Japan Local Govts Eyeing Bold Child-Rearing Support Measures
Tokyo, Feb. 21 (Jiji Press)--With the government of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida working to come up with "unprecedented" measures to raise the nation's sluggish birthrate, local governments in the nation are also racing to draw up their boldest steps ever for child-rearing under their respective budgets for fiscal 2023 from April.
The local government moves are encouraging, but at the same time are giving rise to concerns about regional gaps in support measures.
The national government has set up a program to provide benefits worth a total of 100,000 yen per baby for pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, the ruling and opposition camps are discussing, as centerpieces of the envisioned unprecedented measures, proposals to abolish the upper limits on parents' incomes for receiving existing child benefits and raise the age of children eligible for the aid, with the government set to present a draft in late March.
But the national initiatives met with criticism from Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. Slamming the state moves as "slow," Koike announced a plan in January to distribute 5,000 yen per month to all children aged 18 or under in Tokyo. At a Tokyo metropolitan assembly meeting earlier this month, she said: "The low birthrate is without doubt a national challenge that affects the existence of our country. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, will take the lead to bring about a change in thinking."
The prefectural government of Gifu, central Japan, plans to start giving 100,000 yen in cash as childbirth benefits for second and subsequent children.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]