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Suga's pledge to boost fertility treatment won't reverse declining birth rate, say experts

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By Maya Kaneko

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It’s a good move even if it won’t solve the problem completely. Not sure why it has taken so long for this idea to gain traction as it seeks painfully obvious.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the daycare situation. Throw on top of that the miserable working conditions. More daycare and reward efficiency at work. Stop clinging to inane ideas such as the number of hours you spend at work translates into how much work you actually do.

21 ( +25 / -4 )

Issue is : say sex is good, sex education, and create a family as soon as possible otherwise everyone in Japan will have grandpa and grandma as their parents...

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Most people have understood the right time of having sex to avoid the pregnancy. So they enjoy their fun time and therefore, don't even think of having a family plan.

Condoms, Pills and Timing are avoiding it. Before late 90s, people didn't care about these things. They just do it whenever they feel, so babies and babies all around but now people think on advance about the right time to enjoy.

A week before or after a womans' period is the right time to get pregnancy, that's what most hospital suggest

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Say all you want about convincing people to start a family.

But when workers have no time to meet anyone or look after kids because of BS busywork overtime and wages are a joke, why have children?

33 ( +33 / -0 )

Cut tax for married couples-it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out...

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Schooling is expensive if you take into account to do any good you need to do juku, which is super expensive. If the government made schools 100% free and increased the quality so juku was not required you would have more kids.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

The real reason for low birth rates is the simple fact that the average income of those in their prime childbearing age (those in their 20s and 30s) has been steadily declining over the past two decades. They just can’t afford to get married and start a family,

27 ( +27 / -0 )

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the daycare situation. Throw on top of that the miserable working conditions. More daycare and reward efficiency at work. Stop clinging to inane ideas such as the number of hours you spend at work translates into how much work you actually do.

Very very well said! And more encouragement and incentives for companies to let their workers work from home would be a big step up to curbing some of these social problems.

Say all you want about convincing people to start a family.

But when workers have no time to meet anyone or look after kids because of BS busywork overtime and wages are a joke, why have children?

That's it right there in a nutshell. While I don't want to be a negative Nancy and criticize this move (Good on Suga for doing this) what OzBurger said is 100% correct. Full time workers work like slaves and the rest of the people are too poor to start a family.

Another thing the prefectural governments can do is buy out and renovate the empty houses with no owner (Akiya 空き家) renovate them and sell them for peanuts to a young family trying to start a life. Access to extremely cheap houses in your area could be an incentive to start a family.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

I guess another question may be is "Why is it that so many women in their 40s don't have kids? I know at least 10 women, personally, who can't have kids though they have try. I'm sure there are many more.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

This would be TOTALLY unnecessary if the government would make it even feasible for couples to actually raise a child with any sense of security.

What I mean is, guaranteeing that there is adequate child care available for ALL parents! Which means giving child care providers themselves a living wage and not the minimum wage level that many are getting now!

Pay them enough, and ensure there are facilities available with proper training and support and people will get into the field!

The point of the last consumption tax increase was to improve this and other problems associated with child raising, and yet I have yet to see any solid evidence that is where the money is being used!

There are plenty of other issues as well, like EDUCATING boys and girls when they are younger, about how to develop interpersonal relationships. Boys are boys and girls are girls education is outdated, educating them to learn how to respect one another vs separating them.

Ahh..the list goes on! The actual percentage of women who have children in later years is increasing due to a host of reasons, but this is not a cure all, and it also increases problems as these "kids" are many times going to be growing up in single child households and will be forced into taking care of elderly parents, just as their own lives are getting started.

This is a double edged sword, better than nothing, but NOT the answer!

