Yomiuri Proposal on Declining Population Receives Wide Support; Govts, Businesses Agree to Support Childcare, Child-Rearing

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday.

A proposal to address the nation’s declining population, which was published by The Yomiuri Shimbun in its morning edition on Friday, has received wide support and understanding from the central and local governments, the business community and other entities.

The proposal lists seven items — including seamless support from marriage to child-rearing, wage increases that will encourage young people and the creation of a society in which people can choose various working styles — and calls on governments and businesses to do everything possible to provide support.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi commended the proposal at a press conference on Friday, saying, “[The Yomiuri Shimbun] proactively proposed steps in a wide range of areas.”

“The declining birthrate is in a critical situation,” Hayashi added. “The entire government will continue to tirelessly examine measures that should be implemented.”

Ayuko Kato, state minister for measures on the declining birthrate, stressed the government’s intention to swiftly enact legislation to revise relevant laws, including a law to support childcare and child-rearing, during the current Diet session in order to expand child allowances and implement other measures.

“We share the same awareness concerning this problem,” Kato said. “We intend to build momentum, so society as a whole will support children and child-rearing households.”

Pointing to the importance of preventing an exodus of residents from regional cities, the proposed seven items also call for the development of regional communities to encourage residents to stay.

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito expressed his intention to use the proposal as a reference, saying, “We also want to take new steps, such as making use of technology.”

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai, who also serves as president of the National Governors’ Association, described the proposal as “thought-provoking.”

“It is also important to address the issue from the perspective of creating regional communities that are chosen by women, so we want to discuss it in the future,” he said.

In the business community, Takeshi Niinami, chairperson of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, known as Keizai Doyukai, said, “I fully agree with all of these proposed steps.”

Niinami said he has placed importance on increasing disposable income, reforming the social security system to decrease the burden on working people and encouraging the active participation of foreign nationals in society. He also said the association plans to draw up its own proposal to address the declining population.

Kai Akiyama, executive director of the 1 more Baby ohendan foundation, noted that the number of married couples who are hesitant to have a second child has been increasing.

“If there is continuous support for housing and educational expenses from marriage and pregnancy through child-rearing, concerns about having a second child will be greatly reduced,” Akiyama said.