Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech during a Diet session in the lower house of the Diet on Monday. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
politics

Kishida warns Japan on brink of social dysfunction amid falling birthrate

130 Comments

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned Monday that Japan is "on the brink" of losing its social function due to its rapidly declining birthrate, pledging to focus on child-rearing policies as the most pressing agenda item this year.

In his policy speech at the beginning of a 150-day regular Diet session, Kishida voiced his readiness to revive the world's third-largest economy, beset by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to play a leading role in diplomacy as this year's chair of the Group of Seven summit.

The prime minister also apologized for the resignations of four ministers within the span of around two months last year. They were effectively sacked in the face of criticism for scandals, including questionable links to the controversial Unification Church.

Kishida's address comes after a government estimate released in December showed annual births in Japan are likely to have fallen below 800,000 for the first time in 2022.

Calling policies aimed at facilitating child-rearing "the most effective investment for the future," Kishida vowed to "create a children-first economy and society" to reverse the country's plummeting birthrate that is hampering longer-term productivity growth.

As the Children and Families Agency, a new governmental body to oversee child policies, is scheduled to be launched in April, Kishida said his administration will map out an outline of a plan by June to double the budget related to child-rearing down the road.

"We will consider how society as a whole can stably support children while making various efforts," Kishida said, without elaborating on how to finance the costs.

On the macroeconomic front, Kishida called for lawmakers to join hands to put Japan on a "new growth track" in the wake of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

Kishida said wage expansion is a key to achieving a "virtuous cycle" of redistributing increased earnings of companies to their workers and stimulating consumer spending, which has been weighed down by the sharpest inflation in over 40 years.

Japan's core consumer price index, excluding volatile fresh food items, gained 4.0 percent from a year earlier in December, the highest level since 1981.

Kishida emphasized the need for wage growth that exceeds the current inflation rate, driven up by higher global food and energy prices in the wake of Russia's aggression against Ukraine since February last year.

As about three years have passed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Kishida expressed his intention to downgrade the legal status of COVID-19 this spring to a Class 5 disease, the same level as seasonal influenza.

He also said his government, formed in October 2021, will take the necessary steps to overcome the ongoing eighth wave of infections.

With Japan slated to host the G7 summit in May in his home constituency of Hiroshima, Kishida said he will show a strong commitment at the meeting to upholding a "free and open international order" based on the rule of law amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The premier added he will demonstrate unity at the G7 gathering in the western Japan city, devastated by a 1945 U.S. atomic bombing, while trying to strengthen ties with the "Global South," or developing nations in such areas as Asia, Africa and Latin America.

On national security, Kishida said his administration will "take measures" to procure sufficient funds to attain its goal of almost doubling its annual defense spending to around 2 percent of gross domestic product over the next five years, on par with NATO members.

In December, Japan decided to acquire enemy base strike capabilities to deter attacks on its territory and boost defense spending against a backdrop of mounting military threats from its neighbors -- China, Russia and North Korea.

Kishida, meanwhile, reiterated his eagerness to establish "constructive and stable" relations with China and "communicate closely" with South Korea.

Tokyo has been at odds with Beijing over Taiwan. Japan-South Korea ties have sunk to their worst level in decades under President Yoon Suk Yeol's predecessor, Moon Jae In, in the aftermath of a dispute over wartime labor.

In recent months, the approval ratings for Kishida's cabinet have been plunging as suspicious connections were revealed between many lawmakers belonging to his ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church, often labeled as a cult.

Kishida said he is taking issues surrounding the religious group, known for its aggressive donation solicitations and other fundraising practices, "seriously," adding the government will strive to prevent similar problems from happening again.

© KYODO

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

130 Comments
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Like eh hello. This has been news for yeeasrrs!!!

51 ( +56 / -5 )

Falling birthrates have been a big issue since the 90s when i first got here but not enough done by the same party that has always been in power. Time to let some younger people and women that are smarter and less corrupt run this country.

51 ( +57 / -6 )

Bad news guys, we're on the brink of losing our social function.

But on the good news side of things, we're doing a damn fine job of holding on to our stubbornness.

Hooray for us.

29 ( +47 / -18 )

Used to be a time when 1 wage was enough to support and raise a family.

Those days are long gone, and yet the administration thinks that by putting women into the work force and expecting them to have children AND continue their careers AND raise a family as well, not to mention being expected to take care of "husbands" the household and everything else, PLUS work too, without them having a decent wage or support system is the way to go?

Me thinks Kishida and all the others that think like him should be forced to take psychiatric evaluations and be hospitalized for treatment!

28 ( +40 / -12 )

Yeah, it’s great they are upping the lump sum. But it may not cover all of the birthing costs. Which is fine. But you still have to pay a fair amount out of pocket for prenatal check ups too.

Then there is the problem of child care. There aren’t enough teachers as is. So unless they make it easier for one of the parents to stay home and raise kids on a single income.

and

they improve childcare and make it cheaper for the parents who both want to work (not just in Tokyo) .

It’s not really going to work otherwise.

25 ( +27 / -2 )

Kishida's address comes after a government estimate released in December showed annual births in Japan are likely to have fallen below 800,000 for the first time in 2022.

I’m not sure that I would want to have children with a Japanese spouse who could easily sever my relationship with my young children at any time.

Japan is making progress in the field of joint custody after divorce, but the current plan is for joint custody to be an option only if both parents are in agreement.

And when they’re not in agreement, sole custody is the only choice. Historically, fathers and non-Japanese spouses have been the biggest losers when sole custody is the only option.

The government needs to fix this.

21 ( +41 / -20 )

Kishida said wage expansion is a key to achieving a "virtuous cycle" of redistributing increased earnings of companies to their workers and stimulating consumer spending, which has been weighed down by the sharpest inflation in over 40 years.

