UCA News

Japan allocates US$25 billion to reverse birthrate decline

The rise in unmarried people, due to factors such as unstable employment and low incomes is a major cause, says an analyst
Pedestrians walk along a street in Tokyo's Ginza district on Dec. 29, 2022

Pedestrians walk along a street in Tokyo's Ginza district on Dec. 29, 2022. (Photo: Richard A. Brooks/AFP)

Published: June 16, 2023 03:30 AM GMT

The Japanese government has approved a series of new measures, including increased financial support to families, aiming to reverse the alarming decline in the birthrate in the country.

The measures spearheaded by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will allocate an annual budget of approximately 3.5 trillion yen (US$25 billion) over three years (2024-2027). 

Kishida identified the lack of adequate income among the younger generation as a major factor contributing to the decline in the birthrate.

“If we do not put a brake on the rapidly declining birthrate and population decline, our country's economy will shrink, and it will become difficult to maintain our social security systems, including local communities, pensions, medical care, and nursing care,” Kishida told media on June 13.

Japan recorded its lowest number of births ever in 2022, at 799,728, highlighting the critical need for action to address the declining birth rate.

The measures look to increase financial assistance to the younger generation.

The lump-sum allowance for childbirth will be increased from 420,000 yen to 500,000 yen (some US$3,500). Additionally, childbirth expenses will be covered by public health insurance to provide greater financial assistance.

Besides, monthly child allowances of 15,000 yen will be granted for each child under the age of three, while children from ages three through senior high school will receive 10,000 yen per month.

For families with a third child and subsequent children, a monthly allowance of 30,000 yen will be provided, regardless of their age, until they reach senior high school.

Furthermore, income restrictions for receiving government child-rearing allowances will be eliminated, ensuring wider access to financial support.

In addition, Japan aims to expand tuition fee exemptions at universities and offer free higher education to students.

To secure funds for these initiatives, the government plans to implement expenditure reforms.

“While we will implement the support measures with a sense of urgency, we will utilize special deficit-financing bonds for children to address the shortage of financial resources arising from the fact that it will take several years to complete expenditure reforms,” Kishida explained.

Two mothers told UCA News they welcome the state measures.

A Filipino mother, who identified herself only as Maria, said the government program will assist in alleviating the family’s financial burdens.

The 49-year-old woman said she lives in Kawaguchi City in Saitama Prefecture and works as a part-time caregiver. She has two girl children aged 12 and 10, Maria added.

“The increased lump-sum allowance for childbirth will certainly help many mothers,” said Hiroe Katsuki, 34, a Japanese mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy from Tokyo.

But she said many hospitals and clinics are now expected to increase their fees, and making it free of charge would have been even better, she commented.

Monthly allowance for a third and subsequent child is helpful, but it won’t solve the problem, she pointed out.

“If we don’t receive enough support for our first and second child, we won't even consider having a third child,” she added.

She agreed with Kishida that the lack of enough income among the younger generation remains a major reason for the country's declining birthrate.

“Rather than just providing money, I believe it is necessary to fundamentally change the fact that wages in Japan have remained stagnant for a very long time,” she said.

A major reason for the declining birthrate in Japan is the increase in the number of unmarried people, attributed to factors such as unstable employment and low incomes, according to Haruka Sakamoto, a senior fellow at The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research.

The increase in unmarried people is not primarily because of a change in value, Sakamoto said during a press conference in Tokyo on June 7,

“The real reason is that they were victims of the ‘ice age generation (job shortage generation)’ and the stagnation of economies that followed, which prevented them from marrying or having children if they wanted to,” she said quoting research data.

“The younger generation should not be considered the cause of the declining birthrate but rather the victims of the stagnant economy in society,” she further stated.

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I will appreciate to the government of Japan ????????.I wish to live in Japan
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