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Japan expanding free preschool, part of Abe's $17.5bn spending

Program to cover 2 million more children; cost-benefit link unclear

Japan looks to make early childhood education free for most families, but the country also faces a shortage of facilities.

TOKYO -- Japan will spend roughly 800 billion yen ($7.01 billion) to expand its free preschool program, part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to increase human resources investment.

The expansion will render all 3- to 5-year-olds eligible for assistance, regardless of their parents' income, making preschools free for an additional 2 million children. Currently, 2.5 million children in that age group attend either nursery school or kindergarten in Japan. 

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