Kindergartens and day nurseries were organized as separate systems and unevenly distributed in Japan after WWII. Previous studies show that the reasons for their distinct regional characteristics included the shifting demographic structure, industrialization, local or family needs, spread of existing facilities and rate of full-time homemakers. However, there has been limited research examining the effect of the local situation. This paper studies the actual situation and background of the development of and local differences between kindergartens and day nurseries by focusing on Nanao city, Kaga city, and Tsubata-town in Ishikawa Prefecture, where day nurseries from 1950s to 1970s developed remarkably as compared to kindergartens. Owing to the availability of municipal finances, several day nurseries that gained subsidies from the national and prefectural governments were established, but it was not feasible to increase the number of kindergartens. Additionally, there were other major circumstances, changes in the social situation such as the increase of primary industry workers becoming migrants or day workers due to changes in the industrial structure, and the historical situation such as the development of day nurseries before WWII. Thus, while the development of day nurseries advanced, the establishment of kindergartens fell behind. After WWII, each city or town established only one new public kindergarten, which was originally attached to an elementary school and offered educational opportunities to five-year-old children. This development may have been in response to the national plan aiming to improve the percentage of infants who finished kindergarten. With regard to the cases in the rural area of Ishikawa Prefecture, it is apparent that the institutional difference between kindergartens and day nurseries was extremely ambiguous; therefore, day nurseries that have developed did not necessarily target only the infants "who lack in early childhood education and care."
The purpose of this report is trying to make it clear what was the starting point of practice of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) after WWII, and how have it been developed, based on the published documents about ECEC practice. Practice of ECEC after WWII started from Guideline for Kindergarten issued by Ministry of Education. The Guideline stood for "free-flow play" centered principle. However, the new ECEC practice that had critical stance of the Guideline has been created. This is an Introduction report not a completed study yet, and the profound study is now in progress.