Hiroe Ruby Makiyama’s Profile

Hiroe Ruby Makiyama’s Profile (Maiden Name: Otomi)

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Board Member of the Special Committee on Disasters, Member of the Budget Committee, Member of the Health, Welfare and Labour Committee, Member of the Research Committee on National Life, Economy and Social Security, Member of the Judge Indictment Committee

 

1964:Born on September 1964 (Libra, blood type “O”) in Tokyo Japan. 

1987: Graduated International Christian University B.A. major Communications
Director of a daily news and entertainment TV show “Morning Eye”, TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System, a national TV network) .
1991: Graduated Thomas M. Cooley Law School (Juris Doctor).
1993: Passed the American Bar Examination (New York and Connecticut)
1991-1993: Bingham McCutchen Murase (New York, U.S.A.)
1993-2005: Legal offices of Shochiku Co. Ltd., Warner Brothers, PolyGram (Universal Music) and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
2005: Lost Upper Election (by-election) against Yoriko Kawaguchi, Former Minster of Foreign Affairs (despite winning 765,589 votes)
2007: Elected as a Member of the House of Councillors (Kanagawa-prefecture) The National Diet of Japan.


Mother of two children
Favorite Food:  Besides Yakitori, Natto, Okura, Japanese Yam, Mochi (Anything sticky (“nebarizuyoi”) meaning “perseverance” in Japanese
Hobby:  Jogging, Swimming, and Karaoke
Respecter: Sadako Ogata, and Hillary Clinton
Favorite Color: Green and White
Family: Husband, son and daughter
Personal Motto: Everyday is a beginning

 

Makiyama’s Accomplishments & Activities

 The 7th “Protect the Lives of Mothers and their Children” Awareness Meeting 6/02/2011

On June 2nd, I had the pleasure of chairing the seventh “Protect the Lives of Mothers and their Children” awareness meeting. The gathering was to discuss the relationship between mothers and their offspring and the problems they still face in the world. The first speaker, Mrs. Ikegami, the head of the Tokyo Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), discussed what needed to be done to promote the well being of women around the world, specifically in impoverished nations. The UNFPA is concerned with increasing women’s rights and privileges throughout third world nations. The UNFPA provides relief aid that is specifically designed for their designated areas, such as prayer mats for the women of Sumatra. The main speaker, Mrs. Kita, who is the president of the Japanese Red Cross Kyushu International College of Nursing, spent most of the conference describing what is needed to be done in order to help impregnated women. She used the United Kingdom as a template of how women’s care has increase over the last few hundred years. With the advent of antibiotics and medical tests, an increase in the welfare of mothers can easily be seen. However, this is not a ubiquitous phenomenon, as Mrs. Kita discussed the high mortality rates of woman during childbirth in Africa and other parts of the world. The issue of the high IMR (Infant Mortality Mate) and the MMR (Mother Mortality Rate) is not discussed with much fervor in some parts of the world, and it is our duty to help enlighten this important issue to the populace of Japan and to others around the world. Even in Japan there are still risks in pregnancies, and we must do all we can to lessen the mortality rate of all mothers. The pregnant women around the Tohoku area stricken by the earthquake are not receiving adequate housing, as stated by Dr. Andou, another panellist in the conference, and for the future of Japan, the protection of the mothers and their unborn children are our highest priority.

The Skilled Veterans Coprs 6/02/2011

To all those who have suffered from the great Tohoku earthquake, we give our deepest condolences from the bottom of our hearts. Since the earthquake, we have all been working to help alleviate the dire situation in the Tohoku area. With your help, we can safely rebuild Japan into a stronger nation than before. One of the solutions that has been devised is a project that I strongly support; the Skilled Veterans Corps. Retired engineers and other skilled workers have banded together in order to take over control of the facilities in Fukushima in place of the younger workers. The Skilled Veterans Corps wish to work in the disabled power plants, stating that “The older generation is more suited for this type of job, as they will not be affected by the radiation as much as the younger generation.” By May 23rd, 961 participants have signed up for the movement, and now this number has reached to over a 1000 (of which 165 are engineers and 796 are other supporters).  However, they need the support of the Japanese government to realize their goal. I am fully behind this project, and have lent my voice to their cause, organizing meetings repeatedly with other members of the House of Councillors. The Skilled Veterans Corps have become nationally known, and other foreign media such as BBC and CNN have written articles about the volunteer group, making it known around the world. In order to protect the future of the young engineers and workers around Fukushima and their children, we are counting on the Skilled Veterans Corps to succeed.  To watch the meetings pertaining to the Skilled Veterans Corps, please click on the videos below:

Implementing Public Interest Tax System.   Tax system revision 2010.

(Lowering the applicable minimum on donation from 5,000JPY to 2,000JPY to qualify for tax deduction )

The “culture of donation” in Japan can develop from government planning such as the tax system”!
Some people may question “Why talk about donation in such time of declining economy?”  “Because we are in such time of crisis, we need to highlight those NPOs which devote their works to those who are suffering”, Hiroe Makiyama answers.  There is one obstacle for NPOs.  Namely, the “Tax deduction issue” for donation.  Under the Japanese tax system, donation minimum to qualify for tax deduction was 5,000JPY when filing an income tax return.  In Japan, the number of authorized NPOs which qualify for donation tax deduction is merely 122 (as of March 2010).
     As a leading country of donation culture, United States has no minimum to qualify for donation tax deduction.  Thus even a penny would qualify.  In the U.S., the number of authorized NPOs which qualify for tax deduction amounts to over 1.13 million.
     If the public interest is sufficiently high, taking for example the need for inheriting traditional culture, such an organization may be authorized for tax deduction.  This can be seen in the example of the New York Opera, where its membership fee qualifies for tax deduction.  I have been proposing that likewise in Japan, Sumo, Kabuki, and sports should be taken into account.
     Finally, this proposal by Hiroe Makiyama was included in the “Public Interest Tax System” under Tax System Outline 2010 after the political power shift from LDP to DPJ.
     With the lowering of applicable minimum to 2000 yen, I am more than hoping that donation to public organizations will increase and consequently help activate civic action.
     I will continue to make effort to increase authorized NPOs of high public interest which qualify for tax deduction.

 

Save our Health Care System from declining!
2010 Revision of Medical Service Fee
(Specific Departments:  Department of Obstetrics, Department of Pediatrics, Emergency Department)

Hiroe Makiyama would like to regenerate our collapsing Health Care System.  In order to do so, Makiyama has continued to stress that income of doctors belonging to  departments under scarcity should be raised as a short term goal and that improvement should be made on the education of doctors and the regional disparities of presence of doctors as mid to long term goals.
 In the Finance and Monetary Committee, Makiyama presented one idea --- that is to offer tax benefits to doctors belonging to departments under scarcity.  When we were an opposing party, this idea had been ignored.  However, after the power shift to DPJ, this was actualized by way of 2010 Revision of Medical Service Fee.
 One thing is to start from what is actually possible to do.  Hiroe Makiyama’s challenges continue.

