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Japanese PM to lead panel on declining birthrate amid population crisis

Tokyo : Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will lead a panel of experts to reverse the country’s critical decline in birthrate, which dropped in 2022 to its lowest level since 1998, local media said on Thursday.

Along with Kishida, the expert panel will comprise Masanobu Ogura, the minister in charge of policies for children, groups working with children, and labour union representatives, reports Xinhua news agency.

Later this week, a policy to provide more support for parents, including raising child-rearing allocations and easing outlays on higher education borne by parents, will be compiled, public broadcaster NHK said.

The draft policy will set the parameters of the budget and how it will be financed, with the plan to inform a subsequent comprehensive policy package.

According to recent statistics from the Health Ministry, the birthrate in Japan last year plummeted to a record low since 1889, with the number of newborns dropping 5.1 per cent from the previous year to 799,728.

The falling birthrate and rapidly aging population are simultaneously hollowing out Japan’s taxpaying labour force, leading to Kishida vowing to double budget outlay for child-related programs.

Money allocated to help with child-rearing, coupled with ever-increasing massive outlays for social security costs related to the increasing population of seniors, who comprise a higher proportion of the population than in any country globally, is adding to the country’s fiscal woes.

Japan’s public debt stands at double the size of the country’s gross domestic product and is the worst among developed countries.

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