In Japan last year, the number of deaths was approximately double that of births, with fewer than 800,000 babies born and around 1.58 million people passing away. This has raised concerns, and Prime Minister Kishida has pledged to increase spending on children and families to address the issue. The aim is to slow down the decline, which is occurring at a faster pace than previously anticipated.
According to an adviser to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Masako Mori, Japan is facing a threat to its social safety net and economy due to a fall in its birth rate. Mori stated that unless the country can slow this decline, Japan may cease to exist.
In an interview in Tokyo, Mori expressed her concern after the announcement on February 28th that the number of babies born last year had hit a record low. Mori emphasized that it would be the people who have to live through the consequences of this disappearance who would face enormous harm, and the situation could be likened to a terrible disease that would afflict the children.
Japan’s population continues to decline, with last year’s birth rate being less than half of its death rate. The number of births was fewer than 800,000 while deaths were around 1.58 million. This has alarmed Prime Minister Kishida, who has pledged to double spending on children and families to combat the situation, which is progressing even faster than expected.
The population in Japan has fallen from its peak of just over 128 million in 2008 to 124.6 million, with the rate of decline accelerating. Additionally, the proportion of people aged 65 or over has risen to more than 29% in the past year. While South Korea also has a low fertility rate, Japan’s population is shrinking at a more rapid pace.
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Masako Mori, an upper house lawmaker and former minister who advises Prime Minister Kishida on issues related to birth rate and LGBTQ, stated that the decline in Japan’s birth rate is not gradual but rather a sharp nosedive. She expressed concern that children being born in the current scenario would have to face a society that is distorted, shrinking, and unable to function.
Furthermore, if no action is taken, Mori warned that the social security system in Japan would collapse, leading to a decline in industrial and economic strength. Additionally, there would not be enough recruits to protect the country through the Self-Defense Forces.
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According to Masako Mori, while reversing the birth rate decline in Japan would be incredibly challenging due to the dwindling number of women of childbearing age, the government must take all possible measures to slow down the fall and alleviate the impact.
Although Prime Minister Kishida has not yet disclosed the specifics of his new spending package, he has indicated that it will be substantially different from previous policies. Some of the measures proposed so far include increasing child allowances, enhancing childcare provisions, and introducing flexible working arrangements.
However, critics argue that providing financial support to families with children is insufficient to tackle the problem. A government panel on gender equality has recommended a comprehensive approach that encompasses reducing the burden on women of raising children and making it easier for them to participate in the workforce after giving birth.
Mori criticized the tendency to consider the issue of birth rate decline separately from finance, trade, and female empowerment. She believes that women’s empowerment and birth rate policies are interconnected, and addressing them in isolation would not yield the desired results.