• Kyodo News


Reducing education expenses and using more public money to pay for health checkups for pregnant women are necessary to counter the declining birthrate, according to a report by a Liberal Democratic Party panel made available Saturday.

The draft, which outlines a long-term policy for tackling the declining birthrate, calls for free education and day care for toddlers and incentives that would give families with preferential financial terms for pursuing higher education.

The draft also calls for devoting 1 percent of the consumption tax revenue to steps to cope with the graying society.

The panel envisions cutting admission and tuition fees for families with multiple children to zero or half the normal rate through high school and university.

It also says that it is necessary to create a system to publicly fund the entire health checkup process for pregnant women. Under a supplementary fiscal 2008 budget enacted in March, no personal spending is required for up to 14 regular checkups, but that should be made permanent, it says.

The panel plans to submit its proposals to LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Kosuke Hori on Tuesday so they can be reflected in its 2009 policy agenda to be adopted on June 23.

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