 

Protecting Household Budget from Increasing cost of Imported Flour
Actualized in April 2009

(Cost of Imported Flour controlled by the government is decreased by 20%)
“Cup Noodles are 400 yen.”  When Prime Minister Aso replied to Makiyama’s question, every mass media aired this response.  The main purpose of the question was to inquire “whether the government could decrease the cost of flour which the government controls. “  She asked this because if this could be actualized, it would certainly affect the lives of people.

 

Space for Posters Needed!

Space for Posters Needed!

It will be greatly appreciated if you will help us spread the word about Hiroe Makiyama and her policies by providing us with space to put up her posters. Those who are willing to place posters on the outside wall, fences, and parking spaces of either your home or company, please contacts us at the address or phone number witten below. Thank you.  

 

2nd Floor Sun Building, Tokiwacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi 231-0014

Telephone: 045-226-2393 

Hiroe Makiyama’s Policy

☆ To improve and stabilize environment for child bearing and upbringing.
- Distribution of Child Support for each child until junior high school graduation.
- Tuition exemption until high school graduation to reduce educational expenses.
- Increase percentage of GDP allotted to education by 1.5 times that of the present.
- To eliminate out-of-pocket cost for child bearing and ensure insurance coverage for  fertility treatment. 
- Strengthen pediatric care. Total healthcare coverage until elementary school graduation.
- Zero-waiting list for childcare center. To improve childcare centers by reflecting users’ needs.
- Fully develop childcare centers for sick children to support working mothers.


☆ Correction of disparities and creation of a fair society.
- Correction of disparities in lifestyles, employment and medical treatments.
- Correction of tax system from “Collecting from those who are easy to collect” to “Collecting from those who can afford”.
- Eliminating unjustifiable disparities between part-time workers and full-time workers.


☆ Protect the world’s environment and contribute to peace.
- Promoting and developing carbon dioxide excretion technology. Promoting natural energy source.
- Raising food self-sufficiency ratio. Simultaneously securing food safety.


☆ Making Kanagawa a lively place!
- Actualize the implementation of “The Kanagawa Outlet Plan” to stimulate the Kanagawa economy.
- Strengthen port functions for Yokohama and Kawasaki to stimulate the Kanagawa economy.
- Continue working on issues such as noise problems which relate to military bases stationed in Kanagawa.

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☆Recent Diet Statements

Health, Labour and Welfare Committee (presentation on 27 October 2011 )

 

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<27 December presentation to the Budget Parliamentary Committee by Makiyama Hiroe>

 

Committee Chairman Ishii Hajime: On the agenda is an investigation of the execution of the budget, and we will also focus on the Noda Cabinet’s essential posture towards political ethics. First up is Makiyama Hiroe.

 

Democratic Party of Japan, House of Councilors, Makiyama Hiroe:

 

The high yen on the back of the bad economy and severe fiscal situation the government is in, has made it even more difficult for Japan to deal with the earthquake and other natural disasters. In 2007 I was elected to the House of Councilors and have since devoted myself to the causes of employment stability, enhancing the competitiveness of our harbors, ports, and airports, reform of the taxation of contributions, and supporting child-raising in Japan. In many different fields we have a tight budget from within which to work. Also, on top of the needed reconstruction assistance, medical, nursing/caregiving, education, forestry, farming, and fishing industries all suffered from a lack of sufficient human resources even before the recent disastrous events. These are the areas that we need to address even while we attempt to solve the difficult fiscal situation the government is in. Every member of the Diet needs to demonstrate to the public that the use of tax money is justified and appropriate and value for money. In 2007 we made the declaration of all political contributions of 1 yen or more mandatory by passing a new law. This has brought greater transparency to political funding and reinforced the importance of being transparent in the mind of politicians.

 

1) In regards to ‘money and politics,’ I would like to ask the Prime Minister his thoughts about making all political contribution publicly in the context of recent developments.

 

Prime Minister Noda:         

 

I was first elected in 1993 and supported the political reform ideals of the 1994 Hosokawa Cabinet.  I wanted to create a culture of political participation by individuals through individual donations and financial support for party politics. Based on this, the current DPJ looked towards banning contributions from companies and political organizations and we have attempted to put together a law that would do this. We would like to continue to push forward this reform to the political funding system. 、In regards to making public all expenditures over 1 yen, I have served on the Political Reform Council within the DPJ and we were involved in the creation of that law, however I would like to further increase the transparency of politics and money in Japan.

 

Makiyama Hiroe: Next I would like to ask about the lodging for public officials.

 

2) In Saitama prefecture the Asaka complex for public officials has had its funds frozen for five years. Is this going to continue for the foreseeable future? Also, yesterday details about the plan to build housing for public officials – I wonder if someone could elaborate on the particulars of that plan?

 

Minister of State Azumi Jun

Already in this committee in regards to the Asaka lodging complex we received a great amount of criticism. This is why instead of freezing the funds we have decided to suspend the program. Furthermore, in receiving the instructions from the Prime Minister we are going to look at the way public official lodging is handled and look to radically overhaul the system. Vice-Minister Fujita is in the process of working with the Finance Ministry to discuss with the other ministries about how to do this.
 We have increased the reductions of all lodging from 15% to 25% with a view to abolishing the system. This has long been a beneficial privilege since the end of World War II, however it is time that we put an end to at least further building of complexes for public officials.
 Nevertheless, SDF officers and coast guard employees and others with crisis response responsibilities will still be able to benefit from this, however while at the same time the deteriorating condition we need to consider raising the rent to pay for maintenance and eventually these complexes should be self-managed and not reliant on government funding.
 In regards to the 2400 buildings in total like this, we have a paper that details the schemes that will be abolished and the conditions for doing so and if we implement this in the specified way we feel we can get the understanding of those who will be affected by these changes.

 

Makiyama Hiroe I would like to ask a question in regards to the budget screening process and I participated in the second round of screening. I worked as hard as I could on the process however I found the amount of detail intimidating and hard to comprehend. Also as previously said by Ren Ho, there is the problem of “Zombie” programs, where once a program has been cut during the screening process, it rises again in another form and under another name elsewhere in the bureaucracy.  Having experienced this myself, I would like to ask how the next round’s concept will differ from previous times.

