State mulls child-rearing support to keep population at 100 million

Kyodo

The government plans to support efforts to make child-rearing easier in a bid to keep Japan’s population from falling below 100 million five decades from now, according to the blueprint for the plan.

A draft of the plan to be finalized later this month by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy said Sunday that the government will place emphasis on encouraging women to have more than two children, child-rearing and education.

The main thrust of the government’s plan is to slow Japan’s population decline, which is being driven by a low birthrate and rapidly graying senior populace, to the point that at least 100 million citizens will be present 50 years from now. The other key tasks involve putting an end to decades of deflation and ensuring sustainable economic growth.

The draft states that there will be a need to reverse the trend starting in around 2020, and says the government should spend more of the budget on raising the birthrate and creating an environment in which women can opt to have a third child.

It is estimated that Japan’s population will fall to about 87 million in 2060 from around 127 million at present if the birthrate does not increase.

Since the smaller and rapidly graying population will result in a shortage of workers, crimping economic growth and fiscal conditions, the government is keen to craft measures to reverse the trend.

Among other issues, the blueprint calls for expanding the new individual investment accounts introduced in January to boost economic growth. It also suggests retaining the target of achieving a primary balance surplus in fiscal 2020, which will mean Japan could can finance government spending other than debt-servicing costs without issuing new bonds.

With regard to cutting corporate taxes, the blueprint does not include specific proposals because deliberations on tax reform are still ongoing.

After consulting with the LDP and its junior coalition partner New Komeito, the government hopes to get the Cabinet’s stamp of approval on the economic and fiscal policy blueprint by the end of this month.