More Japanese parents turning to Internet babysitting services

Sitter's Net, a website that helps parents find babysitters, has been frequently used because it is cheap and flexible when it comes to responding to urgent requests. The service was used by the 22-year-old mother of a 2-year-old boy in Isogo Ward, Yokohama. The boy was found dead in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture.

"I want to play a lot, laugh a lot and be friends with children," Yuji Motte states on a website that looks similar to Sitter's Net. Motte is described as the service's representative. He was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of abandoning the body of 2-year-old Riku Yamada.

According to a company that runs Sitter's Net, around 10,000 people are registered for the service across the nation, with about 5,000 registered babysitters in the six years since the website was opened in 2008.

A 34-year-old working woman living in Takatsu Ward, Kawasaki, whose husband also works, looked on the website for somebody to take care of her 2-year-old boy for 1,200 Yen (S$15) per hour when she was busy.

She had previously used a babysitter agency, but began using the website because the agency cost a lot and they did not accept sudden requests, according to her.

She said: "It's an essential service for working parents. My husband and I are satisfied with the service," although she is worried about leaving her child in the care of someone she doesn't know well.

A woman in her 20s who has experience of taking care of children said she babysat for one child at 600 to 800 Yen per hour. She does not have a license such as being a certified nursery staff.

"It should be easy for mothers to leave children in our care since it's so cheap," she said.

According to the public benefit corporation, All Japan Childcare Services Association, the basic fee of babysitting usually is 1,500 to 2,000 Yen per hour. However, there are some companies that charge around 2,500 Yen and charge even 3,000 Yen during the night and early morning in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

On the other hand, Motte's website has the same name as the Sitter's Net. It carries many photos of Motte with children and touts the site's convenience, saying, "Please feel free to contact us when you have a sudden engagement."

The fee was 3,000 Yen per hour for a child aged 1 and under at the parents' home, 2,000 Yen for a child of the same age at a place arranged by the service, 2,500 Yen for a child between 1 to preschool at the parents' house and 1,500 Yen for a child of the same age at a place arranged by the service.

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