Minister of State Ren Ho We are looking at thoroughly going through each and every administrative project in order to get rid of inefficiency and waste and to ensure tax money is being used appropriately and continue to do in a public way. Each ministry is also internalizing this approach and we hope to be following up with them in due course.
On the other hand, I took on the role of the Minister in charge of administrative reform in order to push forward the budget screening process although this was about more than each individual project, but to look at the wide ranger policy objectives and in regards to what the various systems are designed to achieve, and related countermeasures. We intend to push this aspect of the process forward in next year’s budget. In the meantime we are working with the different government organizations and proposals for systemic reform and we would like to coordinate these next year into a integrated government approach to administrative reform and we would like to ask for everyone’s understanding while this process is being undertaken.

 

Makiyama Hiroe: I am sure, as just stated by the Minister, the reception of proposals and consideration by each agency and ministry will progress accordingly, but I want to make sure that there is appropriate follow up in the administrative reform committee to ensure the process is transparent.

 

Next, in regards to harmful misinformation around the Fukushima nuclear incident caused by the East Japan Earthquake, and the related substantial reduction of economic activity, we have noticed a considerable reduction in the numbers of tourist numbers to Japan, as well as the purchase of Japanese food products and consumer goods. I want to draw attention to ways to reinvigorate these particular sectors.

 

In this regard, as Japan’s international economic competitiveness in relative terms decreases it becomes all the more important to increase Japan’s soft power based on the expression of cultural distinctiveness. I believe the ‘Cool Japan’ strategy to promote cultural interaction and awareness should involve a clear and concrete plan being set out to promote Japan’s distinctive intellectual, fashion, artistic and cultural contents, as well as regional products and tourism.

 

International interactions and exchanges contribute to Japan’s security and to global culture as well, and therefore Japan’s appeal to the outside world, and the internationalization of Japanese society, are very important considerations.

 

The West, as well as China and Korea all have a proactive cultural strategy and are promoting it overseas. Governments supporting language schools overseas to promote the home culture is also not an uncommon occurrence. Japan’s interaction with the international community cannot be said to be on this kind of scale and the budget and focus of the government on the cultural strategy is considerably weaker in Japan than in other countries. Japan’s image as a nation with a distinct culture is ultimately connected to strengthening the image of it as a nation of culture as well as an economically prosperous one, and Japan should endeavor to improve its international competitiveness and economic growth by promoting its cultural products overseas.

 

These years of continuous economic stagnation, and the disasters of this year and the need for Japan to recover, have made it hard to think about these kinds of strategies. But it is precisely because of the urgency of these events that we need to invest public funds in recovery so we can meet the challenges around Japan’s image and its connection to the global society and economy. Perhaps in the short-term the investment in a “contents” strategy based on “Cool Japan” may not seem to pay off, however, precisely because we are in the current situation we are we need to not become too inward focused. We need to prepare in the long-term to reaffirm not only Japan’s economic importance but its cultural presence on the global stage, including its soft power – I sincerely believe this will also ultimately add to Japan’s security and economic performance.

 

I want to discuss each topic in order.

 

First I want to talk about tourism. Foreigners who come to Japan have reduced greatly due to recent events as the below panel shows.

 

1st Panel (Movements in the number of foreigner tourists in Japan)

 

If you look at this panel you can probably imagine that a lot of the decrease in number of foreign tourists is due to the high yen price. However, if we look at March in particular we see that there was a massive decrease of 50.3% (353,000) in foreign tourist numbers compared to the previous year. In April, we only had 62.5% (296,000) of the previous year’s visitors. That said by October we see the numbers recovering to only being about 15.3% down on the previous year.

 

In order to increase the speed of recovery, and to reclaim the lost economic activity from the disaster, we need to make our tourist spots considerably more attractive. I want to talk about ways we can turn Japan into an attractive international location for making films and television, and thereby help the nation in other areas as well by promoting its image overseas.

 

In recent years tourism to Korea, Korean food, and Korean pop culture idols has seen a large increase of interest in Japan, due in large part to the success of the popular television drama “Winter Sonata.” I believe Japan has many charming and distinctive sights to put on display much like Winter Sonata did for Korea. Japan could certainly become an attractive film location for the benefit of the whole nation. Please look at the next panel:

 

If you look at this it is quite clear when comparing 2003, when Winter Sonata came out, and 2010, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Japanese going to Korea, from 1.8 million to 3.2 million per year. If we look at a Japanese example, of an admittedly smaller scale, a successful Chinese production called “If you are the one,” (in Japanese neratta koi no otoshikata) which was filmed in Hokkaido, saw tourism to that area increase from 100,000 to 300,000 in the space of 2 to 3 years – an increase of 3 times.

 

In the early twentieth century there was a common saying in the US and Hollywood that “trade follows the film.” Hollywood was not a complete accident and the US government provided assistance recognizing that US culture and lifestyle was attractive, and this could be promoted through film, which in turn would have a positive impact on the US’ trade and related industries.

 

Please look at the next panel.

 

In Japan, when there is an international collaboration, you can receive up to 20% subsidy on the costs of production. However this is limited to 2 million US dollars. Recently there have been five productions which have qualified for this subsidy. In addition there is the “screen tourism project,” which focuses on movies televised outside of Japan, and provides assistance or subsidies – each production can receive up to 50,000 US dollars subsidy on expenses.

 

In Korea, they have an international collaboration program where films can receive a 50% deduction of their expenses up to a total of 160,000 US dollars.

 

In addition, support on the film location site is available for the government if a film is made in the Pusan area. Specifically, the government provides dedicated lodging and transportation, access to local CG facilities which are in abundance in Pusan. As well as providing assistance with identifying appropriate locations for filming, and coordinating with fire and police services, the government facilitates the processes around the use of roads etc for film purposes. Due to this Pusan has greatly benefitted from the enhancement of its image through having many productions being filmed in the area – it is also estimated to have brought an additional $40 million into the local economy.

 

France and Canada use a tax deduction system to support these industries. In France 20% of the wages and equipment costs included in the overall expenses can be deducted from the corporate tax rate, up to about $5 millon US. Again in France, Versaille Palace is made available for film production in order to promote France even though Versailles is an important cultural property.

In Canada if hiring local workers a tax credit of 16% of labor costs is available. Here there is no maximum amount. New Zealand has a 15% cash back system on production costs which has enabled big-budget titles to be filmed in New Zealand.

In regards to the NZ system for example, unlike getting tax credits after income has been earned, this kind of cash back offer on upfront costs being made available is prior to income being earned is a very significant incentive for film companies. Managing financial risk is of great importance for companies making big budget full featured films. It is not written on this panel but in the NZ case the conditions of assistance provided by the government enabled the government to dictate some of the elements of the film that would be beneficial to the nation. For example if stages, the lead actors, and other elements enhanced the telling of NZ’s cultural history, displayed its natural features, or New Zealand actors were used, then the films would get points for each beneficial element. A production would need 20 points to be eligible for the cash back subsidy, thereby allowing the New Zealand government to exercise a soft influence over production values.