Here we go again. Didn't work with Abenomics and New Capitalism looks to have similar effectiveness. Radical measures are needed before Japan suffers more decline in the quality of life of the populace.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/thomas-piketty-capital-ideology

19 ( +27 / -8 )

For far too many years the LDP has kowtowed to it's strongest support base, the "elderly" and farmers. Senior citizens are the focus of the current social welfare system and there is strong opposition from them towards spending money on the future.

Where has the money gone from the increase in the consumption tax from 8% to 10%? THAT was supposed to be used for children and supporting families! Answers would be nice!

18 ( +24 / -6 )

Maybe he can stop house building companies building 5 houses on a plot that used to only have 1. Give families some garden space for their kids to enjoy.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Maybe if more Japanese companies paid a living wage as opposed to a survival wage, people would feel like having kids.

Great time to be a Vietnamese “skilled trainee” (vegetable picker, factory skivvy) though!

17 ( +52 / -35 )

There's always immigration ...

16 ( +35 / -19 )

No, it doesn't. I'd say in 99% of the cases, the child is better off with a Japanese mother than a foreign father.

You just saying it doesn’t make it true. I’d say in 99% of cases the child would be better off having contact with both parents rather than one being completely shut out. Most divorces aren’t the result of abuse that would justify cutting one parent out, there is no justification for a system that does that to kids with good parents who just happened to get divorced.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

I first heard this in 1991.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Once again, the J-Govt complaining that Japanese aren't being "productive".

Govts can encourage births by subsidizing things, making everyone in Japan pay so more children happen. Start by subsidizing liquor to help more mistakes and making access to abortions just a little harder. I joke, but ...

12 ( +16 / -4 )

This problem has been known for long in Japan. But the government did not do anything effectuve until it is becoming an imminent threat. My neighbor, father a truck driver and mother working at a nursery, has 4 children and live in 2DK small danchi house yet it costs them over 60,000 yen a month. This is ridiculous.

12 ( +20 / -8 )

Surely he meant to say "Japan is on the brink of social disfunction because it is still being run by mentally incompetent old men from the LDP."

11 ( +27 / -16 )

I think this is one of the first times I've agreed with every comment on a Japan Today article.

Nice to see almost everyone agrees that without better wages and more free time, the birthrate will continue to fall. There are so many little things they can do to fix this. Pursue fair overtime laws/regulations, increase wages, allow people to have second forms of income, subsidies and tax breaks, realistic rent/property pricing.... the list goes on forever. They aren't hard to do. They are very important just in terms of human rights. I really hope we see more than considerations or warnings from the LDP and maybe some real action.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

To encourage more children the government need to look past helping with just the birth, it has to help throughout the parenting process.

Given a choice of paying for children or enjoying themselves most young people would go for the latter.

Being a dad changed my life for the better, but it’s a constant game of chasing your tail. Why can only one parent get discounts for having dependents? the government need to be more sympathetic to the needs of lower income families..

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I'm glad to hear that you're "making various efforts".

10 ( +17 / -7 )

Japan is and will stay a " company first" economy. This toxic work culture ruins the whole country in all aspects.

10 ( +29 / -19 )

Sorry to say, Japan has terrible leadership. This is 100% the fault of the Japanese Government over the long decades of indifference.

10 ( +24 / -14 )

One thing that always strikes me about conversations around the birth rate is that nowhere the reasons such as personal satisfaction are mentioned.

People choose not only to not have kids, but also not to have partners. There's nothing wrong with either in and of itself. Both are deeply personal matters which are nobody's business except the person in question.

However, it seems to me the motivation and reasoning behind encouraging population growth is wrong from the get go. We are individuals with feelings, wishes, needs and dreams, but as long as the establishment sees women as baby-making machines and workers in general as capital generators, people won't just make this kind of immense life choices just because an out-of-touch guy in a suit says it's good for the economy. No matter how much money they throw at the problem.

Work to create a world in which people feel comfortable finding a partner and, potentially, having children rather than talking about personal choices as some kind of mathematical abstraction.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

One Japanese surgeon told me that in his opinion the Japanese government should have made things easier for young Japanese families starting off to get health care benefits, financial assistance on education and special loans for homes. Instead, he went on to say, the Japanese politicians have been too concerned with taking care of the elderly while neglecting young families.

It was my impression that he felt the Japanese politicians only had themselves to blame for the current birthrate mess Japan is in.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Ah.... immigration would seem like a a pretty easy fix.

But then doing business in English would seem like a pretty good idea (shock!)

9 ( +14 / -5 )

This buffoon remains committed to devaluing everyone's money and pushing the cost of living ever higher, and then complains that the birthrate is falling? What did he expect? Cost-push inflation has ruined every society it has been foisted on, and Japan is no exception. When people can't buy as much, they cut back. And they put off big expenses, including having children. You'd have more kids if you thought the cost of raising them would be lower in the future, wouldn't you? Would you have more if you knew the cost of everything was going up, up, up? To ask is to answer. And Kishida and the LDP have been pretty clear about what kind of quality of life they expect the serfs to have.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Just ban overtime. Up to eight hours works a day for every job, not a minute more. That one measure alone would see an economic and societal boom as people had more time to spend money, enjoy their lives, and have kids. Who can raise a family when you don't get home from work until 10 at night?

9 ( +17 / -8 )

Knock down all akiya and sell the land cheap to young families to build bigger houses.

Change building regulations so that all houses must be made from better, longer-lasting materials, have insulation, triple glazing, and maybe even solar panels.

Force businesses to pay for their employees commuting time, or let them work from home 3 days a week.

Limit overtime to 1 hour a day, and force those unproductive office ojisan to either pick up the slack or change the laws to make it easier to fire them.

