The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Friday it will ask for 20.16 trillion yen in social security outlays in the fiscal 2007 budget.

It is a 2.7 percent increase from the amount in this year’s budget. Pension and medical expenditures are the two key items in the social security budget.

The social security figure is 93.3 percent of the ministry’s budget request for the next fiscal year of 21.6 trillion yen, up 3.2 percent from the current budget.

The ministry wants 1.41 trillion yen to try to reverse the declining birthrate, which is up 7.3 percent from the current budget, and includes 106.5 billion yen to spend on policymaking, up 31.0 percent.

To improve the birthrate, the ministry said it will come up with a new plan to shorten people’s long working hours and will give money to firms for encouraging its employees to take maternity leave, ministry officials said.

The ministry also plans to take steps to consolidate pediatric and obstetric hospitals and to expand public assistance for fertility treatment, the officials said.

The ministry’s budget request also includes 2.6 billion yen to help older “freeters” — part-timers between 25 and 34 — to find permanent, full-time jobs, and 140 million yen to help prefectural governments bring in physicians to work in rural areas.

Late last month, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet set a 46.8 trillion yen cap on general expenditures in the fiscal 2007 budget.

Social security outlays account for more than 40 percent of general expenditures — a broad category of policy-related discretionary spending that excludes compulsory costs, such as debt-servicing and tax grants to local authorities.

The new budget will be drafted in December.

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