The rule for taking home dirty diapers in Japanese nurseries stuns parents | Japan

Waiting lists for Japanese nurseries are finally dwindling, but many parents have found that securing one of the coveted places comes at a price: taking their child’s dirty diapers home.

A study has shed light on the common but rarely discussed practice, with about 40% of cities in Japan saying they require their baby customers’ guardians to take their used diapers with them.

“I never told the crèche that it bothers me because I don’t want to rock the boat. But it’s strange,” said one mother, returning from picking up her child with three or four filled diapers in a bag that she throws away as soon as she gets home.

“Why should I take them home?” added the woman, whose two-year-old daughter attends a nursery in Kyoto, where the city government has had the policy since 2011, according to Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

Baby Job – an Osaka-based child support company that supplies diapers to public childcare providers – surveyed all 1,461 municipalities that run daycare centers and found that 39% had a “takeaway” policy.

The company put towns and cities on the list, even if only one of the centers they operate causes parents to go home with used diapers every day.

The poll found that 49% had no such requirement, while 11% were unsure or simply answered “other”.

The main ‘offender’ was Shiga prefecture in western Japan, where 89% of daycare centers asked parents to take their child’s diapers home, compared to 17% in Tokyo and 5% in southern Okinawa prefecture.

The facilities gave several reasons for asking the question, with most saying it gave parents the ability to monitor their child’s health by examining their stools, while a smaller number said they didn’t have the facilities or budget to do so. throw away the diapers yourself.

An official in the southwestern city of Fukuoka said the practice was a hangover from the days when reusable diapers were more common. “We want the guardians of the children to keep track of their health status, such as the number of times they defecate,” Yukinori Abe, of the child welfare agency of the municipal government, told Mainichi Shimbun.

“Guardians buy crayons and other items used by individual children at the center… the same goes for diapers, with the guardians bearing the cost of their removal.”

Yuiko Fujita, a sociology professor at Meiji University, said the policies reflect the outdated approach to childcare in Japanese society.

“It may go on because our society has little awareness of raising children together,” she said. “The idea that it is the mother’s responsibility to care for children and their feces is deeply rooted.”

While the birth rate in Japan fell to a record low of 810,000 last year, the anger among working mothers over the lack of childcare facilities has led local governments to drastically expand the number of public nurseries.

The number of children waiting for preschool places in Tokyo has fallen to about 300, compared to more than 8,500 five years ago, while 80% of cities no longer have a waiting list, according to the welfare ministry.

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