Japan Prime Minister Says Country Is ‘On The Verge’ Over Falling Birth Rate

Japan’s Prime Minister is sounding the alarms over his country’s falling birth rate.

“Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society,” Fumio Kishida told lawmakers.

“Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed.”

Kishida – dubbing Japan’s declining birth rate as a “now or never” situation – feels it crucial to double the government’s spending on child related programs.

From the BBC:

Japan – population 125 million – is estimated to have had fewer than 800,000 births last year. In the 1970s, that figure was more than two million.

Birth rates are slowing in many countries, including Japan’s neighbours.

But the issue is particularly acute in Japan as life expectancy has risen in recent decades, meaning there are a growing number of older people, and a declining numbers of workers to support them.

Japan now has the world’s second-highest proportion of people aged 65 and over – about 28% – after the tiny state of Monaco, according to World Bank data.

Notably, phrases like “now or never” and “on the brink” are not typical statements. Kishida is clearly taking notice of the country’s falling birth rates, and asking the government to provide incentives to reverse this stark trend.

The BBC outlined factors that could be driving this declining birth rate include, but are not limited to, rising living costs (like how real wages haven’t grown in 30 years), more women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception.

America has also seen a similar pattern in its declining birth rate in recent years due to the same reasons; a push to move more women away from the home with contraception and abortion serving as the safety mechanism for that wave.

Japan, which hosts the oldest population in the world, also has strict immigration laws. This has led to only 3% of the country’s population being foreign born.

In other words, though these immigration laws have somewhat relaxed recently, Kishida appears to be looking more towards encouraging the Japanese population to procreate rather than import migrants as the BBC is suggesting it should.

“If you want to see what happens to a country that rejects immigration as a solution to falling fertility, Japan is a good place to start,” the outlet states.

The BBC blasts Japan for seeking racial purity and social harmony. Even though that appears besides the point Kishida is making in his plea for boosting birth rates.

Kishida believes a new government agency focused on child related programs will be instituted as soon as April. 

The PM appears hopeful about this pursuit, even though it’s worth noting Japanese governments have tried to promote similar strategies before without success.

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