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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 January 6 - 12  > Working mothers fighting for better subsidy program for parents affected by coronavirus-caused school closures
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2021 January 6 - 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Working mothers fighting for better subsidy program for parents affected by coronavirus-caused school closures

January 6, 2021
A 28-year-old working mother living in Sapporo City in Hokkaido has stood up to urge the national government to allow individual workers to apply for cash benefits provided to parents taking childcare leave due to coronavirus-triggered school closures and a voluntary-ban on attending nurseries.

The woman, Tanaka Konatsu, is a mother of preschool- and elementary-age children and works a part-time job. Last year, after the government carried out a nationwide school closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak, she had to take days off in order to look after her children, which caused her a loss of income. Experiencing financial anxiety, she discovered the state program to provide cash benefits to parents affected by coronavirus-triggered school closures. As the program only accepts applications from employers, she asked her boss to apply for the benefit. However, her request was rejected.

Sometime after that, when watching a TV news program, Tanaka learned that a woman worker of similar age joined the Sapporo Youth Union to negotiate with her company for the use of the state program to compensate for income losses of parents who take childcare leave due to the pandemic. Tanaka joined the union and began negotiating with her company and a local labor bureau to apply for the subsidy.

In the negotiation, Tanaka’s employer refused to apply for the income compensation program on the grounds that Tanaka was not permitted to take childcare leave. Furthermore, the company attacked her by saying that the application for the subsidy program will provide a sense of unfairness to workers who filled in for Tanaka during her absence.

Tanaka said, “I had to take leave to care for my kids in accordance with the government anti-coronavirus measures. So, I decided to apply for the loss-of-income benefit. Why am I being attacked?”

Tanaka, in collaboration with working mothers across Japan, has been urging the Labor and Welfare Ministry to revise the subsidy program for parents so that individual workers can submit applications for financial support.
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