Global Child Care

HOIKUEN is becoming more diverse

The child care scene is diversifying.
The percentage of children which either of the parent is a foreigner continues to increase in Japan. Many of these parents leave their children at a childcare facility to go to work.
Our research group focused on the situation these parents are left in and began researching foreign parents as a target group from 2021.
From our research, we have come to understand that parents who do not have sufficient reading and writing skills in Japanese, face many struggles in daycares. Furthermore, we have come to know the difficulty that daycare teachers and other parents are facing in regards to foreign parents.

Let’s understand! Difficulties of parents/ guardians from different backgrounds

The difficulties that foreign parents face is not due to their lack of personal responsibility.
The numbers of foreign residents are rising. People who have at least one foreign parents has reached 3.1 %. To ensure a smooth transition to compulsory education, the Ministry of Justice is encouraging foreign children to enroll in kindergarten or nursery school.
Improving responsiveness towards foreign parents is no longer a challenge for only a small portion of schools.
With so many foreign parents living as members of Japanese society, what should we do now?

We don’t understand Japanese. Even if we could speak a little Japanese, reading and writing can be very difficult. It is hard to tell which documents from the daycare are important. Handwritten documents are especially difficult because we cannot use a translation software to read the text. The Japanese language does not use the alphabet, which makes it impossible to figure out keywords to search on the Internet.
We have communication concerns. I want to know how my child is doing in nursery school, but I think teachers avoid talking to me because I am a foreigner. I hesitate to voice my concern because I do not want to be a burden to the teachers. I do not want my child to interpret for me, nor leave everything to my Japanese partner.
We have cultural differences. I struggle to understand what the annual events are, or the meaning behind it. It may be normal for Japanese people, but I am sometimes surprised by the different way of thinking from my native country. I would be grateful if they could provide a simple explanation, or a way to study about it myself.

3 Proposals to solve the issues

Does this only benefit foreigners? No, it is for the benefit of Japan as well.
Regardless of race, children are a national treasure. The interaction with families that have non-Japanese rules will increase the awareness and ability of the future generation to live with diverse people.
It is said that in the future, many children with foreign roots will become residents and citizens in Japan. Why don’t we think about the future of child care as a society?

We don’t understand Japanese. *Add a title for documents that needs to be submitted (add an English headline/put an image of the classroom). *Mark important imformation *Digitize (convert to PDF) handouts and information *Use email or communication apps
We have communication concerns. *Speak slowly when speaking Japanese. *Use gestures. *Use automatic translators and translation apps.
We have cultural differences. *Prepare a simple explanation of events in English. *Offer opportunities to do research. *Write the annual schedule in both Japanese and English characters.

The article “Kyoto city’s rapid globalization of HOIKUEN (Childhood Care Center) was published in the newspaper Kyoto Shimbun.

Kyoto city’s rapid globalization of nursery schools - Kyoto-Newspaper


[Research Advisor]

Nobutaka Ayani,
Department of Psychiatry, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine


Yoshihiro Matsumoto,
Department of Psychiatry, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine

Sara Park,
Lecturer at the Department of Cultures, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki

Sachiko Hiratsuka,
Faculty of Education, Otani University

Hiroko Ito (Otsuka),
Department of Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Kyoto Tachibana University

Noriko Ichikawa,
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Nursing, Kyoto University of Advanced Science

Motoko Abe,
Motoko Abe, Akaimi Hoikuen