Stop Making Parents Carry Used Diapers Home, Japan Tells Daycares

Stop Making Parents Carry Used Diapers Home, Japan Tells Daycares

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Children's diapers in a stack
Picture: DepositPhotos
Japan's government is calling on the country's daycares to end a stinky practice of forcing parents to haul their kids' dirty diapers home.

It’s hard out there for parents. Silly rules only make things harder. Now, Japan is asking day cares across the country to dispense with one rule that many say forces an unnecessary – and stinky – burden – on parents.

The controversy originates in a discussion that boiled over on social media last year. Parents online complained that their daycares, instead of tossing out dirty diapers themselves, made parents take them home.

In response, a group of daycare workers formed the Committee to Abolish Taking Home Diapers from Day Care (保育園からおむつの持ち帰りをなくす会) in March 2022. In a survey of daycares across Japan, the group discovered that 40% implemented this policy.

Some prefectures didn’t implement the policy at all. For example, Aichi Prefecture had no such daycares. Meanwhile, a full 89% of daycares in Shiga Prefecture demanded parents haul their stinkies home.

The Association called for all daycares to abolish the practice, arguing it was unsanitary during a pandemic. But they also argued that partitioning the diapers out by parent put an undue burden on daycare workers.

Diaper disposal for all

Picture: kouta / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Nothing much happened after the Association’s survey until this week. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) issued a statement to all municipalities requesting all of them move towards on-site disposal of children’s diapers.

MHLW told providers to take the expense out of their normal operating expenses or collect it from parents as a service fee. (Daycares that currently dispose of diapers for customers charge parents a small monthly fee – e.g., 300 yen/month.) It said it’ll also provide financial support for centers that need to invest in garbage disposal equipment.


A more child-friendly Japan?

Parents holding child's hand

Japan is wrestling with how to increase birth rates and put the brakes on its falling population. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio called recently for Japan to become a “child-first society”. The move is part of an initiative by Kishida’s cabinet to garner public approval and reverse its falling poll numbers.

Part of the issue is with the increasing expense of raising kids. Real wages have remained stagnant in Japan for over 30 years. Meanwhile, retail and wholesale prices continue to rise. Both the central government and local governments, such as Tokyo, are floating plans to provide parents with financial assistance.

However, some parents in Japan say money is only part of the problem. They point to ways in which society seems to look upon actual children as an inconvenience. For example, some parents have complained vocally on social media about how they’re treated on buses and subways when using a baby stroller.

In a similar vein, many people spoke out on social media when the city of Nagoya announced it would close a local park. The closure seemed to derive from the dissatisfaction of a single older resident, who complained the kids were “noisy”.

Women in Japan also say they bear an unfair burden of childcare and housework. The numbers bear this out: according to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), women in Japan do 25 hours of household labor a week compared to men’s five.

Japan’s Perennial Baby Stroller War


保育園「おむつ持ち帰りは不衛生」 保育士も実は負担、見直し進むか. Kyoto Shimbun

「使用済みおむつ、保育所で処分を」 厚労省が自治体に通知. Mainichi Shimbun

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

Japan in Translation

Subscribe to our free newsletter for a weekly digest of our best work across platforms (Web, Twitter, YouTube). Your support helps us spread the word about the Japan you don’t learn about in anime.

Want a preview? Read our archives

You’ll get one to two emails from us weekly. For more details, see our privacy policy