Japan's Diet passes law to expand childcare assistance

Japan's Diet has passed a law to expand support for children and child-rearing households amid a falling birthrate.

The new law will remove the household income limit for receiving child allowances in December this year.

Coverage will be expanded to include children up to the age of 18.

Households will be able to place children in childcare facilities regardless of whether their parents or guardians are working, and childcare leave allowances will be expanded.

To finance these programs, the government plans to increase public health insurance premiums paid by individuals and businesses to establish a support fund system, which will be implemented in phases starting in fiscal 2026.

The law also specifies that children caring for family members will be eligible for support from the central and municipal governments, and measures to assist them will be strengthened.

The law was passed in the Upper House plenary session on Wednesday, with support from the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its partner Komeito. Major opposition parties voted against it.

Committees of both the upper and lower chambers of the Diet have approved a supplementary resolution that calls for reviewing the law after verifying the effects of allowance payouts.