Kishida said the government would take steps to counter the slowing birth rate, which fell to an all-time low in 2021.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan must take urgent steps to tackle the country’s falling birth rate, which is a matter of “now or never” for the world’s oldest society.
“Our country is on the cusp of being able to maintain its social functions,” Kishida said in a policy speech at the opening session of this year’s Diet on Monday.
He added: “When it comes to fertility and childcare policy, it’s now or never – it’s a question that can’t wait any longer.”
Kishida said a new government agency would be formed in April to tackle the problem, and he would present plans to double the budget for child-related policies by June.
Japan will have a record low number of births in 2021, new data show, leading to the largest natural decline in the population ever recorded.
To add insult to injury, some 28% of Japanese are over 65 years old.
The country has maintained a strict immigration policy for years, limiting the number of people who can settle in Japan, and experts say it needs to relax the policy to offset Japan’s rapidly aging society.
In recent years, the government has been changing laws to allow more foreigners to live and work in the country with their families.
Japan has a population of about 126 million. Although largely homogeneous, there are about 1 million ethnic Chinese and hundreds of thousands of ethnic Koreans.