Exponentially raise taxes on assets for the mega-rich, and use them to further subsidise salaries for daycare and elderly care facilities.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Easy fix:

Stop requiring salarymen to put in 75 hours a week. Saturdays and Sundays off, period. If the guy gets three weeks of vacation, then three weeks vacation he takes- mandatory... so there can be no unwritten penalties and shaming. And if he wants to take two of those three weeks off concurrently for a proper vacation abroad, then that's what he'll do.

And if we don't need to squeeze our workers for every ounce of life they have, there's no more point in treating junior high and high school students like they're constantly experiencing Hell Week training for the Navy Seals. No club activities until 7:00PM unless it's sports and there's an away game, no stepping foot inside of a school on the weekend, no commitments whatsoever during school vacation periods. If the child's family wants to take a two-week summer vacation to Europe and it conflicts with the table tennis schedule, then tough crap for the table tennis coach.

In a few words, stop allowing your citizens to be treated like crap from sunrise to 6 hours after sunset and you might get a little more enthusiasm about starting families.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

The bottom line is, as women become healthier, and much more educated, and become involved in the work force, they will never raise the brith rate no matter how much money or benefits they throw at it.

I think there's many women in Japan that not only want a successful career but also want children and a family.

There's no reason why Japanese women shouldn't be allowed or capable to have both.

It's disgusting to use the low birthrate as an excuse for women in Japan to not be able to join whatever workforce they are capable of.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

No, it doesn't. I'd say in 99% of the cases, the child is better off with a Japanese mother than a foreign father.

I don’t think the girl in the below YouTube TED Talk would agree. But perhaps she’s the 1%.

https://youtu.be/dsBSOgROu1w

As @rainyday stresses above, “in 99% of cases the child would be better off having contact with both parents rather than one being completely shut out.”

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Kisida and the LDP trying to blame the birthdate on the population.

How did he keep a straight face while he was spewing such nonsense.

His party have been in power for almost entirely the last 35 years it is their policies that have created this situation.

35 years ago Japan was awash in cash and had the perfect opportunity to address the looming demographic crisis……instead they just continued building roads to nowhere and white elephants. Instead of supporting the people of Japan.

The LDP made its own bed

8 ( +17 / -9 )

Ditto the house-building complaints mentioned above. Near where our church is, a beautiful old family house with about an acre of land around it has just been demolished and they are now cramming 16 newbuilds cheek by jowl onto this former green space, which have no gardens and are totally identikit. In my home country, these 'houses' would be considered glorified garden sheds. Who wants children in an environment like that?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I would be very worried about the Japanese pension schemes in the future. It's not sustainable. The average payout is 150000 yen a month for 1 of the schemes and just 65000 yen month for the other scheme. You need 40 years of contributions to get the full payment. Might be best to start a plan B for your retirement plans.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

No club activities until 7:00PM unless it's sports and there's an away game, no stepping foot inside of a school on the weekend, no commitments whatsoever during school vacation periods. If the child's family wants to take a two-week summer vacation to Europe and it conflicts with the table tennis schedule, then tough crap for the table tennis coach.

Yeah I notice that a lot too. Many elementary school kids getting dropped off at Kumon after 6:00pm and then getting ready to go home at 9:00pm, junior high and high school kids coming home from club activities at 9:00pm, when do these kids eat dinner with their family?

And yes, I would imagine how hard it is to schedule a family trip since it was already difficult enough to try to schedule a trip to my home town overseas with my wife.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Concern is way late, of course. At least 25 years.

Gotta stop a lot of problems that won't help enough, but one thing for Kishida to say to Japan: Quit hammering the nail that sticks out back in.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

But why is there an issue with child birth in Japan?

I can think of several reasons, but not so sure. From more to less obvious:

Money

Time (excessive working hours)

Lack of couples

Lack of interest in having kids

I sometimes get the impression that Japanese men/women are not so interested in having a family and more into developing/enjoying themselves.

I would appreciate any comments about this as I feel I might be wrong about it.

But yeah, money and time is indeed a big issue.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Or.....hear me out here!

They can build more kindergarten centers/daycares, train more people to help take care of the kids in those places and abolish the whole idea of a long waiting list of kids to get into a daycare or kindergarten. make it easier and more affordable to get into by making the newer centers government funded like the public schools. Doing this would ease a lot of parents' minds by knowing they can return to work and carry on with their careers.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

On the same frontpage -

"Court orders Japanese gov't to pay damages over forced sterilization"

You couldn't make it up.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I would be very worried about the Japanese pension schemes in the future.

Just see it as a tax, and start investing for yourself

6 ( +7 / -1 )

That said, Japan's birthrate is still middling when compared to the most culturally appropriate places, i.e., well-off countries in east and south-east Asia. The birthrate is lower in South Korea, Sing, Taiwan, HK etc. Are those places also "dysfunctional"? 

Actually yeah they are. Or more accurately they will be since birth rates fell below replacement levels later in those countries than Japan, so the effects will hit them a bit later. But this is a huge issue in South Korea (which has a lower birth rate than Japan) and China (which announced its first population decline just a few days ago) and basically fear the exact same effects that Japan does.

I suspect that the better status of women in those countries compared to Japan has actually sent their birthrates even lower.

Not sure that I follow. South Korea and China score almost as badly as Japan does in gender equality rankings.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Used to be a time when 1 wage was enough to support and raise a family.

It also used to be a time when everyone, including foreigners, got a good "Japanese bonus" (paid 15 months for 12 months) and unlimited term contracts for everyone, too. But, those days are long gone, too. Yet, TV is still showing those good family lifestyle commercials where the wife stays home while the husband goes to work and the kids are happy in the morning.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@finally rich

No idea what you are on about again!!

4 ( +13 / -9 )

125,000,000 is more than enough!!

Other nations of 5,000,000 are doing just fine, you don't need to be a super power working your people to death.