 
Therefore production companies, using the world as its stage, engage in forum shopping for films and drama, and if we want them to be filmed in Japan then I believe we need to address the incentives provided and overall strategy, which greatly lags behind other nations.

 

4) Within this context, Sapporo City in Hokkaido, taking advantage of the boom effect of previously mentioned movie, "If you are the one," has been identified as a “contents zone.”  Like the example of South Korea earlier they have set up a one stop referral facility to deal with the use of roads and other regulatory issues that may arise from filming.

 

Estimates have it that Sapporo in 2015 will benefit 144 million US dollars due to such a location based filming strategy in terms of economic effects. It will attract further film production and along with those who view the content, it is forecasted that 1.15 million foreign visitors in Sapporo will come in 2015.

5) I would like to ask Minister in Charge of Regional Rejuvenation Kawabata if there are any other plans to create special “contents zones?”

 

Minister of State Kawabata
 Movie promotion and tourist activities having significant economic impact is something of great interest that should be looked into more, however we are currently looking at a number of applications for special zone status and various ideas from different regions including the kinds of contents zones such as Sapporo enjoys. In terms of the process, from October to November the proposals are evaluated and scored, and then at the current time we are finishing the hearings on these proposals. Soon after these hearings, where the Hokkaido proposal has made it to so far, we will make a decision on the basis of the available information from the reports and hearing which is where we are heading to next.

 

Makiyama Hiroe:As my constituency is Kanagawa Prefecture, there are many red brick warehouse, for example in Yokohama, and many old buildings remain in the harbor. We have indeed been shooting dramas there. As well as Sapporo I hope for the greater utilization of the diverse local cultural resources and attractions around the country, including Okinawa.

 

Please look at the next panel on the Economic impact of movie production

 

This shows the economic impact of movie production – the impact was higher in NZ but still in both NZ and Japan’s case they were significant. By attracting film production local employment will rise as will the use and purchase of goods, as well as the use of accommodation and transportation. Various other economic effects can be expected. This is why extending economic and financial assistance to foreign companies is advantageous.

 

In New Zealand after the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was a 40 percent increase in tourist numbers and according to a questionnaire at least 10% of all tourists' visit to New Zealand were in some way influenced by the Lord of the Rings,

 

Japan needs to provide locations and facilities for shooting and editing in one place to compete as a film location destination and we need to make it as streamlined as possible.  In the case of New Zealand I have already discussed the "The Last Samurai" also shot in New Zealand, but now next month another film about Japan that could easily have been shot in Japan, "Emperor," which will be a big Hollywood feature, will also be shot in New Zealand. These are clear lost business opportunities. I would like to ask Minister of MEXT Nakagawa Masaharu if there are any additional efforts in this regard being undertaken.

 

Minister of State Nakagawa 

I think you have provided us with some very interesting information and insights.
 While the film production industry in Japan is generally self-supporting with some government assistance, unfortunately we don’t have quite the same level of strategy, for example in setting up one stop shops or offering the kinds of incentives you have outlined, in approaching the promotion of this industry. However I think it is perhaps the time to start talking about this and I want to further look into this from now on.

 

Makiyama Hiroe:Currently, the damage to tourism from Japan’s triple disaster due to damaging misinformation about Japan’s safety has greatly reduced the shipment of goods made in Japan.  Of course there have been other attempts to deal with the economic fallout but we need to expand our focus. The market size of Japan's contents industry is currently about 12 trillion yen, accounting for 2.2% of GDP in Japan.

 

6) I would like to ask PM Noda about whether there is any determined effort to set up a unified contents strategy for Japan.

 

Prime Minister Noda

Japan’s contents generally have a good reputation overseas. I am also aware of the need for Japan to pursue a new and more proactive approach to economic growth. Last June we devised a new economic growth strategy of which a strategy to turn Japan into a powerful players in the global contents industry was one part, so there are some concrete plans to do this. At this year’s October Tokyo film festival about 120,000 people viewed films including myself. I felt very enthused by this and it reaffirmed my belief in the need to propel a contents strategy for Japan. Mentioned earlier was the specific example of Tazawako… as well as the Sapporo example – based on these insights I would like to take the idea forward.
 

 

Makiyama Hiroe: Previously I was the legal representative for a film company in Japan and I have to say that it was difficult to coordinate a contents strategy because the responsibilities for different aspects of the contents were and are scattered between the ministries and the set up is not particularly rational.

 

According to my information Korea in 2009, in order to support the efficient development and promotion of cultural industries,   combined into a single agency six institutions which now come under "Content Agency of Korea (KOCCA).” This agency engages in the formulation of policies pertaining to the promotion of the content industry, supports various aspects of the content policy and is collectively responsible for the promotion of overseas business operations and human resources support.

 

While I understand that given the current fiscal environment it might be hard to justify a new government agency, but as the earlier panels show there are considerable short-term and long-term benefits to be had from a rational and aggressive unified and integrated contents agency.

 

7) Just to ask one more time about the issue of attracting tourists, Minister of Transport Matsubara, while recognizing that the Visit Japan program has been in operation since 2003, after the earthquake is there anything more specific, that, you are going to do to help Japan recover from the reduction in tourist numbers?

 

Minister of State Matsubara

In order to see a quick recovery of the numbers of foreigners coming to Japan the Tourism agency has been proactive in spreading messages to potential foreign consumers including through foreign reporters and tourist companies. In addition to this from October we have the Visit Japan promotion which is very proactive. In regards to foreign visitors in Japan, we are indeed saying a gradual reduction in the month by month comparative decreases, given that March and April figures were quite significantly down. We are working very hard through the third supplementary budget to attract back Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kongese and American visitors and have various promotions, as well as measures in place to reduce the number of international conferences being cancelled.  I think we all need to work together in order to promote Japan as an attractive place to vacation again.

As we are working towards full-scale recovery for Japan, we must be willing to do various things and not just focus on a singular course of action. While it may not be obvious to us Japanese, one thing that is particularly unique are Japanese onsens and the culture surrounding them. We should be promoting the various benefits of our natural hot springs to the world, especially those in the Tohoku region. Please look at this panel.

 

Here I have provided some details about the different purported properties of the onsens from the three prefectures affected by the disasters and my own prefecture, Kanagawa prefecture. Vice-Minister for the Environment Yokomitsu Katsuhiko, do you have any information about the properties of the onsens? Is information about their distinctive properties being actively promoted overseas?

