A population trend estimate announced on Jan. 30 by the health and welfare ministry's National Institute of Population and Social Security Research shows that in 2060, Japan's population will fall to about 30 percent below the current level, while people aged 65 or older will account for 40 percent of the population. It is imperative that the government take effective measures to make it easier for young people to be able to afford to marry and raise a family.

As Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in his policy speech before the Diet on Jan. 24, Japan should change its social security system from one that is preoccupied with supporting elderly citizens to one that strengthens support for working people, including child-rearing families, and meets the need of all generations.

The estimate shows that Japan's population will shrink by around 30 percent to 86.74 million by 2060, and that the percentage of people aged 65 or older will increase from 23.0 percent in 2010 to 39.9 percent in 2060. People will also live longer than now. The average life expectancy will rise from 85.93 years in 2011 to 90.93 years in 2060 for women and from 79.27 years to 84.19 years for men during the same period. Nursing care and medical services will become increasingly important. The government should show clearly the costs and benefits of such services so that people will be better prepared to accept the burden of higher social welfare costs.