Abe convenes panel to tackle low birthrate, aging population


Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a key advisory panel of intellectuals and Cabinet members Thursday, tasking them with providing ideas to overcome one of most serious long-term problems confronting Japan: its rapidly aging population and low birthrate.

Abe has set a key policy goal to maintain Japan’s population — now around 127 million — at a level of more than 100 million in 50 years by boosting the low birthrate.

Abe also has pledged to create “a society where all of the 100 million citizens can play an active role,” apparently with the aim of making full use of Japan’s latent work force, and women in particular.

The panel, which includes 15 non-Cabinet members, was launched to generate ideas for achieving the two key goals.

The members include Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara, former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda and Momoko Kikuchi, former pop idol and now visiting professor at Toita Women’s College in Tokyo.

Based on advice from the panel, the government plans to hammer out “urgent measures” to tackle the population issues by the end of this month, with a more comprehensive, long-term program to follow around spring next year.

“If the birthrate remains at the current level, Japan’s population will be about 80 million in 50 years, and 40 million in 100 years,” Abe said at the panel’s first meeting in the prime minister’s office.

“This is about one-third of the current population. It will directly lead to a decline of our national power,” Abe said.

Japan’s rapidly aging and shrinking population has caused serious concerns about its future as the size of the economy shrinks while social security costs for the elderly continue to swell.

Abe is trying to turn this trend around by pledging more public support for households raising children and increasing welfare facilities to eliminate instances of family members quitting jobs to care for elderly relatives.

He has already been criticized, however, for an apparent lack of specific programs to boost the low birthrate as well as a lack of financial resources to fund increasingly expensive welfare facilities.

  • Scott Durand

    Immigration could be one answer. If Japan like other developed Western democracies had polices that supported migration to Japan (especially that of refugees) then the population may slow its decline or possibly even increase.

  • Honesty WasTaken

    Why would Japan allow people to migrate? They are proud people who are racist, sexist, and oppressive and could give a rats ass less about tackling the causes of low birth rates. You want to know why? Because in Japan you work long days, and you must work long days to get a good paycheck to pay for all the taxes. Raising a Japanese kid is expensive and time consuming. 2 people that are married are most likely working rather than 1 staying at home because of expenses. the only good job s are corporation jobs, but there are so many of them now they can easy pay you less, because they can easily replace you. You think it’s the Japanese fault? No it your corrupt leadership who get handed money under the table. It nay not be the whole cabinet but you can be rest assured they aren’t cabinet for the Japanese people.

  • Taro-nechan

    Were there enough women on that panel?

  • Richard Solomon

    Japan’s demographic challenges are admittedly complex and thorny. Overcoming these dynamics will require strong and proactive leadership that must help the people overcome centuries of hierarchical patriarchy and an aversion to immigration. It will also require significant changes in the country’s tax system. I hope the panel comes up with suggestions that are feasible and constructive. I hope Abe and his cohorts are willing and able to do what is necessary.

  • Hans Gruber

    Japan could turn to immigration, but it doesn’t need to: It needs to ASK young Japanese why they aren’t having kids. Instead of blind guessing, they need to TALK to people to ask why. Don’t guess or assume. ASK! Get some working-class moms on that panel.

    The government looks after the elderly well. It needs to start looking after the young who are worked so hard they don’t have the time or money to raise a family.

    Legislate to enforce work life balance. Right now companies make employee work unpaid overtime and late nights and weekends. Yes there are laws against that, but no penalties so companies do it anyway. There’s no time to raise a kid. There’s no time to even see your kid.

    Take the financial burden off families. The reason they are not having kids now is high cost and lack of time. I hope the government understands that increasing sales tax will only put more pressure on young families. The way you grow your economy is by encouraging innovation and investment. Raising taxes has the opposite effect.

  • U Nyunt Shwe

    Well, the prime minister himself is unproductive, isn’t he?

  • Tangerine 18

    Japan has been aware of the demographic trend since the early 1970s yet has done almost nothing serious about it. Quite why yet another “panel of experts” will be expected to find a short-order solution when there is clearly no political will to make the drastic changes needed, is anyone’s guess.

  • Andy D

    Just look around,,,,Elderly ….enjoying travel,,parking lot are full with cars at Gambling places,,,
    almost play grounds cover by elderlies,even during holidays to play there games,,,….most of them enjoying good vehicles..getting enough money to have expensive supplements, companies targeting elderly to make huge profits..