3 ( +17 / -14 )

Other nations of 5,000,000 are doing just fine

Yeah, see how “fine” those nations of 5,000,000 would be if half their population was over 60, which is where Japan is heading.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Japan would be a better country with a population of around 50 million. The problem is getting there - managing a declining population over a period of probably half a century will obviously bring huge problems economically. But realistically I think this is what is going to happen - to not only slow down but reverse the declining birth rate would require the kind of radical changes that Japan either cannot or will not make and it would also cost a fortune. Japan might be better off trying to find ways to manage a declining population rather than making half-baked efforts to encourage more people to have children which more than likely won’t work.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Not to mention, almost half of the workforce in Japan is in yearly (tri-monthly many times) haken contracts system. Nowhere outside Japan I've seen this system.

Honda's employees work at Honda and make all engineering work for Honda, yet they are not Honda's employees.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Getting your child into daycare in the Tokyo metro area is based on a scoring system, and very challenging to get them in. Nearly impossible if you weren’t already working full time before.

If women didn’t have to choose between a career or child, maybe more would be willing to do so.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It was around the time of PM Hatoyama in 2009, that companies moved to use temporary workers in place of full-time staff, more than 50% of their work force, spawning hundreds of personnel agencies with millons of workers on benefit-less contracts, giving them freedom of movement in return for no financial security.

The companies benefitted from lower wage bills, flexible workforce, and being able to get rid of some older workers on higher pay.

Problems quickly arose when the temp workers doing the same job as full-time employees, found themselves on much lower salaries, no benefits, and no job security. Work could not be extended due to regulations, unless with a different agency. Companies were also in disarray every March, as they tried to secure a work force for the next year. Even government ministries had more than half of their staff applying for their own job every year with a different personnel agency.

Now with low salaries, job insecurity, no benefits, etc., no wonder few want marriage, family and children.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

So it's "boost military spending" and "do whatever is necessary to raise the birthrate"? Ha, ha, ha....

3 ( +9 / -6 )

raise prices, raise taxes, work people unpaid overtime so they have no time and no money, and HEY why don't people want to make babies? hmmm

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It takes 20 years for the baby to contribute to the workforce. It seems, that for the past 80 years there has been four cycles of HOW DO WE REDUCE the population to HOW DO WE INCREASE the population. A sustainable Japan is about 80 million, so we have a few more years to reduce the birthrate and have old folks die. The problem is that Japan overshot the sustainable level and now has to go through a difficult time until a balance is met. Meanwhile, improved health care and longer active lifetimes allows those over 65 to contribute to the workforce as well as women whose children have left the nest.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

We’re having our first child here, it’s not welcome to become a citizen. We pay a lot of tax and I have a highly skilled visa.

Very few countries in the world give citizenship through jus soli. The standard world-wide is to NOT provide citizenship based on jus soli: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli

Japan is following the norm for this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It’s called the “Zoo Effect.” It means animals will not reproduce if the environment is not suitable. Japan has a workaholic, joyless culture that is made for and run by old men. Combine that with wages that haven’t significantly moved since 1995 and you can see why you have more chance of becoming a hikikomori than a member of a happy family. I think we are beyond committees here…

2 ( +20 / -18 )

I've been looking into cyclical history as per the likes of Oswald Spengler amongst others and maybe Japanese people have just stopped caring? Don't forget, they have been forced into this system of 'modern society' and I can understand why they might not be completely enthusiastic about it. Exhorting them from above to perpetuate an existence that is meaningless other than to produce a number consisting of ever more digits gives off the feeling of shouting at chickens in a coop for not laying enough eggs when they'd be happier in a more natural (or traditional, for humans) environment.

GDP in the abstract is meaningless for any single man or woman when they have more immediate concerns in their daily life..

2 ( +5 / -3 )

TOKYO

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned Monday that Japan is "on the brink" of losing its social function due to its rapidly declining birthrate

proceeds to do nothing about inflation and raises taxes to pay for expansion of military

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The amount of money that the government offers for a child is not nearly enough to help raise a child. Yes, it's nice to get but it is not very helpful.

Then, there is daycare which is very expensive and a headache to get.

The government pushes for more children but at the same time, they also push for Women to work. Which do you want, Women to work or more children?

Families are being pulled apart because of this and with the cost of living lately in Japan, both the Husband and Wife need to work full time jobs and still have trouble getting by.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A more accurate representation of the current Japanese reality would be a couple slaving away at dead-end baito jobs for 1,000 yen an hour (the US minimum wage c. 1986).

US minimum wage in 2023 = 7.25$ an hour.

Just sayin.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

US minimum wage in 2023 = 7.25$ an hour.

33 states in the United States have higher minimum wages than the federal rate (plus military rates on federal bases) – on top of this an additional 42 city-level subdivisions having different minimum wage rates and 53 counties. In effect, the United States has over 100 different minimum wages across the nation. This is common in federal nations

As of January 3, 2022, effective state minimum wage rates range from US$7.25 to US$15.00 per hour, with an average of about $12.00 across all minimum wage workers as of 2019

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan dropping to a population of 53 million in 78 years is a fascinating prospect. That's not much more than the current population of the Kanto plain. Should be a lot faster to drive around in Setagaya Ku. Or maybe not. The surf will be a lot less crowded though.

But there's no way the government will significantly alter this trajectory, for a range of reasons. You can't just ask people to have more babies in a contemporary landscape - simply isn't going to work. Of course, immigration is an obvious solution, but there is no way the Japanese people want that. My guess is they'd much rather be a nation of 53 million than multicultural. Many still don't even want to sit next to me on the train, and my bathing routine is down pat.

It makes me think there is going to be some fabulous land buying opportunities in the next 80 years though, something my kids and grand kids might benefit from substantially. Any hot tips for real estate, folks?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Absolutely no quick fix to this, but the government has basically just been working against itself every chance it got. I can in some way understand Japan not wanting to ease up their immigration but they need to treat their foreign population they already have with respect, no need to try to push out people that are already here contributing to your country.

