I understand that nursery school and kindergarten teachers, pediatric doctors and researchers as well as working mothers are in the audience today. They are all people essential to the theme, "support for working mothers." However, before we begin, I would like to introduce a piece of data about mothers who care their children at home.
Figure 1 is based on data from a questionnaire with which I was associated. It was filled out by readers to put together sales materials for the magazine Tamago Club (Egg Club)*1, Hiyoko Club (Chick Club)*2 and Kokko Club (Cock-a-doodle-doo Club)*3. For your information, these three publications have a total monthly circulation of about 760,000.
Looking at this questionnaire, we see that 70-80 % of those answering are homemakers. However, over 80 % of these people state that they would like to work. They say that once their child reaches the age of three, they want to put them in nursery school and work. It is at this point that the difficulties in child care for infants appear.
Although they would like to work, reasons they cite for not doing so include systemic problems such as, "there is no work" or "if you don't work, you can't get your child into nursery school," "there are no day care facilities for infants nearby," and "the fees of child care are high." Furthermore, mothers have concerns such as "if the mother doesn't care for the child at home until the age of three, there will likely be problems with the child in the future" and "is it really OK to put a child in day care?"
This is the reality of mothers as seen from the magazines. We see that young mothers, as usual, hold the responsibility for caring for children alone while feeling doubt and uncertainty. As was pointed out in Doctor Friedman's presentation this morning, "the parent decides what kind of child care the child receives," "it is important for the mother and the child care worker to have a high level of sensitivity" and "the quality of child care effects a child's development." This is no doubt greatly encouraging for working mothers as well as for those mothers who are caring for their children at home and even for those women who get married, have a child and possibly work in the future.
However, we should point out that the NICHD data comes from research carried out in the USA. I would like to discuss how this data applies to Japan, if indeed it does apply to our situation. Just what is high quality day care? I would like to hear the panelists' views on the research of NICHD.
First of all, I would like to call on the renowned developmental psychologist, Dr. Uchida. Many of our participants indicated an interest in hearing what Dr. Uchida has to say.