• Politics & Government

Child Allowances in Japan to be Expanded from Oct. 2024

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced plans to expand child allowances next year, following Cabinet approval of a strategic policy comprising “unprecedented” measures to combat the low birth rate.

At a press conference Tuesday, Kishida said the main pillar of the strategy — expanding child allowances — would be implemented from October 2024, and insurance covering maternity expenses for natural childbirth would be introduced in fiscal 2026.

This decade is the “last chance we have to attempt to reverse the declining birth rate trend,” Kishida said, stressing that measures need to be implemented before the 2030s when the young population is forecast to start declining sharply.

Regarding efforts to secure additional funds in the mid-¥3 trillion range per year, Kishida said, “We’ll firmly maintain a policy of seeking to effectively avoid additional burdens by thoroughly implementing spending reforms and other measures.”

The government will position the next three years as a period to focus on implementing measures to combat the low birth rate.

The allowance income cap will be removed and eligibility will be extended to all parents with children up to high school age — it is currently offered up to junior high school age.

Families will receive a monthly allowance of ¥15,000 per child for the first and second children up to the age of 2, and ¥10,000 per child from the age of 3 through high school age. For the third and subsequent children, the amount will increase to ¥30,000 per child through high school age.

In addition to including maternity expenses for natural births in insurance coverage, Kishida also proposed “further strengthening support for maternity care by around fiscal 2026” to create an environment in which pregnant women can give birth safely and with peace of mind.

The government plans to establish a system in which every child can attend preschool on a flexible hourly basis, regardless of the parents’ work situation. It aims to fully implement the system by the end of fiscal 2024.

The government also plans to increase benefits paid under the paternity leave system by fiscal 2025, to encourage fathers to take childcare leave.

The government is aiming to work out specific measures to secure financial resources by the end of the year.

According to the strategic policy, taxes will not be raised. The government has set a goal of “implementing thorough expenditure reforms so there will be virtually no additional burden [on the public].”

The policy also states that stable financial resources would be secured by fiscal 2028 and that special public bonds would be issued to make up for a shortfall.