Yokomitsu Katsuhiko:
Japan has since ancient times been a country and culture that loved onsens. Many types of Open-air baths are situated in naturally beautiful areas. In times of war generals believed that soaking in the waters would help rejuvenation and not only humans but animals have also enjoyed them, such as deer who are known to treat wounds this way. The medical properties of onsens is a new and thriving field in Japan.  Of course nowadays foreigners are also starting to have an appreciation for Japanese onsens. There are many claimed benefits in regards to entering onsens such as the effect on the skin, muscles, nerves and generally good for the body…

 

Someone remarks loudly

Ishii Hajime Chairman: Please be silent

 

Yokomitsu: it has these kinds of effects. It is claimed that the the aforementioned benefits seem to work in an integrated way and effects can be seen. The ministry of the environment is currently promoting information about the various effects of onsens after looking into the medical knowledge and also using traditional knowledge about the claimed effects. However the cultural and environmental attractions of onsens are also being promoted along with the health effects overseas.

Makiyama Hiroe: According to my information it seems that onsens are the third most reported reason for people visiting Japan. I think we should endeavor to further promote the charm and attractiveness of Japan’s natural hot springs.

 

Next, in regards to using Japan’s culture as a tourism resource, one pillar could be to use foreign embassies to promote this aspect more aggressively.

 

On the one year anniversary of the disaster, I understand that there will be simultaneous ceremonies held in all of the Japanese embassies around the world. We need to use this as an opportunity to put to rest much of the harmful misinformation about Japan and its products. We should strive to have on display Japanese consumer and food products, promote Japanese tourism, and invite various trade focused companies, travel companies and various media to view what Japan has to offer. 

We also should bear in mind, as can be seen on this panel, that shopping was one of the key reasons that foreigners came to Japan up until the disaster– number two ahead of onsens, according to JNTO. Foreigner visitors in Japan, or Japanese who are temporarily returning home, if purchasing non-consumable items valued more than 10,000 yen at one time are able to get a consumption tax rebate of 5% from certain certified shops in Japan if they go through the proper procedures at the shop or at the airport.  The fact of the matter is that many foreigners and many merchants are also unaware of these possibilities and if more shops applied for this status, and more foreigners were made aware of those shops, then it could have considerable appeal to foreign tourists.

 

As can be seen in this panel food products and so forth are not included in what tourists can purchase to get a rebate. Nevertheless, they present the goods they want to buy, present their passport, then the purchaser will sign the claim form. And when they leave, if you present the required documents to the customs counter you can receive the rebate. I feel this is a good incentive to bring foreigners to Japan in order to purchase a considerable amount of Japanese goods.

 

10) I would like to ask Assistant Director Okamoto of the National Tax Agency how many places have successfully applied for and received this “duty-free shop” status. How difficult is it to get this status and what kinds of processes must a shop undergo in order to gain this status.

 

Assistant Director Okamoto of the National Tax Agency


By 2011 April throughout the whole country there was 3781 places authorized. During the previous year 930 new applications were given permission and we expect this tendency to increase.、
 Those who are interested in gaining this status apply to the authority who has jurisidiction  over that industry within the tax agency. If at the time of working out their general tax liabilities including consumption tax if there are no outstanding circumstances or additional information required, generally speaking they can receive permission to register as a duty free shop – it is in general not too difficult.  

 

Makiyama Hiroe: I certainly wish for more shops to take advantage of this opportunity in order to raise the attractiveness of tourism, especially in the most affected areas in Japan in these hard times.

 

Furthermore, as English is the most commonly used language worldwide, at the very least we should try to make it easier for foreigners by providing more road signs and guidance in English language. I would like to ask Vice-Minister Matsubara of Land Transport if there are any efforts being undertaken. to make it easier for foreigners to come and spend time in Japan.  

 

Another major problem is the damage done to Japanese food from misinformation. 9 months on there is great anxiety about whether school lunches in Fukushima are fine, or whether food in general in Japan is ok, especially among foreigners who might want to come to Japan.  In regards to how to deal with this anxiety, the government has distributed all together 74 devices to detect radioactive material. I want to ask if the government plans to distribute more devices to places that need them to alleviate the fear. I also want to ask Minister of Consumer Affairs Yamaoka if the local municipalities are using the devices in the appropriate way to do this.

 

Chairman Ishii: Who is the question directed at?


Makiyama Hiroe: The Minister in charge of Consumer Affairs


Minister in charge of Consumer Affairs Yamaoka Kenji


In each municipality some collects news from various consumers and a more thorough inspection is done. Specifically from the city we get requests to investigate food products and lunches and the basic ingredients as well as wells as home consumables- we also investigate the things that we eat. I will give a more specific explanation. For example in Fukushima preferecture, there is obviously great concern about the products affected by radiation from Fukushima dai-ichi and on the 24th of this month the residents started to take measurements of the home grown vegetables that had been growing in the meantime.

 

Makiyama Hiroe: Next I would like to enquire about the relative importance of English language education. In order to make Japan an attractive place for tourism and cultural exchange opportunities obviously English language is important. Recently for example we have talked about the TPP and the importance of multilateral coordination between ourselves and other countries. The IT revolution and globalization cannot be stopped and Japanese industry and culture needs to be able to deal with the changes that will come from these two features of the modern world. However in Japan there are still significant limitations in terms of language ability and Japan remains difficult for foreign business people and tourists to negotiate. For Japan’s future, we should do our best to think from the point of view of visitors and make at least business and tourism as easy as possible to conduct. Therefore I next want to talk about English education.

 

When our children become adults in the future, I want them to have the same level of abilities as children from other countries in the area that are currently investing in English education. As it is the language of international interaction, they need to have the same level of exposure to English as others to remain competitive globally. As a mother myself I am often worried that my children may get left behind global trends and I have been watching what other countries have been doing in regards to English education. If we do not find a good way to improve English teaching at public schools then a large gap in our society will develop between those who have the money to invest in external tuition. At the very least everyone should start their education with the same opportunities to learn this important language. I asked MEXT about the situation for English tuition in other countries.

 

Please look at this panel:

 

As you can see in Singapore, all subjects aside from Chinese, Malay, or Tamil language classes are taught in English. From kindergarten they practice role playing and pronunciation drills as well as reading and writing.

 

While it is a country with limited and vulnerable borders, and only with 5 million people, it has positioned itself as a hub for air travel, freight transport, as well as for finance and business. It has even attracted the attention of Yale University and others to establish schools in Singapore and thus has become an educational hub as well. Our next door neighbor, Korea, has also started English tuition from the 3rd grade of Elementary school. Korea in particular has created a vision where all of its high school graduates can conduct communication in English especially speaking and writing.

 

Japan from now on looks to be trying to implement English education from the fifth grade, however I am worried about whether we can truly compete with the world just by doing this.

 

For children the best time for listening skills and pronunciation to be developed with little difficulty is actually at the time they are learning their mother tongue and if they learnt at the same time it would be much easier. According to a newspaper article Singaporean former leader Lee Kuan Yew has recently said that the make or break period for becoming bilingual is right after birth.

