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Views of Panelists
Child Care in the 21st Century

Kazuko Imai
Professor, Tokyo Seitoku Junior College

My Thoughts on Participating in the Symposium
The final comment by Dr. Friedman on what is universally important for child care in every country really brought me to my senses. The very persuasive message gave us a view of the state of child care in the 21st century. Child care is not something that replaces families or the responsibilities of families towards their children. Women want to contribute to society and their families by working, and this is a sign of historical progress. As such, society needs to provide high-quality child care that will promote the development of children. Through this message I was able to focus on the very difficult relationship between families that utilize child care and providers of child care. As a whole, I would have liked to make the best of the symposium and have people with different opinions and standpoints discuss and ask each other questions. In particular, I wanted to argue with Dr. Matsumoto's statement that in order for children to grow up emotionally healthy and happy, child care leave should be obligatory so parents can take plenty of time off and be economically stable when raising their children." I feel that rather than being obligatory, it should be an option. As it was mentioned in Professor Uchida and Dr. Friedman's speeches, an important theme was that if the quality of child care is high, infants will be less likely to form unstable attachments even with mothers who lack sensitivity. I feel that this data will be important for infant child care in the future.

Child care in the 21st century by a group of adults of different ages
Unlike Professor Uchida and Dr. Matsumoto, I was unable to present what I had intended within my allocated time, and left out the important theme of how we should think of child care in the 21st century.

The biggest concern regarding child care in the 20th century was the formation of nuclear families, and the increasing isolation and stress of mothers. Mothers who socialized in parks with their children suffered from nervous exhaustion from the social pressure and raised their children in this tired state. People could not experience relationships with people of different ages and feared being excluded from their peer groups. Therefore, I feel it is a good idea that in the 21st century, child care should be provided by people of various age groups: people who have finished raising their own children, those who are raising more than one child, those who are struggling with their first child, high school volunteers as in Canada, in places such as family support groups, child care centers, and kindergartens.

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