Apr 27, 2018
We live in a rural town of Saitama Prefecture that may very well be singly responsible for increasing the declining population of Japan. Large families are commonplace here. In my second grade son's class the average number of children per family is four. More than twice the size of the nation's average. 20% of his class have five or more siblings.
Kobaton, the Mascot of Saitama
The reason for so many big families maybe in part thanks to a number of incentives introduced by local government to alleviate the financial challenges families face. For example, preschool which normally costs in excess of 20,000 yen per month per child, is free for the third (and any subsequent) child. You have to pay the fees up front from April of the tax year, but in January of the same tax year the fees for the full year (April to March) are reimbursed.
Moreover, if you have a third (or more) the second child's preschool fees get halved. The once off preschool entrance fee charge is also halved for the third and up child/ren. You also get a once off payment of 10,000 yen when a child enters preschool and again when they enter primary school if you have 3 or more children. So it ends up costing you less (for the fees) to send your children to preschool, than it does for a family with just one or two child/ren!
The scheme was first introduced in 2014, but initially it was only for families that had three or more children within years of each other. The oldest child had to be in primary school for your preschool third child to qualify, but a couple of years ago they amended it for all families with three children regardless of age gap. Likewise initially the scheme was only for preschool, but now they have something similar for creche / nursery too.
For families that use nursery or creche instead of preschool the corresponding scheme considerably lessen the costs for families with more than two children. Just like preschool you pay the fees up front, but a large percentage of the fee for creche is reimbursed by the town in the January of the same tax year.
Child support is also more per child for the third child or any children after. If you have only two children you get 10,000 yen per child per month. If you have three children or more, you get 15,000 yen per month per child for the third (plus) child.
Another example of the benefits for large families in Saitama is the prefectural wide financial contribution for building a new house. If you have three or more children in Saitama there is a scheme you can apply to for a financial contribution from the prefecture toward the costs of building your new home.
Free preschool and nursery may not yet be prefecture wide, but it would seem eventually it may even be nationwide. Prime Minister Abe has proposed that revenue from the tax hikes to be introduced next year get funneled into making preschool free for all children aged between 3 and 5 years old. It may or may not happen, but for now at least there are areas of Saitama Prefecture that offer good financial support for families with preschool aged children.
Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.