The Tokyo metropolitan government likely will adopt stricter procedures from April in its certification of private nurseries, while keeping a closer eye on facilities that already are operating, it has been learned.
The current certification system–which has less stringent standards than those used by the national government–was established to encourage more corporations to enter the market.
The metropolitan government plans to reexamine the current criteria and confirm the financial health of operators before accepting applications. It also plans to scrutinize employee numbers to ensure that staff numbers are not overstated.
The metropolitan government’s certified day care facility system started in 2001 in a bid to reduce the number of infants on waiting lists. As a result, the number of day care facilities in the capital increased to about 430. The move attracted attention as a model case involving the relaxation of regulations.
However, misconduct by certain facilities came to light last year. A certified nursery in Nakano Ward closed suddenly due to financial difficulties, and a trio of scandals emerged in which the metropolitan government asked for subsidies to be returned due to false claims by facilities over staff numbers.
To prevent such misconduct, the metropolitan government plans to ask operators to submit financial reports for the previous three years during the early stages of the application procedure. Previously, such documentation was only required in the final stages of certification.
After a facility has opened, the government plans to inspect it within three months to confirm whether staff numbers tally with those claimed in the application.
In the past, initial inspections were usually conducted 18 months after a facility had opened. For the first time, inspectors will include a nursery teacher and a nutritionist.
At a metropolitan assembly last year, an assembly member reportedly pointed out that the cost of foodstuffs used at some certified day care facilities was extremely low. Therefore, the government also likely will step up its checks on the quality of the food served at such facilities.
Ministry OK’s controversial history text
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Education, Science and Technology Ministry on Thursday released details of two textbooks that passed its 2008 screening process, including a controversial history textbook.
The textbook in question was written by members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. The text, “Chugakko Shakai Rekishi” (Middle School Social Studies and History), is published by the Jiyu Sha publishing house.
The society switched publishers and resubmitted the textbook to the government for screening after their previous publisher, Fusosha Publishing Inc., declined to continue publishing their earlier textbook, “Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho” (New History Textbook), after it stirred up controversy over the historical perspective from which it depicted World War II.
According to ministry officials, the society’s first draft of the textbook said the Imperial Japanese Army “was unable to prevent improper killing and abuse” of prisoners of war and civilians during the war.
The ministry told the society it had to give an account of the serious damage and hardship Japan inflicted on other countries during the war. The sentence was later edited to say that Japan had “committed improper murders and abuse, and caused great damage.”
The society criticizes history textbooks used till now, saying they are based on a “masochistic” view of history.
Nearly 300 parts of the textbook have been singled out for correction, and all have been edited as part of the screening process, ministry officials said.
The first draft submitted this time was very similar to the one submitted for screening in the academic year 2004 and published by Fusosha. In terms of content and page layout, the new book is almost the same as the history textbook previously published by Fusosha. The new textbooks may be used in the next academic year if boards of education adopt them.
The reason only two applications were screened this year probably reflects a planned renewal of school textbooks under new teaching guidelines that will be implemented for middle schools in the 2012 academic year. This means many textbook publishing companies have put off their submissions for textbook screening until later.
Another textbook that passed the ministry’s screening is the high school text. “Seibutsu II” (Biology II), published by Tokyo Shoseki Co., used in high schools.
No textbooks failed the screening, ministry officials added.
(Apr. 10, 2009)
Only 9 percent of high school science teachers feel students enjoy class (Mainichi) A mere 9 percent of high school science teachers feel that a majority of their students enjoy their classes, the lowest rate compared to elementary and junior high school levels, a recent survey has discovered.
For Japanese Students, Boring Careers Are Looking Pretty Good (Time Apri 15) Heading en masse to new positions in Japan’s major corporations, fresh university graduates in black suits have become as common a sight in Tokyo as April’s cherry blossoms. But this year, things are different. According to a closely watched annual survey, the companies that were once synonymous with Japan Inc. – Toyota, Sony, Sharp and Canon – have lost their luster as potential employers. For those seeking secure jobs-for-life, students are instead looking to relatively low-risk industries such as railroads and public utilities. …
“… the top five dream employers? Central Japan Railway and East Japan Railway Co. rose to first and second place (up from 4th and 9th place last year). Japan Post — formerly the public office that the government began to privatize in 2007 — jumped 357 spots to rank 30th. Chubu Electric Power and Kansai Electric Power both gained more than 50 places each to rank in the top 50.
It’s not surprising that automakers and electronic companies are no longer as appealing as they once were. Toyota Motor, which has typically ranked in the survey’s top 10, will likely post its second straight operating loss in its 2010 fiscal year — right when the students polled by Recruit will be entering the workplace. The company is expected to report a loss of $4.9 billion when it announces its 2009 results on May 8. Last week, Sharp Corp., too, slashed its outlook for its fiscal year ending March 31, to a net loss of $1.29 billion. …
Export-driven companies, out. Instead, “Students consider companies in industries like infrastructure and food, which are robust in a recession… companies that are stable and don’t go away,” says Ito. “Their parents think the same.”
Grad students in engineering fields, of whom 1,860 were polled, still chose Panasonic as their ideal employer (followed by Sony), but automotive-related companies dropped in rank, and household products (including cosmetics) and pharmaceutical companies grew in popularity. The largest gains were seen by cosmetics companies Kao and Kose, food company Meiji, and three pharmaceutical companies: Shionogi & Co., Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., and Astellas.
Kevin Gibson, managing director of headhunting firm Robert Walters Japan, says he, too, is witnessing a flight to risk-free industries. “We see a gravitation away from banking and, oddly enough, manufacturing is perceived as insecure now,” Gibson says. Robert Walters is placing a large number of executive and management talent into health care and the pharmaceutical industry. “It’s getting fantastic people from I.T. and banking — people that [those industries] wouldn’t normally be able to employ.”
Foreign students finding jobs scarce (Yomiuri)
Foreign students seeking work in Japan after graduation are facing difficulties in finding jobs as employment conditions deteriorate because of the economic downturn.