4 ( +8 / -4 )

70,000yen per month it costs me to have a private hoikuen in Setagaya-ku. We been on the waiting list for over 2 years now for a government hoikuen. Doesn't take a genius to figure out the problem here Suga

15 ( +18 / -3 )

Population decrease has nothing to do with fertility treatment issue. Real problems are high cost of living in Japan and unstable job situations. It costs a lot of money to raise children and poor (small) housings in Japan making young couples difficult to have more children. These problems are the first to be solved.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

And yet another panic report about Japan's declining birth rate. Japan has over 126 million people, they could stand to lose population as resources are limited.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

want more babies, Japan? How about stop raising taxes and stop raising prices so young couples can AFFORD to have a baby?

19 ( +20 / -1 )

I believe the main problem is no one is interested in starting a relationship with the opposite sex, not alone marry and start a family. It is all, in the words of one 20-something I know, mendokusai. (troublesome).

Their parents believed they should graduate from university, find a job, marry, have children, work ‘til death, then retire. And they did.

This generation (teens, 20s ~ 30s), isn’t buying into that scenario. They also aren’t buying cars, TVs, newspapers, or books.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

This would be TOTALLY unnecessary if the government would make it even feasible for couples to actually raise a child with any sense of security.

How would this measure help people that have infertility problems?

As a measure to increase significatively birth rates this measure is nothing, because addresses only a small segment of the population that could have more children. But as a measure to treat a very serious health problem this is something that should have been done a long time ago.

So the important part is the focus of the change. As a boost for fertility rates it could even be counterproductive as described in the article, but as facilitating treatment for couples with serious problems this is a very positive advancement.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

It is super expensive, I remember myself and my partner looked into it back when the doctors said we only had a 2% chance to get pregnant naturally. By some miracle she did, We found out a day before the appointment.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Why have children? It costs a small fortune to have one and then constant expenditure for food, clothes, education, crazy cost of school sport club membership and activities that include for parents to take time off work for joining school activities and support of club activities like cooking for parties and going with your child to other prefectures for competitions and constant payments. Being a member of the local mothers bitchy group. And after all that, you got to start paying more for 3 to 5 years of higher education and then what happens? You kid finds a job somewhere and you rarely see him/her till the wedding and then you start to pay again for the wedding and their kid and so on and so on. In the end, your whole life is to pay for for your kid and the government takes their cut from every yen you pay and you don't even once get a thanks.... Brake the circle of slavery!!!

14 ( +16 / -2 )

J-GOV are desperate as they want new tax payers for their undeserved salaries.

babies = tax payers , sadly nothing more for JGOV...

5 ( +8 / -3 )

That’s the wrong way for many reasons, including social and health related ones. You’d better support with that money the youth and young families , so that they can afford children and find an environment to raise them and without fear of interrupting education, career, income increases etc. But why do I tell you that? You know that all for yourself, but deny doing it. That mentioned goal of 1.8 fertility rate also shows some of your deficits, doesn’t it?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

A welcome initiative. The key is family-friendly policies, balancing the benefit to work and family life, providing essential resources needed for parenting of young children i.e. time, social finances and the necessary services.

The state needs to directly invest in “families”, businesses/state must form partnerships, paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks, plus quality childcare and child benefits.

No cheap option here though. Personally I would be happy to support with higher taxes

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@oldman_13

And yet another panic report about Japan's declining birth rate. Japan has over 126 million people, they could stand to lose population as resources are limited.

Not the shrinking population is the problem, but the age distribution as a result. You cannot have a vivid economy and good life if all the 10% young people are busy feeding, cleaning or bringing to toilet 90% high-aged people. You find more retirement homes than convenience store already now in many areas outside the cities. The younger people working there are missed at other places and let’s be honest, are being exhausted from that working environment and low income there so that they won’t start own families with children.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Family planning, parenting, and of course, sex belong in the private domains into which the non-socialist government can hardly intervene.

A few suggestive points:

1) The latest figure (last month) revealed that the significantly increasing number of young (means potentially futile) Japanese women have taken own lives. It is implied that many were working yet underemployed, thrown into unemployment due to the pandemic impact.

