Japanese minister apologises for comment on Japan's shrinking population
smh.com.au -- Feb 06
Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso has reluctantly apologised for saying childless people are to blame for the country's rising social security costs and its aging and declining population.

"If it made some people feel uncomfortable, I apologise," Aso said on Tuesday after drawing complaints over a comment he made during the weekend at a seminar in Fukuoka, his constituency in southwestern Japan.

The gaffe-prone Aso, a 78-year-old former prime minister, is among conservative politicians in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government who have at times blamed the elderly or childless for long-term demographic trends.

"There are lots of strange people who say the elderly people are to blame, but that is wrong. The problem is those who don't have children," he told the audience.

The comment was nearly the same as one he made in 2014 that also drew criticism. Others have made similar comments that many found offensive. In 2007, former health minister Hakuo Yamagisawa called women "birth-giving machines". In 2017, another senior ruling party politician, Akiko Santo, said the government should consider awarding women who produced four or more children.

According to the latest government statistics, the number of births in 2018 fell to 921,000, the lowest since Japan began recording such statistics in 1899. Japan's total population fell by 448,000 people, a record decline, to 126 million. It is forecast to fall below 100 million by 2050, barring a huge influx of immigrants.

As of 2017, Japanese women on average gave birth to 1.43 children during their lifetimes. That compares with nearly 1.8 in the US and Britain.

News source: smh.com.au
May 24
Police in Japan are stepping up security for an upcoming visit by US President Donald Trump. (NHK)
May 22
Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday he plans to ask overseas media outlets to write Japanese names with the family name first, as is customary in the Japanese language. (Kyodo)
May 22
The Supreme Court and other legal professionals in Japan have hosted a symposium to mark the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the country's lay judge system. (NHK)
May 21
A Japanese lawmaker said Monday he will not resign as a Diet member after opposition parties submitted a joint motion urging him to quit for alluding to Japan waging war with Russia to regain control of a group of disputed islands. (Japan Today)
May 11
Japan has lodged a protest with North Korea following the country's launch of projectiles on Thursday. (NHK)
May 10
South Korea's military says North Korea apparently fired two short-range missiles that flew a maximum of 420 kilometers and fell into the Sea of Japan. (NHK)
May 08
Police are investigating witness reports of a drone being flown Monday evening near the Imperial Palace and other downtown Tokyo areas, after a number of similar sightings were noted last week following the ascension of Emperor Naruhito. (Japan Times)
May 08
The Defense Ministry has retrieved part of the flight data recorder from a F-35A stealth fighter that went missing last month, but it was heavily damaged and also did not include a storage device to record speed and altitude data, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters Tuesday. (Japan Times)
May 07
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Monday about their responses to the recent launches of projectiles by North Korea. (NHK)
May 04
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he maintains his goal of Constitution by 2020 as the country marked the 72th anniversary of the supreme law coming into force. (Japan Today)