Tackling birth rate crisis ‘cannot wait’
Japan's low birth rate and ageing population pose an urgent risk to society, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said yesterday, pledging to address the issue by establishing a new government agency.
Birth rates are declining in many developed countries, but in Japan the issue is particularly acute because it has the world's second-highest proportion of people aged 65 and over, after the tiny state of Monaco, according to World Bank data.
"The number of births dropped below 800,000 last year, according to estimates," Kishida told lawmakers in a policy address marking the start of a new parliament session.
"Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society," he said.
"Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed."
The conservative leader said his policies were designed to support parents and ensure the "sustainability" of the world's third-largest economy.
Kishida added that he eventually wants the government to double its spending on child-related programmes. "We must build a child-first social economy to reverse the (low) birth rate," he said.