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Japan seeks to stem decline in birth rate


Money for babies. So proclaimed the Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, who promised in his general policy speech on Monday, January 23, “unprecedented measures to stop the fall in the birth rate and allow everyone to participate in the education of children”.

The question of the birth rate dominated this forty-five-minute speech. A few days earlier, the government had announced that the number of births had probably fallen, in 2022, below the 800,000 mark, unheard of since the first statistics on the subject, in 1899. The population of Japan at 1er January was estimated at 124.77 million inhabitants, a decrease of 0.43% over one year. Twenty-nine percent of Japanese are over 65 and 11.6% are under 14.

“We are on the verge of no longer being able to maintain the functioning of society”, was alarmed Mr. Kishida. The decline in the birth rate, which has been steady since the 1970s, accelerated with the Covid-19 epidemic. It is already resulting in labor shortages in a country reluctant to immigration, accelerated desertification of the countryside and growing difficulties in financing pensions – even if it is now possible to work until 70 years old. – and social security. The financing of these services represents 33.7% of the budget for the 2022 financial year, twice as much as in 1990.

High cost of education

To revive the birth rate, the government plans to create, in April, a family affairs agency, responsible for considering the improvement of childcare services, the working environment, but also the increase in family allowances. , the doubling of which should be recorded in June. The current system grants 5,000 to 15,000 yen (35 to 106 euros) depending on the parents’ income, per child, until the end of compulsory schooling, at age 15. The government plans to remove the income limit and maintain the allowance until the age of 18. He could also increase it to 60,000 yen for a third child.

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Another measure under consideration is the increase in the lump sum allowance of 420,000 yen granted at the birth of a child. The Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs, Katsunobu Kato, wants to raise it to 500,000 yen. The government is also considering a system of coupons for families with children under the age of 2, which can be used to pay for education-related products and services.

In order to fight against desertification, the Japanese government will increase in April, to 1 million yen per child, aid currently set at 300,000 yen, to families who leave the Tokyo metropolis to live for at least five years. in a rural area.

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