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The government and ruling coalition, at the first meeting of a special committee charged with devising measures to halt the declining birthrate, agreed Thursday to study giving families with children a tax break, panel members said.

Many lawmakers from the ruling bloc — the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito — want the panel to look closely at the family tax break, the panel members said.

LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Hidenao Nakagawa said the committee should consider higher tax-break rates for families with low incomes and those with a lot of children.

Kuniko Inoguchi, minister in charge of dealing with the birthrate decline, told the meeting the public is strongly in favor of tax cuts to help families with kids.

The ruling bloc is considering tax breaks for child-rearing, in which the dependent exemption would differ according to the number of children in a family. The new plan would replace the current exemption for dependents or be implemented along with a reduced version of it.

The government and coalition have already agreed to expand the child-rearing allowance in fiscal 2006 to include families with children up to the sixth grade, raising it from the third grade, and will relax the restrictions on income qualification.