I honestly don't understand how average families here are living with more than one kid, I make well into the 6 figures and I'm not looking to get more than one. For foreign people living here on an average salary it sounds even harder, looked at tickets to europe for the summer and they were up at 80万 for 3 people, not a fun price to pay if you are an english teacher.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Dang! Great comments section and almost no one biting on each other's behind.

Probably because no one is benefiting from this stupidity.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned Monday that Japan is "on the brink" of losing its social function due to its rapidly declining birthrate

There's plenty of couples that want to have children but haven't managed to conceive.

Yet the procedure for helping fertilization is prohibitively too expensive.

Creating an agency that will supposedly create more funding to support children 'down the road' is hardly encouraging is it !

My opinion is the most dysfunctional part of society is Kishida himself and his pea brained inability to make wise decisions.

Hence the worst approval rating of any government leader in the history of Japan

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Kishida warns Japan on brink of social dysfunction amid falling birthrate

oh REALLY?

thanks for the tip, Kish

maybe next you’ll tell us holding the Olympics and paying for that horrible funeral we’re also bad ideas?

keep up the good work there, kish

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The bottom line is, as women become healthier, and much more educated, and become involved in the work force, they will never raise the brith rate no matter how much money or benefits they throw at it. Not unless the benefits of having 3 kids financially benefits the whole family, which once the kids grow up benefits the country. Look at Korea, the UK, France, Germany,Spain, Italy,Russia etc etc. Sadly! You would literally have to pay women to have kids to increase the birth rate.Or dare I say it, the "I" word.IMMIGRATION. or we work until we die. The worlds population will decline as every country becomes richer, healthier, cleaner, and with more choices. .Even China, and India. So maybe it's better to stop growing economically and just manage the balance and focus on making the people happy.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

They need to send across the message to the citizens that it's their patriotic duty to raise a family for the sake of the country.

Not sure if this was meant to be satire or not since of course the problem is that for decades the LDP policy amounted to little more than just that - a bunch of out of touch 70 year olds lecturing young people that it was "their patriotic duty to raise a family for the sake of the country".

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Why's he saying this though? A child born today wouldn't be working until 2043, it's too late. Are they going to open the door to immigration?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan’s failure to establish a decent minimum wage can be Directly related to Japan’s low birth rate. For decades, Japanese women have foregone having more children because they could not afford to have more children with the meager earnings. they were bringing home. Japan must establish a decent minimum wage to increase its population.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think Japanese are so mentally and physically exhausted its beyond their strength to have kids.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Dang! Great comments section and almost no one biting on each other's behind.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's clear that the birth rate is declining, but I thought that Japan's food shortages were approaching, and the priorities that should be considered as problems were different.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

More soundbites from Kishi the clown! So his genius idea is to raise taxes then, that'll make them pop kids out eh!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sounds like a bad joke.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Kishida is right up there with his warnings-his finger is right on the pulse!

Good to know that the country is being taken care of.

Now, if only he could learn to use Zoom and give up his jet planes then he’d kickstart an economic boom!

0 ( +11 / -11 )

125,000,000 is more than enough!!

Other nations of 5,000,000 are doing just fine, you don't need to be a super power working your people to death.

↑this! even excluding the elders, Japan is still a highly populated nation, just imagine while you're sleeping there is a whole army working 24h in combinis, lunch box factories, in the cold repairing roads still in perfect conditions, I've seen all this in my work.

Japanese people (and even foreigners living here) are tired of this way too fast pace, try living at any japanese capital with half a million people and you can truly enjoy a very pleasant Japan, 4:30pm and you're back home to your family.

Honestly, why have a child if both parents spend the whole day outside to pay all the bills? This is crazy, unnatural, not even life in my opinion.

"Brink of social dysfunction" = please churn out more tax-payers for us please

0 ( +11 / -11 )

Well...

Pregnancy not covered by health insurance.

Birth not covered by health insurance. (A little congrats money tho)

Child money is a joke and gets lower (from 15k to 10k yen a month) after the child gets 3 years old. And when it out of elementary school it's 0yen.

That's when the school etc getting more and more expensive. (Monthly fee and uniforms, clubs etc)

Sorry 2 kids is my limit and I am not sure if I stay here in Japan with them ;)

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Making "a task force" and looking at increasing the birthrate. Let's see, where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, back in 1985 when this became a serious foreseeable problem.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

on the brink of social dysfunction

In other words, the plebs are signaling they’ve had enough, are as mad as hell, and aren’t going to take it any more.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When LDP politicians say this in wonderment, I feel it is sort of head-smacking stupid.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Immigration, at least the way other countries do it, will never happen in Japan because it would threaten the power structure.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Like many of the readers of this article, I don't think having a BIG population is necessarily the right choice going forward for such a developed country as Japan. Moreover, Immigration will never catch on as a means to make up the so called short fall - outside of the twenty or so major cities, the cultural vibe of each prefecture takes years to even partially understand and often causes disappointment on both sides. Whatever billionaires such as Musk have to say about "the end of Japan", the country will thrive in its own way

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is it necessary to increase military spending that much? Japan should not retain its military strength....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese students are not interested in politics.Because of that, Japan pretends to have policies for the elderly.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Young people are the future of Japan and the world!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Economic development and population increase seem to be intertwined with each other very closely. So, countries with a declining birth rate will have no bright future for economic development as against countries with an increasing population.   

If people are accustomed to a small family and hence a lower birth rate, that promises them their personal prosperity and happiness, birth rate will certainly decline. Japan may be a case in point. So may be South Korea and China.

The U.S. and India are seeing a population increase right now, whereby their economic development is more than assured. But someday the increasing birth rate will level off, as a result, making economic development reach the ceiling. Nothing is everlasting on earth. Everything is just ephemeral as a classic Japanese literally essay, “Tsuredzure-gusa,” incisively pointed out.

