Japan’s declining birth rate poses a threat to the functioning of the country as a society, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said.
His ‘now or never’ warning was one of the clearest issued by a Japanese leader and comes as the government pledges ‘unprecedented’ childcare support to turn the tide.
“Due to the rapidly declining birth rate, Japan is on the cusp of whether it can maintain its societal functions,” Kishida said, noting that the number of births last year is expected to fall below 800. 000, a record high.
“It’s now or never when it comes to policies around births and child rearing, because this is an issue that simply cannot wait any longer,” he added.
Kishida is set to expand economic support such as child benefits, improve childcare services and implement work style reforms.
The Prime Minister pointed out that women in Japan tend to become part-time workers after giving birth and said this issue should be addressed.
After hitting a low of 1.26 in 2005, Japan’s fertility rate fell back to 1.45 in 2015, but has since fallen for six consecutive years.
Current fertility is well below the assumptions of projections that Japan’s population will grow from 127 million in 2015 to 88 million by 2065.