Social Issues

Japan launches new public agency to promote birth rate

Tokyo, April 3 (EFE).- Japan launched a new government agency Monday in charge of coordinating policies aimed at supporting the birth and raising of children, given the accelerated demographic decline facing the country.

The body, called the Agency for Children and the Family, should serve to “lead the creation of a society favorable to children and their care,” according to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who attended the Monday opening ceremony.

This agency is among measures taken by Kishidas government along with others such as the distribution of financial aid to families, with which the country looks to create “a society centered on children” to resolve the drop in the birth rate, a problem that threatens Japan’s sustainability in the medium term.

Last year the number of newborns in Japan fell by 5.1 percent to below 800,000, a record low, while people 65 or older already account for 29 percent of the total, placing Japan as the second country with the world’s highest aging demographic.

The agency will be in charge of supervising regulations and policies that cover everything from pregnancy and post-birth to nurseries or the distribution of aid to raise children, and will also be in charge of co-ordinating measures against child abuse and bullying.

Measures affecting public nurseries and compulsory education will remain under the education ministry, although the new entity will have the capacity to make recommendations to this and other ministries.

The agency said it would take into account the opinions of children, young people and parents, by regularly inviting them to meetings of its council or consulting them through social media on specific topics.

Current Equality Minister Masanobu Ogura will also be in charge of the Agency for Children and the Family, which will have a staff network of more than 400 workers, the government said.

Kishida has also promised to double the budget aimed at supporting the birth rate and raising children, among other measures focused mainly on the economic section and which, according to some experts, are insufficient to address Japan’s serious and complex demographic problem. EFE


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