.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry, I mixed up "Tsuredzure-gusa” (Essays written leisurely as a fancy takes me) with "The Tale of the Heike" (Story about rise and fall of the Heike clan). In the introduction of the latter, it says:

  The pealing of the bells of the Jetavana temple ring with the sound of the impermanence of all material things. The color of the paired Sala trees gives witness to the truth that all who flourish must necessarily perish. Those who flaunt their pleasures are not long for the world; they are as brief as the dream of a Spring night. And the brave ones are vanquished in the end; they are merely as specks of dust before the wind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My personal translation:

"The toll of bells at the Jetavana Monastery sounds like it's telling worldly things are just fleeting and ephemeral. The color of the flowers of Sala trees tells the irresistible truth that the flourishing will eventually come to an end like spring night's dream. The strong will vanish like dust blown by winds."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps if people did jobs which actually benefitted society, in terms of healthcare, farming, food production etc, then it wouldn't be such an issue. The issue around the world is this competitive mindset that we've got to be the best at everything, instead of just 'being'. Having a great economy is all very well and good, but what good is it when there's no food. Farming needs to be encouraged, and globally farming needs to be changed into a prosperous career opportunity. Change is possible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My children are 25 years old and 22.

There isn’t anyway that I could support a family at the present time like I was able to years ago. I make 60,000 yen a month less than when they were small.

Any couple that chooses to start a family in Japan now, good luck and plan on eating lots of rice balls.

-1 ( +22 / -23 )

Wow, a slightly higher level of comprehension. Up to now, they have thought and forced to slow down and decrease everything and keeping it percentage balanced, a downturn with included parallelization so to say. But as many have already said for years, that’s an illusion and can’t work. Once again, capitalism is nothing else than growth. And therefore by logic, if he wants his new capitalism, then he just needs new growth on all fields, which of course includes higher birth rates, wage raises, more innovations in economy and so on. It means growth in everything, such simple it is.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Awa no GaijinToday  01:37 pm JST

The bottom line is, as women become healthier, and much more educated, and become involved in the work force, they will never raise the brith rate no matter how much money or benefits they throw at it. 

I think there's many women in Japan that not only want a successful career but also want children and a family.

There's no reason why Japanese women shouldn't be allowed or capable to have both.

It's disgusting to use the low birthrate as an excuse for women in Japan to not be able to join whatever workforce they are capable of.

I’m sorry maybe you misunderstood my intentions. We are all for women and men having a family and working. But the reality is, as developing countries become richer, more educated, healthier, and wealthier, women who traditionally,( as they developed) looked after the children and the main economic driver was increased child birth rates because previously children died from malnutrition, poor health care etc etc , but as they all become more educated and wealthier, families, men and women, do NoT want a large family. So ofcourse women should enter the work force but sadly it is men who still expect women to do most of the child rearing. As the family become richer, and healthier they wish to spend their disposable income on university or the traveling abroad. So no matter how much money the Japanese government through at the problem women don’t want to have 3 or 4 kids. Ofcourse there are, but as past birth rates around the globe show, women are making different choices than their grandmothers. And that’s for the good of themselves and their families. Sorry if you misunderstood my previous comments. But I support any man or women who wants a family and a career. It just so happens people want to enjoy the freedom the money, career and a smaller family brings them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Is there any information on the number of young, ambitious women leaving Japan for countries where they can have a rewarding career path?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Very few countries in the world give citizenship through jus soli. The standard world-wide is to NOT provide citizenship based on jus soli: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli

Japan is following the norm for this.

> Very few countries in the world give citizenship through jus soli. The standard world-wide is to NOT provide citizenship based on jus soli: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli

Japan is following the norm for this.

I think you miss my point. We’re not from a country that peope don’t want to migrate too, infact most Japanese people I know say they’d like to live there or at least visit.

I’ll be totally fine with heading back someday.

The actual point is if you’re country is facing “social dysfunction” due to a population collapse , it might be a good idea to you know…not follow the norm so you could…solve the problem which might have to involve some immigration / acceptance of white and black coloured people ?

If the population is about to collapse then an educated man might ask themselves, what’s left to protect ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"the most effective investment for the future," Kishida vowed to "create a children-first economy and society" to reverse the country's plummeting birthrate that is hampering. Ie they just realized that Japan inc won’t have enough workers to exploit.

We will consider how society as a whole can stably support children while making various efforts," Kishida said, without elaborating on how to finance the costs

pretty vague. ‘can buy war toys and then see what’s left over after taxing prospective parents into poverty.

his administration will "take measures" to procure sufficient funds to attain its goal of almost doubling its annual defense spending to around 2 percent of gross domestic product over the next five years

so there you go, war toys first’ children as a “priority” not so much.

‘he is as fluffy as a hotel pillow.

-2 ( +19 / -21 )

David, 90% don’t live in Japan. Because it not overtime here it’s working hours. My girlfriend was pulling 1100 yen an hour still pitiful but above minimum wage worked consistently 10 to 20 hours over 40 hours and if paid for any extra hours over 40 would be at normal rate. That over a decade and at many different companies. So any minimum wage earn would be class irresponsibility to even have a relationship let alone start a family.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I would be very worried about the Japanese pension schemes in the future. It's not sustainable. The average payout is 150000 yen a month for 1 of the schemes and just 65000 yen month for the other scheme. You need 40 years of contributions to get the full payment. Might be best to start a plan B for your retirement plans.

They can always print more yen, so you will get your pension -- the problem is the currency won't be worth anything by the time we get to retire.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

At this point salaries would need to be doubled and working hours would need to be halved to make a real difference, and that's just for a start.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

We’re having our first child here, it’s not welcome to become a citizen. We pay a lot of tax and I have a highly skilled visa.

silly place…

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The standard of living in Japan is falling for sure, and it's a huge problem that affects the vast majority of us. Affording a family should be a human right for full time workers, and something has gone drastically wrong because this is no longer the case.

