Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that a declining birth rate and an aging population pose an urgent danger to society, and he vowed to tackle the problem by creating a new government agency.
Birth rates are declining in many developed countries, but in Japan the problem is particularly acute because it has the world’s second-highest proportion of people aged 65 or older, after the tiny nation of Monaco, according to World Bank data.
Child First Social Economy
“The number of births decreased to less than 800,000 last year, according to estimates,” Kishida told lawmakers in a political speech marking the start of the new parliament session.
“Japan stands on the edge of whether we can continue to function as a society,” he said.
“Focusing attention on policies related to children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed.”
Also read: China’s population is shrinking for the first time in more than 60 years
The Conservative leader said his policies – including the launch of the new Children and Families Agency in April – were designed to support parents and ensure the “sustainability” of the world’s third-largest economy.
Ultimately, Kishida said, he wants the government to double its spending on programs for children.
“We must build a child-first social economy to reverse the (low) birth rate,” he said.
Birth rates are slowing down in many countries
Japan has a population of 125 million and has long struggled to provide for a rapidly growing aging population.
Birth rates are slowing in many countries, including Japan’s closest neighbor, due to factors including the rising cost of living, more women entering the labor force, and people choosing to have children later.
Official data last week showed that China’s population shrank in 2022, for the first time in more than six decades.
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