|7||gI Outline of Japanese School Systemh||Previous||Next||JAPANESE|
| Over time the number of kindergartens in Japan has decreased and as of May 1st, 2002 totaled 14,279. Approximately, 60% of them are private, and 15% of the private kindergartens are not corporate. The number of kindergarteners peaked in 1978 at approximately 2,500,000, and has decreased to 70% of that peak today. Enrollment rates in kindergartens peaked at 64.4% of eligible children during 1979- 81, and have decreased to 59.9%. The reasons behind this trend include both declines in birth rates and the increasing availability of and enrollment in day care centers. Day care centers today total 22,000 and take care of 1,800,000 children, which is as many as attend kindergartens.
Children can enter kindergartens from 3 years age up through the end of the preschool age group. Nowadays, enrollment by 4-year olds in 2-year preschools account for the largest proportion, followed by enrollment of 5-year-olds in a 1-year preschool and then 3-year-olds enrollment in a 3-year preschools. Of the nearly 110,000 full-time preschool teachers in national, public and private preschools, more than 90% are female.