2) The abortion rate in Japan seems to have still remained relatively high.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Correction: futile -- fertile

I find this news worrying and worthy more attentions.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

"It's easy for couples comprising two full-time workers to exceed the annual income threshold,"

If this were really the case, the biggest factor in the declining birthrate wouldn't be people worrying about their income when it comes to the prospect of getting married and having children.

While investing into these treatments will offer tremendous help, its still a drop in the bucket compared to what people are truly worried about. People are genuinely worried about finances and long working hours. You can't think about starting a family if you can't provide for one and you are not around to raise a family.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Too little, too late. Some friends of ours spent several years and millions of yen on fertility treatments to no avail, sadly.

There is also a cap on a couple's combined annual income, set at 7.3 million yen in most municipalities.

Pitifully low. As usual, one is left with the impression that the Japanese govt wants to address the situation but not any any meaningful way that would include making difficult decisions.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

noriahojanenToday 09:16 am JST

Family planning, parenting, and of course, sex belong in the private domains into which the non-socialist government can hardly intervene.

What a bizarre comment. Every single Japanese government for the past 110 years has intervened in family planning, birth control and contraception.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

A way to throw taxpayer money toward a favored political constituency while addressing a non-existent problem. He's learned well from Abe.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

How would this measure help people that have infertility problems?

Cherry picking a comment to make your own point. Read the entire post and you have the answer!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Gees! Out of touch much??? There may very well be a small percentage of couples seeking fertility treatment, but It’s only a very small part of the declining birth rate problem. The reason people are not having babies is purely financial. Stalled salary increases, the ever increasing cost of childcare and secondary education and that scam they call a pension all add up to a very unstable future. The declining birthrate will not change until Suga and his cronies get some money in people’s pockets and a secure financial future.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Cherry picking a comment to make your own point. Read the entire post and you have the answer!

There is no cherry picking, nothing in the rest of the point justifies saying that a very useful measure for the purpose of helping remediate a serious health problem is "totally unnecessary"

And there is no answer, nothing in your comment replaces the very obvious need that is solved with this measure, even if it does not solve every other related problem.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Lol. So many people here complaining about the tax and expensive care. You don't have to choose the better things. You want to put your children in better school and make them wear brand clothes but do you really have to? Check your pockets and look for the things that you can afford.

People from poor countries have more children yet happy living.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As far as families are concerned Japan has been essentially BROKEN now for over 30yrs & counting, reasons why are all listed above my post!

The mrs & I spent between 5-6million with no result then one of us got cancer & the combination put unbelievable stress on our marriage that remains in a bad bad state now about 20yrs later, that said I DONT think IVF etc should be covered by insurance.

The only way to fix this is to FIX Japan & that aint going to happen, life here is utter crap for the vast majority so the decline will continue un-abated, as I have said many times we are watching Japan literally die!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

oldman_13Today  08:08 am JST

And yet another panic report about Japan's declining birth rate. Japan has over 126 million people, they could stand to lose population as resources are limited.

For christs sake how many times do I have to repeat myself

LOOK at Japan's population pyramid it is in a REALLY bad state, the population decline is NOT the issue it is HOW the population is declining wake up!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

From my experience, I noticed a big age difference for pregnancies in Tokyo and country side. In Tokyo, most of the mothers in the hospital were in their 30s or older, while in a small city in Kyushu everybody was 20s, even some teenagers. Including myself, in a big city people having a career consider much more the timing of getting a child, and I believe the average age for pregnancy is higher (haven't actually checked). And I guess it is in the interest of the government to subsidize people who reached a stable stage in their career and have difficulties in having a baby.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

i believe sky high taxes have something to do with the fertility rate. Everybody want to have a healthy and happy family with kids around, the problem is are we permitted/afford to have it ? back to the realistic ground then the issues is solved magically. Give us some space to spend our hard earned money on building our family, then many people are willing to get married and start their family

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Though commendable, the Japanese government are still barking up the wrong tree to increase the birthdate. This idea and the cash incentive for couples to get married misses the point, maybe they can’t have children or don’t want any.

you have to encourage families with one or two children to have more, you can only do this by offering much more support especially to families living in Tokyo..

