• Kyodo

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A government report on welfare and labor released Tuesday calls for increased child-rearing support and reform of the work culture to reverse the decline in population.

The white paper by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry urges all citizens to share a sense of urgency in coping with the stagnating birthrate.

Japan’s total fertility rate — the average number of children that a women is estimated to have in her lifetime — stood at 1.42 in 2014. The rate has fallen from over 4 in the late 1940s, and the government aims to raise it to 1.8 by 2030.

While stopping short of proposing specific solutions, the ministry said steps will need to be taken to improve the labor market for young people, provide enhanced child-rearing support on a regional basis and change the culture of long working hours.

The white paper says that the average age of people’s first marriage has been rising due partly to financial reasons and limited opportunities to meet potential partners.

It also points to a ministry survey in which 77 percent of mothers with children aged 15 or younger said they have worries about raising their offspring. Most of the parents surveyed said stable employment and income is an important factor in parenting.

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