    Now Looks Children and Middle class Parents situation…Salaries are not enough to provide common need easily to kids.

    most of parents salary goes to pay car and house loan….
    expensive kindergarten fees,,,severels needs for elementary and upper students , Roads condition are to worse,,even thousands of roads have no footpath for kids to go safely to school,many accidents occurring,,
    if you or more kids may parents have no enough time for them,,all day you should have to rush n rush to care kids from morning till late nigh..welfare in Japan Is very low….
    Parents worry about their pension and even kids feature,,,,,,

  • Conrad Brean

    Abe has only contempt for people with IQs over his own….which would mean 13….

  • Ron Lane

    The current government, like the previous governments in the last forty years, is incompetent. As has been mentioned previously, it has been known for 40+ years that the population of this country would begin to decline — as it has — very early in the 21st century. And yet nothing has been done to solve the problem. As raising a family + having a career at the same time is terribly difficult, many women have had to choose between family and career. Having a career provides a woman with financial independence as well as opportunities to interact with the “outside world” — something denied stay-at-home mothers. As long as raising a family prevents women from participating in the workplace, the population will continue to decline.

    Our current government, like previous ones, remains clueless as to the causes of the problem. For that reason, any attempts at mediation are pointless. Abe’s proposed panel included.

  • 99Pcent

    Yes, this is great news. Japan should make it easier economically for couples to reproduce. At the moment most Japanese would prefer not to have kids because they cant afford it. Japan should have like a hippie movement or a free sex movement to promote sex between couples and further birth rates.
    Go Japan Love democracy and freedom unlike China.

  • 99Pcent

    Yes, this is great news. Japan should make it easier economically for couples to reproduce. At the moment most Japanese would prefer not to have kids because they cant afford it. Japan should have like a hippie movement or a free sex movement to promote sex between couples and further birth rates.
    Go Japan Love democracy and freedom unlike China.


    HIGHLY-EDUCATED and enlightened girls will never allow their hubbies to convert them into child producing machines. There is no point in wasting time in convincing busy girls to have extra baby. It is easier to import manpower from countries like INDIA. Like PARSIS, Japanese also will become extinct before the blink of eyes.

  • bobcat72

    Japan is going to continue to go downhill because the people in power don’t even understand the issues at hand. The funny thing is, I rarely see any mention of Japanese men and improving their situation. More and more Japanese men are looking at marriage as nothing but a death sentence, where they spend ungodly amounts of hours in the office, only to have to hand over their paychecks to their wives, who then give them an “allowance” (no, I’m not making this s**t up) and then the wives keep the rest for themselves. They play an absolute minimum role in the lives of their children, because they work so many hours and the fathers role in a child’s life is one that is considered to be completely insignificant – other than the financial role, of course. If the marriage ends in divorce, the woman takes EVERYTHING. Fathers are basically nothing but walking ATM machines in Japanese society, and an increasing number of Japanese men, after growing up watching their own fathers work themselves to death and get zero respect, have absolutely no desire to go down that road – and rightfully so. If Japan continues to allow marriage for men to be nothing but a sentence to decades of misery until they die, then the Japanese population will continue to decline.

    Western society is now starting to experience the same thing, as many countries in Europe are watching their marriage rates go down the tubes, and populations in many European countries are declining. Men no longer want anything to do with a gynocentric system that treats their role as nothing other than that of a walking ATM machine. Immigration is probably the only thing keeping the U.S. from having a declining population. Men lose everything in divorce court, and over 70% of divorces are initiated by women. Heck, men don’t even need to be fathers to get stuck paying child support anymore. Just look up Carnell Alexander. A woman lied about him being the father of her child, and even though she admits she lied and a paternity test proves he is not the father, he is still being forced to pay…and yet, women can’t figure out why men avoid single mothers like the plague. They call these men “irresponsible”, as though if the roles were reversed they wouldn’t be doing the same thing. If a woman had to pay child support to a single father that she was dating, she and every other woman out there would lose it, but so long as it’s men getting the s**t end of the stick, who cares? Right? In fact, I just saw a news story about a handful of women who are whining because they are paying alimony to their ex-husbands. Keep in mind, these women are only a part of 3% of people paying alimony. 97% of people paying alimony are men paying women. Of course, as soon as women start getting treated like men, then they cry foul like the hypocrites that they are.

    Japan’s situation will not change so long as men have zero incentive to get married and have children.