An advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has expressed fear that Japan will cease to exist if birthrates continue to fall, which has damaged the economy and social safety net.
In 2022, it was reported that twice as many people died in Japan as were born, with less than 800,000 births and a staggering 1.58 million deaths, according to The Standard.
“If we go on like this, the country will disappear,” former Minister of Justice Masako Mori said, acknowledging the record-low birthrate last year.
“It’s the people who have to live through the process of disappearance who will face enormous harm. It’s a terrible disease that will afflict those children.”
As a result, Kishida has made a commitment to increase spending on children and family, in an effort to stifle the population decline. The report noted that the Japanese population has fallen to 124.6 million from a peak of just over 128 million in 2008, and the rate of decline is only increasing.
Though South Korea has a lower fertility rate, Japan’s population is getting smaller at a faster rate. It was reported that 29 percent of Japan’s population is 65 years of age and older.
“It’s not falling gradually, it’s heading straight down,” said Mori, who currently advises Kishida on LGBTQ issues and the birthrate issue.
“A nosedive means children being born now will be thrown into a society that becomes distorted, shrinks and loses its ability to function.”
Mori has acknowledged that the slide will be difficult to address, especially since the number of women within child-bearing age has declined. However, the Japanese government is doing what it can to help reduce the damage.
It is not yet known what is contained with Kishida’s spending package, but critics have suggested that giving money to families with children is not enough.
One government document from a panel suggested that Japan must reduce the burden on women to raise children, and providing them a way to participate in the workforce after giving birth, according to the report.
Mori has criticized the tendency to reflect on the population issue independent of trade, finance, and female empowerment.
“Women’s empowerment and birth rate policies are the same,” she said.
“If you deal with these things separately, it won’t be effective.”
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