Japan PM pledges aid in ‘last chance’ to boost birthrate

Saturday, Mar 18, 2023

TOKYO: Japan´s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday pledged to boost child allowances and paid parental leave as he warned the country faced its “last chance” to tackle a declining population.

Like many countries, Japan has been battling a falling birth rate for years, with just under 800,000 babies born last year, the lowest since records began. The country is the world´s second oldest, after tiny Monaco, and in January Kishida warned Japan was “on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society.”

“Six to seven years from now is the last chance to reverse the declining birth rate trend,” he told reporters at a press conference to unveil new policy proposals. “I want to create a society where young people can marry as they wish, and everyone who wants to can have children and raise them without stress,” he said.

He unveiled proposals including increased allowances for younger children, efforts to boost wages for young people and measures to tackle the cost of higher education. Kishida said the government would now have a goal of 50 percent of new fathers taking parental leave by financial year 2025, and 80 percent by 2030.

In 2021, just under 14 percent of fathers took leave. To achieve the increase, he proposed measures including offering allowances to companies encouraging paternity leave, and also pledged more pay when both parents take leave.