Japanese prime minister lays out plan to reverse falling birth rate

TOKYO, Mar 18 (NHK) - Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has laid out his vision to reverse Japan's plummeting birth rate, a key pillar of which is boosting parental leave benefits.

Kishida said on Friday that the next six to seven years will be Japan's last chance to reverse its declining birth trend. He also said that his administration will carry out unprecedented measures as a top priority to turn the situation around.

The number of babies born in Japan last year fell below 800,000 for the first time since record-keeping began more than 120 years ago. Many couples are hesitating to add to their families because of rising costs.

Kishida said the government will provide assistance to employers to encourage more of their male staff to take childcare leave. About 14 percent of eligible male workers in Japan took parental leave in 2021. The government aims to raise that number to 50 percent in three years. ...continue reading