Next, let me speak about our initiatives to fully utilize the power of “people,” the driving force behind the development of Tokyo.
We will continue to strongly advance measures to not only secure “quantity,” in which we promoe the development of facilities, but also to raise “quality” so that parents can feel safe about entrusting their children. Our measures addressing the issue of daycare waiting lists in order to build a society where all who wish can happily raise children and work as well, which are being advanced in collaboration with the municipalities based on the three pillars of “promoting the establishment of daycare centers,” “providing support to secure personnel and reduce turnover,” and “improving support to daycare center users,” are steadily bearing fruit. The number of accredited day care centers have increased by about 260 from last year. And this year, even amid the increase in the number of applicants for a place in day care, the children on the waiting list, who numbered 8,466 as of April 1, 2016, are expected to reduce significantly to about 3,700, a level that was last seen a quarter of a century ago.
Next, as a measure to protect people, I would like to touch on passive smoking prevention measures. There is now less than a year for the Ordinance to Prevent Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke, passed last fiscal year, to be fully enforced next April. In an effort to raise the effectiveness of these measures, we have been holding information meetings and distributing handbooks, with the understanding and cooperation of facility managers, municipalities, and other parties. In addition, we have been providing subsidies to hotels and small and medium-sized eating/drinking establishments to build dedicated smoking rooms and other such facilities. By pushing ahead effective measures through public-private partnership, we will realize a society pleasant for everyone as befits the host city of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Concerning the prevention of child abuse, the Ordinance on the Prevention of Child Abuse went into effect this April, and based on that ordinance, we have been advancing a wide range of measures to ensure the sound growth of children. The measures implemented in this fiscal year include expansion of the number of child welfare officers, child psychologists, and other related professional staff, and collaboration with municipalities to examine effective partnership between the Child Guidance Offices and Child and Family Support Centers. Through these measures, we aim to strengthen the child guidance system across Tokyo. Also, at the National Capital Region Nine Government Summit Council Meeting held recently, Tokyo and the other participating prefectures and cities declared to work together for the prevention of child abuse. We will continue to collaborate with relevant entities including the police and schools, and act in concert with Tokyo citizens as well, for a society-wide effort to protect our precious children.
Another area in which we have been stepping up efforts to protect people is the enactment of an ordinance to support victims of crime. We are looking to pass the ordinance to provide further support to victims of crimes and their family members. To this end, just last month we set up an expert panel, through which we will consider the proposed ordinance from a broad perspective, while taking into account such things as issues specific to large cities and the views of the people of Tokyo.
Issues facing schools are becoming complex and diversified. Against this backdrop, many teachers are working excessive hours close to the so-called “karoshi line” (the amount of overtime that can raise the risk of health issues), making work-style reform at schools a pressing issue to address. Last month, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education formulated guidelines setting forth the maximum working hours for teachers at metropolitan schools. And, next month, we will launch the “Tokyo Education Promotion and Support Organization for Schools (TEPRO),” as the first general incorporated foundation in Japan established with the purposes of providing detailed support to schools and reducing the workload of teachers. We will enhance support for metropolitan schools in multifaceted and effective ways, including utilization of the abilities of retired teachers and community members, to promote the creation of an environment where each teacher can give full attention to the children to uphold the quality of education.
With dramatic advances in information technologies, IT talent is demanded in various fields. In order to systematically cultivate such talent, we will study a new educational program at metropolitan high schools. In collaboration with private companies and vocational colleges, we wish to develop a practical curriculum that focuses on post-graduation study and careers, including classes offered by those working successfully on the frontlines and internship opportunities at companies. Furthermore, in order to nurture global talent who can play active roles on the world stage, we will build Diverse Link Tokyo Edu, a network linking metropolitan schools with universities, enterprises, international organizations, and other entities in Japan and abroad, to provide more advanced learning opportunities. Students can engage in activities such as attending workshops conducted by professors of overseas universities, top executives of global companies, and others, and engaging in online discussions with other schools in Japan and overseas. Learning in an environment connected with society and the world enables students to not only acquire advanced English skills, but also develop qualities required in the age of AI, such as an inquisitive mind, creativity, and communication skills.
Aspiring to create a society kind to people and animals, I have been devoting efforts for animal welfare since taking office, and have achieved zero culling of abandoned dogs and cats one year before the target year. Moving forward, while deepening collaboration with volunteer groups and other parties that have provided tremendous support for our effort, we will further promote initiatives such as raising and spreading awareness of the proper care of pets and their lifetime care, and promoting animal adoption.