We will support "never give up" even if prices are high June 6 at 5:17

"It's thanks to this coupon that I can go to a cram school,"

says a third-year junior high school student who started attending a cram school last year to take the high school entrance exam.

Rising prices are putting pressure on households. But I don't want my children to give up on cram schools and lessons.

Efforts to support people who are struggling financially are spreading with this in mind. (Director of Political Science and Economics and International Program Department: Takashi Niino)

Never give up on "children's learning"

There is a noticeable decrease in expenditure in the household budget survey of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications released in May. It is "educational expenses".

The cost of cram schools and tutoring decreased by 5.3% this March compared to the same period last year. Of all the items, the decline was the largest. Rising prices are also seen as one of the factors.

Consumer spending for households with two or more people decreased 2.3% year-on-year in March, the first decline in two months

Under these circumstances, efforts to protect children's opportunities to learn are attracting attention. This is a "study coupon" operated by "Chance for Children", a public interest incorporated association that supports children from needy families.

Electronic points that can be used at cram schools and lessons are provided free of charge to households exempt from inhabitant tax.

The points provided are worth 15,1 yen for elementary school students, 2,20 yen for first- and second-year junior high school students, and 3,30 yen for third-year students. Users can use points to pay tuition fees, etc., and the corresponding amount is transferred directly from the group to the user.

In addition to cram schools, children can freely choose from a wide range of fields, such as sports such as soccer and baseball, and music classes such as piano.

The system is supported by "donations"

The funding is supported by donations from more than 100 companies and individuals.

We are active in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Kansai, and Tohoku, and last year we supported 688 children. In total, approximately 1 million yen worth of electronic points were provided.

Director Imai: "By using electronic points instead of cash payments, it is possible to limit the use of points to 'education,' and since the processing is done digitally, there is less administrative burden on the teachers who use them. In addition, we meet with university student volunteers once a month to provide various consultations, support the use of coupons, and make it a point not to just leave them unattended."

Use the coupon to go to the cram school

We talked to parents and children who use coupons.

Students in the third year of junior high school, who are about to take the high school entrance exam, have been attending cram schools since last year.

At school, he belongs to the brass band. I want to go to a strong school for brass bands, which I have admired since I was a first-year student. At the cram school, I mainly study subjects that I am not good at, such as mathematics and English.

Third-year junior high school student who uses coupons: "My grades are gradually improving and I am starting to enjoy studying, and I am able to attend cram school
because of coupons, so I want to do my best while thanking the people who supported me."

The students' families are single-mother families.

Her mother, who is self-employed, says that she has cut back on electricity and food costs, but without coupons, she would not have been able to pay a monthly fee of about 2,<> yen amid rising prices.

: "There is a limit to saving money, and I thought that cram schools were financially difficult for single-mother families and had no choice but to give up. It was really nice to see my daughter working hard towards her goals."

How do you respond to the growing needs?

The need to redeem coupons has skyrocketed.

In fiscal 2023, we received more than three times as many applications for about 260 new users. There is a limit to how much we can operate on donations alone, and we cannot respond to all of them.

Therefore, the governing body is focusing on cooperation with local governments. Five cities in Tokyo have already introduced coupons: Shibuya Ward, Kunitachi City, Chiba City, Osaka City, and Kamimine Town in Saga Prefecture.

From this fiscal year, the initiative will also begin in Tama City, Tokyo.

It is intended for economically struggling families in the city, and funds are funded by the city's budget.

In addition to providing the city with systems and know-how, the governing body will also dispatch counselors for children's career paths and studies.

Nagai, Section Chief
of Tama City: "The government would like to provide direct support to families whose children are motivated but cannot fulfill their needs. We would like to strengthen our support by partnering with specialized organizations."

Imai, Representative Director of the Governing Organization: "I think that solving the problem of disparities that occur outside of schools and after school should be something that the government should work on,
and we aim to make support for learning opportunities become a social infrastructure while listening to the voices of children."

Owning a car is also "never giving up"

Efforts to support "never give up" are also progressing in fields other than children's lessons.

Depending on the region and people, it is a "car" that can be said to be a daily necessity.

Masahiko Takahashi, 63, lives in Higashimatsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture. I work as a security guard at a construction site, and a car is essential for commuting to a site about 50 kilometers one way.

However, due to unstable income and soaring gas prices, it became difficult to pay for the maintenance of the car purchased five years ago.

. Takahashi: "A car is essential for living in a rural area, and if you give it up, you will not be able to continue working."

Mr. Takahashi was worried. When I consulted with a local self-reliance counseling support organization, they told me about the initiative to rent cars at a low price to people who have no choice but to give up their cars for financial reasons.

Its name is "Life Assistance Car Leasing".

This is an initiative carried out by the Japan Car Sharing Association in Ishinomaki City in the Tohoku region and other regions.

In principle, a self-reliance counseling support organization is the point of contact, and after hearing about the need for a car and creating a plan for improving household budgets, procedures for using car leasing are carried out.

The usage fee is 5500,1 yen per month for mini cars. In principle, the contract period is one year.

Users are required to take out automobile insurance and pay for gasoline and parking, but the operator bears the vehicle inspection fee and automobile-related taxes, so the user can keep the maintenance cost low.

Mr. Takahashi:
"I was able to reduce the monthly cost of the car by almost half, and although I can't choose the type of car, it is enough to go to shopping and work every day, which is very helpful. Now that I'm able to save little by little, I want to be able to buy a used mini car and return the car I borrowed."

Ishiwatari: "Our goal is to have people who are worried that they can't continue working without a car, or that they can find a job if they have a car, and to have them have their own car within the contract period, and to serve as a "bridge" until they purchase it.

The trigger was the Great East Japan Earthquake

This system is supported by donations.

All the cars we rent are donated by individuals and businesses. Recently, it seems that there are more and more cases where people provide cars when they buy a new car or to return their license at an older age.

In addition, the oil, batteries, studless tires, etc. necessary for car maintenance are provided by each manufacturer.

This support began after the Great East Japan Earthquake. We have started an initiative to lend cars as a means of transportation for people who lost their cars due to the tsunami and volunteers. Since then, whenever a disaster has occurred in various places, we have continued to support people who need cars.

Three years ago, we also started helping people who need a car but find it difficult to maintain or buy it for financial reasons. So far, we have supported more than 3 people.

Currently, we have bases in Tochigi, Shizuoka, and Saga prefectures, and we are able to rent out about 40 units. Amid rising prices, inquiries are pouring in from all over the country.

Ishiwatari: "Inquiries are rapidly increasing amid soaring prices, especially inquiries about how difficult it has become difficult to pay for vehicle inspections due to the tightening of household budgets, and that we have decided to give up our cars in order to consolidate our debts. In the future, we would like to increase the number of bases and expand the system to many regions to reduce the opportunity loss caused by the absence of a car."

Don't give up on "something you need now"

Both of the two initiatives we covered are supported by donations. There is a limit in terms of funds and personnel to expand nationwide, and the person in charge said that he would like to see the circle of support expand.

As prices rise, I think there are many people who are forced to give up "something they need now" for economic reasons.

Loss of opportunities for the future can demotivate a person and have a greater impact on their lives and society.

I felt that more detailed support from a long-term perspective was required.

Director of Politics and Economics and International Program DepartmentTakashi

Niino joined Kyoto
Bureau in 2011, Good Morning Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Area Bureau, and has been a current member since 2021.