Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s pledge to boost infertility treatment support has offered a ray of hope to couples longing for children, but experts say the policy will not be a panacea for reversing the nation’s declining birth rate.

As Japan, with the world’s oldest population, struggles with dwindling numbers of newborns, Suga has vowed to make often costly infertility treatment eligible for coverage by national health insurance, with government officials eyeing the change for as early as 2022. In the run-up, subsidies for couples undergoing such treatment will be sharply increased.

Many couples who have undergone years of infertility treatment at the cost of millions of yen have been encouraged by the move, but some experts say it may not be enough to boost the nation’s birth rate at a time when it is under fresh strain as the coronavirus pandemic darkens the economic prospects of working-age people.