That said, Japan's birthrate is still middling when compared to the most culturally appropriate places, i.e., well-off countries in east and south-east Asia. The birthrate is lower in South Korea, Sing, Taiwan, HK etc. Are those places also "dysfunctional"? I dislike the LDP but you can't blame them for low birthrates across Asia. I suspect that the better status of women in those countries compared to Japan has actually sent their birthrates even lower. fwiw, I doubt I could have afforded three kids in my own country, the UK, with the problem being that we couldn't afford a big enough house in a part of the country we'd would want to live in.

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:LqlbIzG9_DkJ:https://www.economist.com/asia/2022/05/19/asias-advanced-economies-now-have-lower-birth-rates-than-japan&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=jp

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

gives off the feeling of shouting at chickens in a coop for not laying enough eggs

Exactly !

And during a pandemic.

The LDP are brainwashed into believing robotics and AI systems are the solution to a declining birthrate.

So it's more than reasonable to assume the LDP doesn't actually give a flying fortunate about the declining birthrate.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

What lame Ai wrote this speech?

I wonder did some buddies nephews neices aunts kids startup land a ginza steak contract for this extra fat? Whats this PR for kids?? Cut the filler and just more of the same Looters Taking vs Paying Loot

Taking Actions vs the Lip service

--NO loot here

warned, pledging, focus, pressing, voiced, readiness, play, Calling, aimed, vowed oversee, scheduled, map out, outline, plan, "will consider" , various efforts, without elaborating on how

called for, join hands, because coronavirus 2019, emphasized, because Russia Ukraine

Kishida expressed, intention, the necessary steps, show, will demonstrate

while trying to

-- Oh ¥

¥ ¥ new governmental body

¥¥ ¥ will "take measures" procure sufficient funds almost doubling annual defense spending

¥ ¥¥ decided to acquire enemy base strike

¥¥¥ boost defense spending

--No Loot here either

Kishida, meanwhile

reiterated, eagerness, "communicate closely"

? ?? unfication Church, often labeled as a cult.

said… taking issues "seriously" … will strive

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

This is so funny. You guys have never heard of the Oyagi-gag! It's literally a slap in the face to this society.

We are raising taxes. We aren't increasing salaries.

Kishida: Hey, I heard that you guys aren't having children. What gives?

** Goes in the back and starts ROFLMAO.

Nobody is at the helm of this ship. They took the last lifeboats a long time ago.

Kishida: There's an iceberg up ahead.

Japan: What's he saying?

Kishida: Gesticulating wildly! Iceberg bro!

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

It takes 20 years for the baby to contribute to the workforce.

That's not entirely true or accurate !

Because the children of self employed businesses commonly help out at a young age.

and part time work can start at 16 yrs old in Japan.

Not at 20 yrs old !

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Lots of women are more concerned about exploring their sexuality,than bearing children, experiencing the pleasure of sex instead of giving birth,no man should ever question a woman,how she chooses to use her body,either for sex or childbearing

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I hear comments about low wages. This dynamic is due solely to the Japanese worker/ management relationship. At present which has always be the way the management have the working class with their heel firmly of the throat of a livable income. It will not be lifted until educated workers start demanding decent minimum wage comparable to other western nations and pay for actual time worked. I known for decades the 10 to 20 hour of unpaid time per week is just an exceptionally fact by Japanese workers. At present to minimum wage needs to be At no less the 1700 yen a hour and all businesses can afford. No doubt will come comments of this will brake small businesses. No it won’t you are are gullible work who been lied to all your working life.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Make love hotels free or subsidized for young couples.

Promote more sexually promiscuous geinojin.

Won't work, because even if the woman gets pregnant, if the guy won't marry her, she will get an abortion. Spend 500 bucks to save 500,000 bucks over the long term.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Social dysfunction? There is already total social dysfunction in Japan. And it's still not bad comparatively. Try Korea at 0.7

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned Monday that Japan is "on the brink" of losing its social function due to its rapidly declining birthrate,"

LDP is fully responsible for this as they have dithered for decades without addressing the problem, instead they have held dozens of useless "expert meetings" and kicked the can down the road year after year after year.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Make love hotels free or subsidized for young couples.

Promote more sexually promiscuous geinojin.

Have more couples be in love instead of dudes going to hostess bars, and soap lands.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Kishida warns Japan on brink of social dysfunction amid falling birthrate

Japan is not on the brink of anything. Japan just wants more slave labour.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Who had done nothing about falling birthrate is nothing but present LDP regime including Kishida.

-6 ( +10 / -16 )

They can always print more yen, so you will get your pension -- the problem is the currency won't be worth anything by the time we get to retire.

So glad I can pay into the UK pension from Japan. I can live on a combination of the Japanese and UK pensions.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

That said, Japan's birthrate is still middling when compared to the most culturally appropriate places, i.e., well-off countries in east and south-east Asia. The birthrate is lower in South Korea, Sing, Taiwan, HK etc.

Hmm..well Hongkong and Taiwan aren't countries !

The article is about Japan so why compare anyway ?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

TV is still showing those good family lifestyle commercials where the wife stays home while the husband goes to work and the kids are happy in the morning

A more accurate representation of the current Japanese reality would be a couple slaving away at dead-end baito jobs for 1,000 yen an hour (the US minimum wage c. 1986). And they have to maintain the facade of politeness while living these shitty fake lives. A cruel system. Everyone is an actor in Japan.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Well, do something to help pople to make it easier for them to bring children..

Think of your people first instead of pandering to the whims of the US-NATO circus..

-7 ( +10 / -17 )

What a bunch nannies! Aren’t they capable of nutting out a plan ‘in the rich country’ to compensate for the low birth rate?

