During a Sept. 9 debate with the other candidates for Liberal Democratic Party president, eventual winner Yoshihide Suga said he would allow national health insurance coverage for infertility treatments in order to help households have more children. Japan's birthrate has been low for decades, and the government is yet to come up with any measure to raise it. Some couples say they are unable to have children due to physiological issues, and infertility treatment is presently not covered by insurance, so Suga's gambit makes some sense, but it doesn't address the main problem, which is economical.

The government knows this and has tried to make it easier for women to balance working lives and motherhood with programs like funding day care services, but even these measures have fallen short.

In the South Korean movie, "Kim Ji-young, Born 1982," based on the international bestseller by Cho Nam-joo and opening in Japan on Oct. 9, the titular character, a homemaker and mother of a 2-year-old girl, struggles with dissociative episodes in which she briefly becomes other people in her life. Her husband, Dae-hyeon, urges her to see a therapist, and at one point breaks down in front of her, despairing that Ji-young's condition is his fault because he has not done enough to help her raise their daughter and maintain their comfortable Seoul apartment. Ji-young looks at him and wonders why he feels he has to "help" her. After all, this is his home, too. That toddler is his daughter, too.