6 ( +6 / -0 )

one thing japan should do is reduce work stress on women who want to conceive as balance of rest n work is directly related to fertility. The burden of work is way too much in Japan.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It's amazing how far the Japanese government will go in bending itself into pretzels to avoid the easiest and most obvious ways to help with the population problem. They need to ease immigration, plain and simple. And I'm not talking about simply extending a visa from one year to three, or three to five, but taking in refugees and giving nationality (dual nationality if requested!) to people who wish to come here from poorer nations.

And while this is welcome news to those seeking fertility treatment, and that is wonderful, it does NOTHING to help the situation Suga purports to be combatting. How about reversing the cut to the family tax break they did in 2008 (or whenever it was)? How about making childbirth covered under health care even if no complications are encountered? How about much more nursery school care, FREE, so that parents can pursue jobs after having a child... given that costs are so much higher to raise children and that is the primary reason most people aren't having (more of) them? No?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Like in many other western countries, Japan's declining fertility rate appears irreversible. This is the trend in most modern societies. More youth prefer to stay single, some would not want to have children after marriage.

In the final analysis, people wish to 'enjoy' life as much as possible and as long as they can. So, what to do?..

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A lot of you are really getting off topic. No one said covering some of the costs of infertility treatments will solve the declining birth rate perfectly, like some kind of magic wand. It is one part of a solution, not the full solution.

If they can start to cover simple things, such as drawing blood, blood analysis, x-rays, consultations, and stuff like that then it absolutely should be expanded. Even cutting just 1 million yen of costs will help immensely.

Also, they need to update the rules. Right now, only married couples can apply for the subsidies. But, what about couples who aren't married yet, women who haven't found the right partner yet, or lesbian couples? The Japanese infertility laws need to be updated to help people make families more easily. Not every couple, person, or family falls info a typical pattern, and they shouldn't be financially penalized for it.

Lastly, the infertility clinics have little to no regulation. One day I went with my partner to 3 different infertility clinics, and were quoted 3 different chances of a live birth (20%, 75%, 50%), 3 different prices (2million, 8million, and 5million), and even the price of medicine (in terms of injections, nose sprays, etc.) were different as well. Another clinic just straight-up lied about how skipping injections would have no affect on the infertility treatments. They need to be better regulated so they don't take advantage of desperate people, and patients don't need to do so much research and watching-their-backs.

Obviously the average person living in Japan doesn't know or maybe care at all about the unregulated mess that infertility treatments are. But, many people are passionate about it. So, the best way to sell it to the others is to relate it to the birth rate, which most people understand is a problem. In my opinion, this is just a way to sell people on it, rather than some kind of solution to the birth rate problem.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

From 2022 at earliest?

How many PMs Japan will get by that day?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

People from poor countries have more children yet happy living.

Women in these countries have little say on controlling their fertility, often there is little or no access to contraception, education, jobs. Usually they are married very young and are expected to have several children. Yet you know them all and say they are happy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If the cost ranges from 2 million yen in 4 years to 8.5 million yen over 6 years, THAT is very costly for something that still may have no guarantee of success. Better to throw such huge outlays into child care facilities which will benefit far more taxpayers and their children. I can't guarantee that more child care facilities will result in more couples having children, but it seems many of the previous JT commenters are in agreement that it will, plus it does meet an immediate need right now for far more married couples.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Lets do simple math.

The average contract or baito worker gets on average between 1000 yen to around 1200 yen.

Work 8 hours a day and and you have under 10,000 yen x 20 or 21 days a month and you have about 200,000

minus tax and your take home is about 160,000 yen.

Rent at a cheap apa-to in the suburbs about 60,000,food about 50,000,utilities,phone,households,miscellaneous,and you end up with zero or minus before the next pay.

