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Japan: Children and Family Agency Establishment Act Adopted

On June 15, 2022, the Diet (Japan’s parliament) passed the Children and Family Agency Establishment Act ( Act No. 75 of 2022 ). The Children and Family Agency will be an external bureau of the Cabinet Office whose function is to oversee policies related to children in the country and their welfare. (Act No. 75, art. 2.) The agency is due to launch on April 12, 2023, when the act will take effect. (Supp. art. 1.) The new act furthers government policies aimed at addressing pressing children-related issues in the country such as low birthrates, child poverty, the bullying of children at school, child abuse at home, and sex crimes against children. The Child Basic Act ( Act No. 77 ) and an amendment to the Child Welfare Act ( Act No. 66 of 2022 ) were enacted in June 2022 with the purpose of tackling such problems. The new act states that the policy of the newly created Children and Family Agency will be to respect the opinions of children according to their age and level of development and give priority to their best interests. The agency will promote the welfare and health care of children and, because of the importance of the family’s role in child-rearing, the agency has been assigned to provide support for families rearing children. (Act No. 75, art. 3, para. 1.) The agency will have more than 300 officials . The act authorizes the agency to be responsible for administrative works related to planning and drafting proposals, as well as the general coordination necessary to unify the family-related measures adopted by each government agency. (Art. 4, para. 3.) The director-general of the agency may request the heads of relevant agencies to submit materials, provide explanations, and otherwise provide necessary cooperation. (Art. 5.) The act also states that a new advisory panel, the Child and Family Council, must be established within the agency. At the request of the prime minister or the director–general of the agency, the council will discuss and provide recommendations on such issues as parenting, support for expectant and nursing mothers, and protecting children’s rights. The Child Welfare Act and the Child Pornography Prohibition Act, among other children-related acts, will be amended at the same time that the new act takes effect, and the agency will take part in implementing some policies under these acts. (Art. 7, para. 1.) Issues related to education and school , including bullying, will be handled jointly with the Ministry of Education. Matters related to child welfare will also be handled jointly with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

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