Parents are puzzled by the rules for using take-out diapers at many public child care centers in Japan

Used diapers for children (Mainichi)

TOKYO — About 40% of municipalities in Japan require guardians to take home their children’s soiled diapers from public childcare facilities, a survey by a private organization has found. It’s a public administrative duty to support child care in the community, so why aren’t so many local governments promoting the elimination of diapers in child care?

“Why should I take them (used diapers) home? I never told daycare that it bothers me because I don’t want to make waves. But it’s strange,” says a woman from 43 years old who sends her 2-year-old daughter to a day care center in Kyoto City. Each time she picks up her daughter, she is asked to bring home three or four used diapers in a bag. When she gets home, she throws them straight in the trash.

Osaka-based Baby Job Inc., which offers a subscription diaper service for daycares, has investigated what happens to used diapers in daycares through its “Association to Eliminate Take-Out Diapers from Daycares.” ”

Starting in February this year, the association surveyed each of Japan’s 1,461 municipalities that run public nurseries, and if even one of the centers asked parents to bring used nappies home, the municipality was ranked. as a municipality with a “take away service”. ” policy. The results showed that 39% of the municipalities belonged to this category. On the other hand, 49% of them were “non-portable” municipalities. diaper policies at their daycare or answered “other”.

The prefectures with the highest rates of “takeout” municipalities were Shiga (89%), Nagano (85%), Kagawa (75%), Kyoto (73%), Shimane (67%), Yamaguchi (67%) , Fukui (65%), Okayama (60%), Miyazaki (60%) and Tokushima (59%).

A child’s diaper before use (Mainichi)

Meanwhile, Ehime, Ishikawa, and Aomori prefectures had no municipalities with a take-out policy. Those with low percentages were Okinawa (5%), Akita (6%), Toyama (7%), Niigata (12%), Yamagata (14%), Ibaraki (16%) and Tokyo (17%).

Asked why people ask people to take soiled diapers home, the responses from municipalities fall into five categories. The most common was “checking the physical condition of the child by his stool” at 43%, followed by “it is a continuous practice or unknown reasons” at 30%, “problems with the organization of storage and garbage collection” at 14%, and “budget not available” at 9%.

According to the city government of Kyoto, a “take-out” municipality, it has been requiring guardians to take used diapers home from public childcare centers since April 2011, when it switched from cloth diapers to disposable diapers to eliminate the “public-private divide”. “with private establishments, where disposables had become the norm.

Naohiko Kinoshita, director of the city’s division in charge of public day care centers, said, “In addition to our 14 day care centers, there are many private facilities and those that combine the functions of a kindergarten and a day care center, and the city as a whole needs to think about this (problem).”

He added: “Municipalities have to decide what to do with the tight budgets they have. If local government has to bear the cost as a commercial waste, they have to manage the budget for it.”

In the city of Fukuoka, all seven public day care centers require guards to take used diapers home, and “this practice has been around since the days of cloth diapers,” said Yukinori Abe, director of the guidance and counseling division. municipal government inspection of the future children’s office. He added: “We want guardians to keep track of their children’s health, such as how many times they defecate.

“Guardians buy crayons and other items that are used by individual children at the center. One idea is that the same goes for nappies, with guardians bearing the cost of disposing of them,” he said. he continued.

Meiji University Professor Yuiko Fujita (Mainichi)

Yuiko Fujita, a sociology professor at Meiji University who has written several books including “Wanope Ikuji” (A Babysitting Operation), was outraged at the situation.

“I think the current situation (of bringing home used nappies) is allowed to prevail because our society has little awareness of raising children together, and the idea that it’s the mother’s responsibility to take care of children and their excrement is deeply rooted.”

Masayuki Takahashi, associate professor at Saitama University, is seen in June 2022. (Mainichi/Shoko Washizu)

Masayuki Takahashi, an associate professor of public finance at Saitama University and an expert on childcare policies, pointed out, “Not only on this issue, but on any policy, municipalities refer to ‘budget constraints’ when they look for reasons not to do something. Municipalities that use their budget as a reason may be less aware of this problem or unwilling to add to their workload.”

He added, “In Japan, if a neighboring municipality takes action, things tend to move forward like falling dominoes, and if momentum builds, it can be expected to spread naturally. care centers could be deepened and improvements made through their requests to the local government.”

(Japanese original by Miyuki Fujisawa, Digital News Center)

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