National

Listen to parents on birthrate: Aso

The government must curb the nation’s falling birthrate by focusing on programs favored by parents, including enhancing preschool education and providing payments for parents taking maternity leave, the home affairs ministry said Tuesday.

Taro Aso, minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications, said the Angel Plan, whose updated version will be drawn up later this year, should focus on programs that are in high demand.

He submitted a report to this end to Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi and other Cabinet members.

Aso presented the report based on his ministry’s evaluation of the existing New Angel Plan, which will expire at the end of this fiscal year.

This is the first time that the ministry has presented its own evaluation of overall government policy aimed at countering Japan’s falling birthrate. But the report stops short of stating whether these policies have produced results.

The home affairs ministry failed to measure the effectiveness of existing policies, saying it is unclear whether an increase in nurseries would trigger an exponential rise in the birthrate, according to the report.

But the ministry concluded that the government should expand programs that suit the needs of parents, with a survey conducted on those in their 20s and 30s having found that they favor certain policies over others.

Amid a decline in the perceived ideal number of children, however, the ministry said it cannot have control over changing individual values and external factors through its policies.

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