Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has vowed to increase childcare leave benefits in a bid to reverse the country’s plummeting birth rate.
Kishida told a press conference on Friday that the next six to seven years will be Japan’s last chance to reverse its declining birth trend, noting that his administration will carry out unprecedented measures as a top priority to turn the situation around.
Kishida said the government will provide assistance to employers to encourage their male staff to take childcare leave. Only about 14 per cent of eligible male workers in Japan took parental leave in 2021, while the government aims to raise the figure to 50 per cent in three years.
The prime minister also pledged to provide benefits to freelancers and self-employed workers who stand to lose income after the birth of a baby.
The number of babies born in Japan in 2022 slipped to a record low, falling under 8,00,000 for the first time since records began in 1899. The drop comes much earlier than the government expected.
Kishida said his administration will reveal the new scheme’s outline along with its policy package in June.