Boosting Young Workers’ Pay Key to Reversing Japan’s Low Birthrate

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government believes young people’s incomes need to be boosted, or any measures to tackle the country’s low birthrate may end up just looking good on paper.

The business community holds a vital role in realizing continued wage growth. Many business leaders are members of a new government panel that started discussions Friday to reverse the falling birthrate.

“Our traditional measures to raise the birthrate have focused on helping people raise children and get married,” Masanobu Ogura, minister for child-related policies, told a press conference last month.

“What’s so unique this time is that we’re stepping into economic and social policies to help boost the incomes of younger generations,” he said.

In Japan, 30.5% of male regular employees 25 to 29 have spouses, while the share is lower, at 12.5%, for male non-regular employees in the same age group, according to a government survey. For men 30 to 34, the share is 59.0% for regular employees and 22.3% for non-regular employees.

In both age groups, men with higher salaries are more likely to have spouses, to some extent. In other words, ensuring young people have incomes high enough for a stable life is an important factor in creating an environment in which they can get married and have children without worries.

After attending the first meeting of the new panel, Suntory Holdings Ltd. President Takeshi Niinami told reporters that “steady growth in wages and household incomes needs to be ensured.”

Along with addressing the low birthrate, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been seeking to realize continued wage growth by promoting the reskilling of workers and workforce shifts to growth industry sectors.