Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speak to media during a news conference on November 22, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Mohd Samsul Mohd Said—Getty Images
By Sarah Begley
March 14, 2016

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has responded to outrage over the country’s strained daycare resources, pledging to solve the problem in the wake of an anonymous blog post that went viral.

The post, titled “I couldn’t get daycare — die Japan!!!,” was written by a woman who claimed she could not get daycare for her child and would have to quit her job. It was shared more than 50,000 times, and a petition calling on Abe to reduce wait lists the issue by improving working conditions for childcare workers received nearly 30,000 signatures. Abe initially brushed off the post, saying its anonymity meant the content could not be verified, but even this prompted protests online and outside the parliament, with women expressing their own experience in such situations, Bloomberg reports.

Abe pledged on Friday to propose a series of changes that will address the issue, which stems from both a long wait list for government-sponsored daycare (last year it reached 23,167) and high costs for private daycare. Last year, 950,000 women said childbirth or childcare was the reason they weren’t looking for a job, despite wanting to work.

“Applications for nursery schools have increased at a pace faster than we can provide places for,” Abe said on Monday. “We will do our utmost to cut waiting lists to zero so that people can both work and raise children.”

[Bloomberg]

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