 

Prime Minister, I would like to ask whether you also believe this to be the case.

 

Prime Minister Noda: In the period of globalization, as crucial weapons ICT and English language are certainly important and therefore education in both is very important. I am deeply aware and interested in this problem. Previously you showed a little of your excellent ability to speak English, however for myself I had to admit than we I have to speak English I become very quiet.
Sometimes when doing practice tests and so forth I was able to get quite good grades and I was actually in the higher levels in the Chiba district. I think it was a fluke however. Nevertheless I came to like English. The problem was that when I went overseas during my school years even entering and ordering in a restaurant was a difficult experience. I was spoken to by a waitress in a dress and I did not understand. I thought maybe she was saying something about her dress, but it turns out that I was not even able to understand a conversation about dressing. Even after finishing our compulsory education we Japanese still have to go to language schools, the so-called “station-front overseas exchanges.” I think is a problem. Because of all this and my own experience of English tuition, I basically agree with the principle of getting Japanese children exposed to English language earlier, including at the elementary school level.

 

Makiyama Hiroe: In order to maintain our international competitiveness and avoid getting behind other nations, we also need to concentrate on IT education as well. In Korea for example, by 2014 all elementary school children, and then in 2015 all secondary school children, will have digital text books distributed.

 

In the classroom each and every child is able to access and use a personal computer of some kind. Effectively the text book is digitalized. And students can directly access and search out information for themselves. This is how Korea is thinking about the digital classroom and its future.

 

In the UK there is a move to having smart boards or interactive whiteboards in the classrooms, especially in the 7th to 9th grade, and there will be at least two classes a week on IT skills.

 

In Portugal, from grade 1 to grade 4, based on parents’ income level, students are given the opportunity to purchase cheap netbooks for use in classrooms. In Singapore, already 30 percent of the curriculum is ICT based. In Australia there is movement to provide access to a computer for everyone in the 9th to the 12th grade range.

 

Last year the Japanese government’s IT strategy group designated 2020 as the year that every student would have access to a computer. With all due respect, with Korea implementing this in elementary school by 2014, and in much more comprehensive way with digital textbooks and a digital classroom, Japan will be far behind by that time. Essentially by the time the current group of elementary school students graduate there will be a massive gap in skills between Korean and Japan.

 

Like with the ability to interact in English, this will have a significant impact upon whether Japan remains internationally competitive. If Japan does not turn up to the internationalization start line soon, then there is a chance young Japanese will be up to six cycles behind their Korean counterparts. Japan must look at what other countries are doing in the IT and education fields as well as in the English teaching fields. Of course we have to make sure that students learn Japanese language properly, and are not accessing destructive or improper websites while having access to the internet at school, however these are dangers than can be managed.

 

Prime Minister, since we are in the middle of debating Japan’s entry into the TPP, I want Japanese children to be prepared for interacting within international society through having the appropriate English and IT skills, and I also want Japan to focus on making the country easier for businessmen and tourists that Japan needs to attract to come to our country. 

 

Chairman Ishii: Minister Nakagawa would like to have a word:

 

Nakakawa Minister of State: You received an answer from me before. Nevertheless, in regards to ICT, Japan as a population is very engaged in ICT and technology. And while it is likely that digital textbooks and resources could be useful we would need to conduct experimental trials in order to determine the effectiveness and then we can move forward.
In regards to language, and the test-based English tuition and awareness of this issue in Japan, I feel it is a problem of not being able to understand pronunciation due to insufficient exposure at a young age. There is much discussion about this but for now 5th and 6th grade is where we have decided to expose the children for the time being.

 

Makiyama Hiroe: We need to work towards rebuilding Japan’s reputation, hurt by the misinformation after 3/11. We need to deal with the globalization, a force than cannot be stopped. I hope the government will take action to implement the kinds of activities and policies that I have suggested in my discussion today.

 

Health, Labour and Welfare committee (27 October, 2011)

Member of the House of Councillors, Hiroe Makiyama:

While, as you are aware, there is a severe employment situation for young people, there is also currently a lack of registered nurses, caregivers and specialist doctors such as gynaecologists and obstetricians, paediatricians and emergency department physicians.

 

I am extremely concerned about how we remedy the shortages in each of these areas and whether it will be enough. I would like to ask about your consideration of measures and the measures that are already in place to ensure these human resources and to improve their employment terms and conditions such as wages.

 

Minister of State (Youko Komiyama):  

First, on the matter of measures to ensure sufficient nursing staff, we are currently addressing measures to promote training through the provision of subsidies for operational expenses to nursing schools and training schools, measures to promote retention of nurses through the provision of assistance for employee childcare in hospitals, measures to provide a “nurse bank” of information about job offers and applications, and support for re-employment such as job placement assistance.

 

Further, based on a report put together by a Ministry level project team on improving the working environment for nurses, we are also continuing to set up and run associations through the participation of those involved in district health matters at a prefectural level.

 

In addition, on the issue of policies to ensure sufficient doctors, we are increasing the fixed enrolment numbers at medical schools with some conditions attached.  That is, most of those who have enrolled in medical schools through these increased quotas (or ‘regional quota’) are required to practice medicine in the future within prefectures where their medical schools are, or to practice either gynaecology/obstetrics, paediatrics or emergency medicine to alleviate the short supply of doctors in these fields of medicine and in provincial areas. We are also conducting a review of medical fees to set preferential remuneration for emergency services, obstetrics and paediatrics, and are providing financial assistance towards allowances paid to employed doctors responsible for emergency medicine, childbirth and neonatal care.

 

Also, with respect to improving conditions for care workers for the elderly, in fiscal 2009 we raised care giving benefits by three per cent, an increase of around 9,000 yen per month.  We also considerably raised the subsidies to improve work conditions of caregivers from October 2009.  As a result, there is an increase in caregiver wages on average by 15,000 yen per month.  I believe the effects of the combined improved conditions of around 24,000 yen per month for caregivers are already being felt.  I would like to continue to put effort into improving these conditions in fiscal 2012 and beyond.

 

Hiroe Makiyama:

Thank you.

As I mentioned just before, currently there are not enough caregivers for the elderly. To try and resolve this I of course believe we need to attempt to increase wages. However, during this time of fiscal restraint, I believe that although we have to think about increasing wages, at the same time it is also essential to think about other options.

 

There are two methods in which caregivers can gain their qualifications. They can either receive their qualifications by graduating from a care giving training school, or after three years of work experience by passing an exam. Given this, I wonder about a person with no qualifications who is providing care for their parents in their actual home being able to take their parents to a nursing facility and at that care facility take care of not only their own parents but others’ who have been admitted. In other words, my proposal would enable those providing care for their parents to gain employment in care giving facilities and at the same time the parents receiving care would also be admitted into that same facility.

