About 70 percent of Japanese parents are worried about the impact the nationwide school shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak is having on their children, a survey by a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization showed recently.
Respondents cited children's mental stress from changes to their daily routine as well insufficient exercise as among their major worries, according to the online poll conducted by Florence, a government-approved child welfare aid group, which surveyed 8,339 parents from March 6 to 9.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe late last month called on all elementary, junior high and high schools across the country to temporarily close through early April, leaving parents having to find ways to keep their children occupied at home.
Among those parents who said they are "anxious" or "very anxious," 69.9 percent cited their children's lack of exercise. Stress from not being able to see their friends and disruption to their studies, both at around 57 percent, came next. Multiple answers were allowed in the survey.
More than 50 percent of respondents also cited a dearth of places for kids to stay or play during daytime.
The poll quoted one respondent as saying, "I almost hit my kid in a fury after we became stressed out by the school closures," while another said, "My child's panic disorder got worse."
Also, many parents complained that their neighbors looked on them critically if they let their children play outside.
The study also highlighted the financial difficulties that school closures have brought upon some households. One parent even asked for help, saying food expenses had doubled because of the need to provide lunch. A drop in income was a concern for some parents as they have been forced to reduce their working hours in order to take care of their children.
The government will allow classes to begin as scheduled in the new academic year starting next month, education minister Koichi Hagiuda said Friday.