MP Shiori Yamano
A blog post titled, “Hoiku-en Ochita, Die Japan!!!” (保育園落ちた 日本死ね!!! roughly translates to “I Cannot Find a Preschool for My Child, Die Japan!!!) was posted by an anonymous individual on February 15, generating widespread controversy.
In the blog post, the author (who was unable to find a preschool spot for her child) complained about the insufficient effort toward making enough preschool spots available for Japanese children. The blog post was written against a background of a shortage in the number of preschools in Japan despite a declining birth rate. Children who are not accepted into a preschool are referred to as “waiting children” (Taiki Jido 待機児童), and the number of such children was 23,167 in 2015. In Japan, preschools provide important child care benefits for parents who work, so without securing a spot in a preschool, it is often the case that a mother cannot work.
The blog post was reported by TV news programs, in newspapers and in magazines. In a budgetary committee of Lower House on February 29, Democratic Party of Japan MP Shiori Yamamo asked Prime Minister Abe a question about the blog post. MP Yamamo noted that the blog post is written using rough language, but that it represents a genuine set of concerns about the issue discussed in the post. In response, Prime Minister Abe stated that since it was written anonymously, he could not confirm that there was really a problem. During the dialogue between Yamano and Abe, a heckler yelled out “bring the author here!”
MP Yoshiko Kira (Right) @kirayoshiko
Following this incident in the Parliament on February 29, the a petition circulated on the Internet demanding the government to provide more preschool spots. The petition was started by a woman in her forties whose own experience resonated with the blog post. On March 9, the petition was presented to the Minister of Health and Welfare, Yasuhisa Shiozaki with approximately 27,000 signatures. On March 4 and 5, a rally highlighting the insufficient preschool availability took place in front of the parliament. Many brought their babies with them to the rally, including Japan Communist Party MP Yoshiko Kira.
The author of the blog agreed to conduct an anonymous interview with some media outlets including TV Asahi, Asahi Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun. It was revealed that she is 36 years old and wrote the post out of desperation when she was unable to find a preschool for her two-year-old daughter after deciding to go back to work.