Japan promotes plan to increase birth rate

Japan promotes plan to increase birth rate

Tokyo Japan.- Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the period to 2030 is the “last chance” to reverse a declining birth rate that threatens the country’s long-term economic prospects, while implementing policies aimed at easing the financial burdens of parents.

Kishida told a news conference on Friday that his government plans to improve childcare subsidies, provide housing assistance to young families raising children, work to reduce education costs and increase wages for younger workers.

“The problem of the declining birth rate is a fight against time,” Kishida said.

The Prime Minister added that men needed to do more to help raise children. His administration sought to raise the target rate for paternity leave to 50 percent by fiscal year 2025 and to 85 percent by fiscal year 2030.

“The government will seek to make the creation of a child-first society the common goal of its policies,” Kishida said.

Japan last year recorded its fewest births since it began keeping records, continuing a seven-year decline that further exacerbates the challenges of its rapidly aging society, according to data published in February.

Kishida’s government will draw up a preliminary package on its policies by the end of the month and plans to present a framework by June to double spending on children. The government has been trying to increase the workforce by encouraging more women to work and accepting some migrants.

Kishida added that society needed to stop placing most of the burden of child-rearing on women. She described subsidies aimed at helping part-time workers work longer hours without facing a tax barrier, and getting both men and women to take paternity/maternity leave after the birth of a child.

The birth shortage means Japan will have a smaller workforce and fewer taxpayers to sustain the world’s third-largest economy for years to come.

The rising cost of caring for its elderly, who make up a higher proportion of the population than in any other country, drains the nation’s coffers, helping make it the most indebted state in the world.

The government allocated 4.8 trillion yen ($36 billion) of the 2023 fiscal year budget to a new agency dedicated to children and their families, the Nikkei newspaper reported in December.

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