Nursery schools come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Government funding is provided for recognized nursery schools. In April 1998 the revision of the Child Welfare Law resulted a partial change in the nature of nursery schools.
Kindergartens on the other hand, are supervised by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Kindergarten Center Standards were announced in 1956 by the MEXT (formerly known as the Ministry of Education). Certain regulations under the Kindergarten Center Standards govern the establishment of new kindergarten centers. Licences for kindergartens are given out by local governmental authorities in cities and prefectures according to these standards. Certain rules exist for kindergartens like there must be separate washing facilities for the washing of hands and feet.
In recent years with the decrease in birth rate, many kindergartens around the nation are finding it difficult to survive and some have merged or closed. Nursery schools on the other hand, are oversubscribed with long waiting lists and the existing ones are not meeting the needs of working mothers.