Japan mulls hike in childbirth benefit

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo

The government is discussing a proposal to raise the lump-sum childbirth benefit from ¥420,000 per child to about ¥500,000 in fiscal 2023, as part of efforts to tackle Japan’s declining birth rate.

On Tuesday, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato presented the proposal to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who will make the final decision.

In fiscal 2021, the average cost of delivering a child, excluding cesarean sections, was about ¥470,000, according to the health ministry.

The total is closer to about ¥490,000 with the inclusion of the Obstetric Compensation System premium, which provides compensation if a child develops cerebral palsy due to an accident during childbirth.

The ministry believes it is necessary to raise the benefit to at least this level.

Kishida had previously announced a “significant increase” in the lump-sum payment, saying that the declining birthrate was “at a critical point.”

The increase for fiscal 2023 will be borne by health insurance societies and other insurers that handle the lump-sum benefit.

From fiscal 2024, the government plans to ask for contributions of about 7% from financial resources of the medical insurance system for elderly people aged 75 and older.