 

In this way, if the individual passes the examination after three years of practical training, then they could receive the qualification as a certified care worker. As an additional outcome, the number of certified care workers would increase. Three years of practical work experience providing care in one’s home is not recognised and there is absolutely no remuneration received. Friends of mine who would like to work outside of the home are under pressure to provide care for their parents and therefore for the most part cannot get a job away from home. Further, even if they provided care in their own homes, it would not lead to any career advancement. I have many friends that are suffering from this same problem.

 

Thus, among those currently providing care in their homes, I wonder whether the establishment of options to enable them to work as a registered caregiver’s assistant if they wanted to could go in some way towards fixing the problem of our lack of registered caregivers. What do you think of this idea? Of course I understand that trying to bring this into effect will necessitate clearing various conditions, but what are your thoughts on this idea?

 

Minister of State (Youko Komiyama):

As there is no doubt that the numbers of elderly will increase, we have to ensure all the more that there are high quality, capable caregivers. I consider this an essential topic for discussion. On the one hand, there is a reason for these caregivers to have specialist qualifications. In order to obtain these qualifications, you propose that family members providing care in their own homes should be able to take their parents to a care facility where they themselves can work. However, the aim to require work experience for qualifications to become a registered caregiver is to obtain specialist knowledge and skills so that he/she can provide care not only to family members, but, of course, to a large number of others within the caregiving facility. The place of work is determined in accordance with an employment contract, so I think it would be considerably difficult to create, as some sort of job placement mechanism, a system whereby one could work at the same facility as where their parents are placed. So although I think your proposed system is an idea, I also think that there would be a considerable number of difficulties in creating such a mechanism.

 

On the other hand, I believe that measures that encourage making the most of people with experience of caring for their families as well as the entry of these people into the field of care giving are important. We are holding briefing sessions to show (those interested in becoming a care worker) how rewarding work as a caregiver can be, we are implementing work place experience in order to be familiar with actual care work, and we are even designating a care giving awareness day. I think that it is important to create momentum, through diverse dissemination and activities that raise awareness, to encourage people to enter the care giving industry and to find a job within nursing facilities.

 

Further, there are various public vocational training programmes to foster talented individuals, which include job training for displaced workers.  Within that scheme, I am keen to take measures to maintain a stable, high level of talented caregivers.

 

Hiroe Makiyama:

Of course, I am not talking about taking one’s parents to a facility and looking after only them, what I mean is that they would also carry out a range of work and would obtain knowledge and experience necessary for a registered caregiver’s qualifications and by gaining the same sort of experience that as others who receive care giving qualifications, they too could obtain the qualifications. I would appreciate it if you would take up this issue for consideration.

 

I would now like to move on to my next question.

 

In the 11 March 2009 Budget Committee I asked a question regarding day care for sick children. In my investigation at that time, there were only 745 places in the whole country that provided day care for sick children. By contrast, the overall number of standard day care centres was 23,000, an overwhelming number compared to the small number of day care centres for sick children. There is an extremely low ratio of day care centres for sick children when compared to standard day care centres - as few as one to every 30 standard day care centres. In particular, as you know, because infants frequently get sick, in order to make it easier for parents to work while their children are being looked after, I insisted that we have to think of day care centres for sick children and for those recovering from illness as a set together with standard day care centres.

 

At that time, the Minister in charge of Japan’s declining birth rate responded that the Government was aiming to establish 1500 day care facilities across Japan for sick children and for children recovering from illness by 2009 and that they were working hard to expand on those plans. What is the current state of this?      

 

Parliamentary Secretary (Kazue Fujita):

I will respond to your question regarding day care centres for sick children and for those recovering from an illness.

 

I understand that there are extremely important plans to establish an environment that provides temporary day care instead of guardians, through safe and secure systems. Regarding your inquiry into the current number of facilities, in fiscal 2010 the number will reach 1356 facilities. As the Committee Member just said, the goal of 1500 facilities has not been reached, however the total number of people that attended was 390,000.

 

In addition, regarding implementation of day care for sick children and children recovering from illness from the January 2010 Cabinet Decision on a Vision for Children and Parenting, we have established a target figure for the number of attending children to be 2,000,000 in fiscal 2014. To prepare for this, a new system of “children and parenting” is currently being considered by the Government and within this we are proceeding to consider increasing the number and improving the quality of childcare facilities.

 

Hiroe Makiyama:

Thank you. With respect to the insufficient number of nurses and paediatricians I just mentioned, isn’t the lack of nursery teachers and nurses, as well as paediatricians the reason that childcare facilities for sick children will not increase?

 

Parliamentary Secretary (Kazue Fujita):

You are correct. There are also very big changes from time to time in the number of children attending day care centres for sick children and for children recovering from an illness. Given this trend, securing the likes of necessary staff and nurses has become the issue to be addressed. I recognise this aspect and will strive to discuss this matter further and promote policy for securing suitable talent in order to satisfy the needs of childcare.

 

Hiroe Makiyama:

As I expected, I think the current ratio of childcare facilities for sick children to day care centres is still insufficient and there are many day care centres with the rule that, if a child has a fever of over 37.5 degrees, the guardian must pick them up from day care. Some day care centres even ask parents to come and collect their children if their temperature is over 37 degrees. In that situation, it can be assumed that parents would naturally have to look after their children if they are seriously ill, but if this can be balanced with a mechanism to enable the transfer of children to day care facilities for those with (minor) sicknesses, I think that parents would then feel comfortable about continuing to work.

 

If the current situation remains, particularly as it gets colder, many children will get fevers for several days in the cold winter months and working parents will have to take time off work. If this is prolonged, work will unfortunately become very difficult to continue. When I asked the same question back in 2009, the Minister of declining birth rates at that time responded that “As an example, local governments have services that pick up and drop off children between day care and hospitals, others such as non-profit organisations are also offering day care services for sick children through a membership system. These sorts of groups are increasing.” But what are these existing local government services?  

 

Parliamentary Secretary (Kazue Fujita):

I believe that increasing the number of day care facilities put into use for children that are sick or recovering from a serious illness is an extremely important issue. Though various types of measures have been developed to deal with this, from fiscal 2009 through the Family Support Centre project, as you have mentioned, we added something called “strengthening emergency response for sick children” where day care facilities take responsibility of day care for children that are sick or recovering from a serious illness. This means that it has become possible to undertake a transportation service for children that are sick or recovering from illness. In addition, from this fiscal year, we have provided budget to bring into effect a visitation service whereby care providers such as nurses will visit the homes of guardians and provide temporary care there.

 

However, regarding this service which is not yet in existence, it is somewhat substantively difficult. While local governments start to grapple with it, because of varying circumstances there are issues to be worked through. So while we robustly go over these points once again, we are creating what is called a varied “menu” and I would like to strive to promote this childcare for the sick and those recovering from illness.