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

I’m not sure that I would want to have children with a Japanese spouse who could easily sever my relationship with my young children at any time.

I bet if you asked one of those men ( and even a few women), they'd say its "Japanese culture" for a woman to cut ties with the father and that "its in the best interest of the children" and "the woman is probably trying to escape an abusive father/husband " Thats the mindset of these people.

-8 ( +13 / -21 )

his administration will map out an outline of a plan by June

love these. We will think about thinking about a plan to begin a committee to investigate the possibility of the likelihood of ….

meanwhile, Armageddon! As in, ‘ah-ma geddin’ outa here! There’s no future in Japan. The wolves circling the cabin are just holding out until the occupants are too weak and depleted to hold them off. By then the dinosaurs in power will all be dead, so they don’t care about our kids.

-8 ( +13 / -21 )

They need to send across the message to the citizens that it's their patriotic duty to raise a family for the sake of the country.

Of course before they could do that they have to educate the people raise awareness on the extent of the problem

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Very ambitious plan. Very ambitious plan. I have children but if I were in my 20’s now with the pandemic, uncertain job outlook, and entertainment options on the internet then it is hard to see a lot of benefit having kids and being forced into work slavery for the next 25 years. My Japanese wife is a genius because she absolutely refused to ever work not even a part time job. Brilliant!

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

Geez... if only you'd been warned about it for several DECADES! Here's what YOU, Kishida, can do. Stop the increased defense budget, right now. Put all of that money into programs that will benefit families and actually encourage people to want to have children -- not just a one-shot 50,000 - 100,000 yen. Open up FREE daycare facilities across the nations, set up support lines for families (particularly young mothers who might feel overwhelmed), make baby birthing free of charge and set up hospitals that will accept soon-to-be mothers immediately (not have them ride around in ambulances, rejected until their deaths), set up free education for children through to university, eliminate the "internship program" in favor of fast-tracking to permanent visas for skilled workers and allow easier permanent visas.

You would still have enough money left over to do so much more to create the desire for people to have families here. But, you won't do that. You'll keep the defense budget where it is so you can buy American fighter jets and weapons, and start creating your own, raise taxes and health care costs, increase the age at which you can start to receive a pension while "encouraging" the elderly to work, and demand young people cooperate and have children that will be born in a hundred million yen in debt or more.

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

i am not surprised at all.

in country where LDP do nothing to support families with kids.

there is no motivation to have more than one kid because of costs for all period from born until ending of school and start of work somewhere is simple very expensive thing for many.

in society where young generation prefers more virtual contacts,online games,many applications but loosing common sense for normal human life and interaction,when very few have plans to marry and many have no plans at all.

in society where carreer in company for many women more important than motherhood and when they are becoming 40+ cant get pregnant anymore.

in country where to have nice pricey dog,car,overseas trips and "brand goods" is more important than to have kids.

Fumio - LDP just /you now what/ up all jpn society.

its about one minute to 12 to do something.

give money for families raising kids,abolish VAT for basic food.provide assistance with schooling fees.at least these things need be done very ASAP.

US weaponry shopping must wait.no more foreign menaingless trips,its time to solve problems at home but not by empty talk but actions.

stop talk crap its about time for action!

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

Honda's employees work at Honda and make all engineering work for Honda, yet they are not Honda's employees.

Yep. The last thing a company like Honda wants to do is actually pay their staff directly, since then they will be on the hook for health insurance and pension payments. I work for a company where most of the workers are on crappy haken contracts with zero stability.

Also, all the people saying "reduce overtime"....do you not understand how Japan works?! The only way to make any money in Japan is to work overtime!

-9 ( +11 / -20 )

Japan needs to realize they only succeeded in the 20th century because their only competition was the US, who was propping them up to counteract the Soviet Union. WW2 destroyed every other country.

There's nothing special about Japan. Now that other countries have built up their industrial base and are moving up the value chain, we're seeing Japanese industries unable to compete with stronger non-Japanese industries.

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

"We will consider how society as a whole can stably support children while making various efforts," Kishida said, without elaborating on how to finance the costs.

Consider,pledge,elaborate,these are the words that these old Japanese oyaji right wingers are saying from years without delivering a single good solution for the many problems that this declining country is facing.

High social pressure,high taxes,low incomes,corruption,revisionism.

I say this for the expats that are living here,if you have a chance leave this country to better places.

-11 ( +8 / -19 )

Japan will be forced to incentivize foreigners to come her within the next 30 years to replace skilled labor which is hilarious considering the underlying xenophobia

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Brilliant comments today....in fact Im left speechless, there is nothing to add that has not been said before...Well said Gaijintachi ( 外人たち)

-15 ( +3 / -18 )

@Awa no Gaijin

It's disgusting to use the low birthrate as an excuse for women in Japan to not be able to join whatever workforce they are capable of.

Japanese boys are pretty insecure about their femininity, and they take it out on their women.

-15 ( +3 / -18 )

In this grossly over -populated country and indeed world, a falling birth rate is excellent news. Ecology before economy.

-21 ( +6 / -27 )

And when they’re not in agreement, sole custody is the only choice. Historically, fathers and non-Japanese spouses have been the biggest losers when sole custody is the only option.

The government needs to fix this.

No, it doesn't. I'd say in 99% of the cases, the child is better off with a Japanese mother than a foreign father.

-31 ( +0 / -31 )

There's always immigration ...

Hell no!

Only people with the slightest interest in the japanese culture and language should be allowed in!

Not a Japan die-hard fan, just someone who can actually understand what kind of place they will live in.

Came to Japan already speaking fluent japanese (JLPT N1 ) and knowing the basic customs, and even then things were difficult.

If someone can't even read or write basic japanese it means this person can be replaced by a robot.

-35 ( +11 / -46 )

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