Every woman I meet,the first question is,"Shigoto wa nani yatteru no?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Alfie

What a bizarre comment. Every single Japanese government for the past 110 years has intervened in family planning, birth control and contraception.

That's why I am critical to Japan's past birth management policy. Not to mention I am against a draconian control by the state such as "One Child policy" infringing on privacy rights. Overall state-led birth management seem to have been unsuccessful.

A radical solution is super-mass migration; open all state borders to let people move freely from overpopulated areas to underpopulated ones. It would be the most efficient, "win-win" rebalancing at the global level, in a more laisse-faire manner; but most unpopular, divisive and nearly impossible to implement.

Moskollo

Though commendable, the Japanese government are still barking up the wrong tree to increase the birthdate. This idea and the cash incentive for couples to get married misses the point, maybe they can’t have children or don’t want any.

That's my point, too. On the one hand there are couples unwilling/afford to have a child; on the other hands single pregnant women/mothers may face abortion risk, economic hardship and social negative stereotypes.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

According to the Japanese government the birthrate is 1.36 per 1,000; the point of no return is 1.8 per 1,000 and any population statistician will tell you it impossible to recover without massive influx of non-Japanese which is not going to happen. Actually, what the government doesn't tell us is the population should stabilize at approximately 80 million when the postwar generation goes up in smoke -- this should occur within the next 25 to 40 years...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Gotta push out all those new tax payers. (Fruity expression) the government is cynical bunch of muppets.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Not only population will not cease to drop in the late future (maths maths maths), but only the social worth of being a parent can make any change.

Most ladies nowadays, and especially in Japan, want : have fun when young (at least past 30) while taking advantage of parents, buy all useless material stuff (recent keitai, luxury bags and clothing, etc.) and don't want to have children too young because they wish to remain cute with unscathed body.

Hey in a free country, no one has the right to blame that behaviour.

A woman that starts having young children is seen as a failure, simply put.

I see it as just a celebration and respect.

How many comments here saying having children is boring, costly, tiring, unrewarding, etc. ?

My wife with 3 kids should be better paid to take care of them and receive consideration.

My sister is another example : one kid and prefer to have fun changing partner every few months instead of finding a "husband" (with the meaning of a respectful partner, not necessarily marriage) and have another baby that my nephew is asking for.

It is a choice of society.

If the majority of a society does not want to change, the change will come when poverty kicks back more and more at older ages (no more money in the coffers to pay because too many old compare to younger people) and at younger ages (no money to support the young fertile people because no money from the coffers nor other people).

Studying this trend, I tend to believe it is natural course when a society is in a state of enough collective average satisfaction. Until you hit the wall. Will Japan like many other countries now will forever be able to print money in zillions at will like those recent days ?

Personnally, I wanted children when young (started 26 and I think it is not that young at all) to be able to be fit when kids got teenagers whatever my financial situation. I worked hard to find money and surprise surprise you work even harder better stronger when you are confronted to feed your family, you find new ways to reach that goal if it is a must.

No must nowadays, in particular in Japan. Just individual pleasure for most if single so be it and we all face consequences. Not a problem for me fortunately but don't expect me to wipe even one old single bottoms later ;)

Fertility treatment : a wrong spending to a wrong problem especially in Japan where it appears that clinics are as corrupted as the politicians (See NAM's comment, personally I have no experience).

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Lots of issues involved here. I hope this helps couples who are having trouble conceiving, but there are so many other factors that are much larger. There is just a general unwillingness to have kids. Reasons include the expense of raising a child, lack of time because of work, just a desire for more personal freedom vs making the sacrifices necessary to raise kids.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This story differs to others about the birthrate because it is about people actively trying to conceive, not people putting off marriage or childraising for whatever reason. These people here want and are trying for kids regardless of what other people may think of the economy, the situation with childcare, parenting in Japan, etc. etc.

