Japanese government promises free pre-school education for all children

24 Oct 17

Japan will make education and childcare a priority over fiscal reforms, the prime minister said after winning a new mandate this weekend. 

Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and ally Komeito won the snap election on Sunday, reportedly boosted in part by his pledge to invest more in education and childcare. 

The promise includes free pre-school for all children between the age of three and five, as well as for children aged two or below from low-income households.

The government estimated the free pre-school education to cost 1.2trn yen ($10.54bn).

The prime minister told a news conference: “We aim to exit deflation by accelerating wage growth through innovation on productivity.

“We will promote human resources, proceed with free pre-school education in one spell and we are going to offer free higher education for children who truly need it.”

He also said he would go ahead with a planned hike of sales tax, from 8 to 10% in 2019, and use some of the revenue to education instead of paying down public debt.

Japan’s debt is the industrial world’s heaviest debt burden at twice the size of its $5trn economy, Reuters reported.

But Abe has pushed back the primary budget-balancing target and has vowed to compile an extra spending plan worth around 2trn yen for human capital investment by the end of the year.

Last month Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso said the government should set a new timeframe to achieve its budget-balancing goal by 2020/21.

Japan’s economy grew at its fastest pace in more than two years in the second quarter of this year.

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