 

Hiroe Makiyama:

As has just been said, local councils run a Family Support Centre, and I myself have used their services in a number of municipalities. You say that there are currently transport services available, but actually it is hard to find a Family Support Centre that offers transfer services between care facilities, hospitals and day care for sick children.  In my view, it is difficult for local Family Support Centres to secure staff who are willing to deliver transport services.  There are still pick up and drop off services by walking a child hand-in-hand, but services to take a child by car are hardly found.  I understand that giving a ride to children involves various liability issues for staff, so local Family Support Centres usually do not offer driving services to transfer children. At the same time, it highlights the fact that many day care facilities for sick children are located at such a distance whereby it is necessary to drive.

 

In addition, I think there are many parents who believe they could manage without taking time off work if transport services were available. For these sorts of parents, there are what are called “parental taxis” (taxis approved for use by parents under a particular regime). In the plenary session on 12 June 2009, my colleague, Member Emiko Uematsu, asked what kind of support the government was planning in order to gain widespread adoption of the parental taxis. At that time, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare responded that he was expanding the budget for a child relief fund in the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget and that through this fund he was preparing a framework that could support regional and city councils to provide local communities with various parenting assistance schemes, which could include the use of parental taxis. 

 

I would like to ask about how this Child Relief Fund, which can be used to fund a parental taxi scheme, has been utilised.  In addition, I have heard that unfortunately the fund will be concluded this financial year. I would like to request that this fund be made available for use in the next fiscal year and beyond, and also that the fund be increased. I would be grateful if the Minister would make a determination on this request.

 

Minister of State (Youko Komiyama):

I am well aware of local councils using this Child Relief Fund to establish a range of childcare services, which, as you mentioned, include parental taxis.    

 

I understand that currently Akita, Yamagata and Gifu Prefectures are running a parental taxi scheme using the Child Relief Fund. In their schemes, financial assistance is provided to train parental taxi drivers, to purchase child safety seats for parental taxis, to pay for membership fees for a local association of parental taxis, and to purchase stickers to be put on parental taxis to indicate they assist parenting.      

 

The Child Relief Fund is also used for a range of purposes including preventing child abuse and for developing facilities of regular kindergartens to operate longer-hour day care services. Ideally, we would like to secure financial resources for the Fund as part of our Ministry’s general budget, but because the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare oversees a considerably wide range of projects, we are not able to include this Child Relief Fund in the Ministry’s routine work. That is why each year we run it as a one-off fund.

 

Given funds such as these usually run for one year, we make various efforts to continue them every year. Of those funds, we believe that the Child Relief Fund plays a truly important role, so we are keen to continue this project in the next fiscal year by securing necessary funds in the process of drawing up our budget plan.          

 

Hiroe Makiyama:

I would very much appreciate your efforts on that.

Currently, are there any government subsidies for the construction of day care centres for sick children?  If there are, are these existing subsidies recognized as sufficient?  In other words, do you think these subsidies are sufficient enough to raise a number of day care centres for sick children? Do you also subsidize such facilities’ day-to-day operations?    

 

Parliamentary Secretary (Kazue Fujita):

Day care facilities for sick children, hospitals and clinics are eligible to receive financial assistance through a government grant scheme to support the development of medical care facilities. Day care centres are also eligible to receive such subsidies through the Child Relief Fund when they wish to develop facilities to deliver day care services for sick children.  But, when it comes to actual operating funds, I understand that every entity faces a lot of difficulties in securing finances. For that reason, we are financially assisting their operating costs under the scheme to promote measures to support day care facilities for sick children and for children recovering from illness, which grants an annual sum of 2,400,000 yen per facility, plus additional funds according to the number of sick children that attend that facility.     

 

While we ensure relevant facilities are fully informed on these support schemes, following your question, we will carefully examine as to whether such government grants are sufficient enough and will review our measures accordingly.  

 

Hiroe Makiyama:

Thank you. In the 21 October 2010 Cabinet Committee, I asked a question regarding measures to promote re-employment of female medical and caregiving professionals such as doctors, nurses and caregivers who have been out of work for several years to have and take care of their children. I would appreciate if you could explain the current state of this, using specific figures and statistics. 

 

Unsworn witness (Yasuo Ohya):

I would like to respond to your question.

Regarding the support measures for female medical and caregiving professionals to be re-employed after a long interval, I would like to refer to the outcomes of our projects for fiscal 2010.

 

First of all, we run a support centre for female doctors and a central support centre for nurses, both of which provide support for their re-employment such as job placement assistance.  During fiscal 2010, 49 female doctors and 12,404 nurses obtained new jobs through our assistance.  Since we opened the support centre for female doctors in 2006, a total of 2,057 female doctors have been re-employed successfully.

 

In addition, we are carrying out a project to provide female doctors with job assistance by setting up employment consultancy offices in many prefectures.  These offices introduce female doctors to medical institutions that offer training programs for them to prepare for their return to work as well as provide assistance to such medical institutions.  Currently, such consultancy offices are up and running in 35 prefectures.  

 

Next, we are financially assisting 1,192 childcare facilities for hospital employees to encourage female doctors and nurses who are raising children to stay in their jobs and to support those who have already left their jobs to return.

 

In the area of caregiving for the elderly, we are holding re-training sessions in 34 prefectures for registered care workers who have left their jobs to help them go back to work.  To date, a total of 4,980 such registered caregivers have participated in our re-training sessions.

 

We are now requesting necessary funds to continue these efforts as part of our budget proposal for fiscal 2012 and are keen to make it happen.

 

By steadily implementing these projects I have just outlined, we will continue to make efforts to develop work environments that allow female medical and caregiving professionals to work without concern and to also make it easier for those who have left their jobs to return to work.              

  

Hiroe Makiyama:

Thank you.  As the Minister of State mentioned a ‘regional quota’ earlier, it is important to grant medical students scholarships under some conditions such as requiring them to work in specific regions in the future or to become a specialist doctor in certain fields of medicine.  However, it will still take several years for them to become a doctor.  In that regard, I would like to ask for your continuous efforts to make sure that experienced, capable, female medical professionals (who have been out of work to have children) are able to re-join the workforce as soon as they are ready.

 

As we have also discussed issues surrounding day cares for sick children, in some municipalities, it is extremely difficult for parents to get their children into public day care centres.  Every year, my electorate, Yokohama City, sees the largest number of children who are on waiting lists to attend public day care centres. That is a reality.  Even though parents mange to have their children attend day care, they often get sick in the winter, so we do need to think of day care for sick children as a set together with standard day care centres.

 

Lastly, I would like to conclude my remarks by requesting to resolve the disproportionality between the number of day care centres for sick children and that of standard day care centres.

 

Thank you for your attention.