I don't know much about female fertility other than it declines as women get older, but multiple stories around the world have found sperm counts to be falling pretty much everywhere. This is of course a very worrying development. It also means that we should see fertility treatment as something that is going to be increasingly necessary and therefore deserving of increased government support. This support should ease the financial burden of treatment and should also set standards to ensure that couples get the best possible care.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

some experts say it may not be enough to boost the birth rate at a time when it is under fresh strain as the coronavirus pandemic darkens the economic prospects of working-age people.

Those "experts" are idiots. Rich people don't make many babies. Poor people pump them out like puppies. Is becoming an "expert" a matter of a die roll?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@Jonathan,

Great observation.

I met one J woman at work who is almost 40 and still lives with her parents.Not that her parents need her help but because its convenient for her.

And she invited me for lunch.She takes me to a very expensive restaurant.After lunch,she proceeds to take me to a street that has a line of brands where the cheapest shirt costs more than 20,000 yen and brand bags costing more than 100,000 yen and when we got there she was acting like a kid on her first expedition and insisting to me to start a shopping spree.Of course I had no interest and didn't buy.

I took her outside the shops sat her down and asked her what she plans to do with her future.She seemed clueless and surprised that I even asked her that question.She told me buying brands.I got bored and told her I'm going back home.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I have met countless single women in Tokyo who are late 30's to mid-40's who still think prince charming is on his way (delayed somehow for 20 years) and that they will have 1-2 beautiful children and live happily ever after.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Just have some K-pop boys group and AK-48 promote sex and family life and then BOOM! There you go this will start a baby boom and the salary men will go home early and they young kids will pair up marry and think this is the kawaii thing to do.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Help for infertile couples? Meanwhile there are about 40,000 children living in orphanages or institutionalized care homes in Japan who would love to have a stable and compassionate family to care for them. Single friends and couples whom I know have adopted Japanese children, but the government needs to grant more rights to the children. For a government that claims to value children so much, it needs to do more to help those who have been abused and neglected.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“So I’m someone’s mom!” Welcoming our first child, Cecily Philips Donnell, at 12:24 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14. We are absolutely head over heels in love with Cecily, and parenthood is already the most insane and beautiful thing in existence, It's made me excited to have a little spitfire of a daughter of my own. I remembered when i found out i was pregnant 3years ago and was about to walk away from the musical. But at eight weeks, i had a miscarriage. i was so unhappy, until i seek help spiritually from a Dr Iya the herbal practitioner, who helps and guide me to get pregnant again, even at the trying times few weeks in April when i battled symptoms of the coronavirus including "a cough that makes it feel like my head is splitting open from the inside out, but luckily, the baby was okay with the doctors help. i am happy to finally be a mother, couples out there that needs help, trying to conceive a baby, contact my doctor on nativeiyabasira@yahoo.com , you will definitely have a baby to make you a parent.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The best way to resolve this is to enable (financially and socially) willing couples to marry at a young age and then practice making babies until they get it right and then repeat. For too long young people have been penalized financially and socially for starting a family. Additionally, the entertainment industry has been bent, for many years, on making the family lifestyle uncool.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Those "experts" are idiots. Rich people don't make many babies. Poor people pump them out like puppies. Is becoming an "expert" a matter of a die roll?

One of the best things about centrists is that they cannot help themselves when thinking about poor people, and compare them to animals. It's really cool and definitely not a repulsive demonization of those unlike them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My husband and I wanted to have three kids, but stuck to two. This is why:

Wages are too low

Taxes, etc., are too high

Education is far too expensive

Working hours are too long

When we had our kids, preschool was not free, so we paid for all that. Now with two kids in a public junior high, the cost of juku is crazy. We literally have no money left at the end of the month. Next we have to pay for high school, more juku and university.

I think the main point is the cost of education. If education was completely free, people would have more kids. The mixed public/private system should be abolished. Just make all schools public.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fertility treatments will not solve the problem. But what about relieving couple hopes to contribute to it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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