will be provided unconditionally.

Commencing next year, the Japanese local governments have also chosen to implement a policy of exempting college tuition and admission fees for not only the third child but also the first and second children in families with three or more children.

도쿄=이상훈 특파원 sanghun@donga.com