Govt to step up aid to lift low birthrate / Will help more people marry, have children
The Yomiuri Shimbun
In a bid to boost the nation's chronically low birthrate, the government will provide more support to encourage people to get married and have children, it was learned Tuesday.
The support will include assistance in finding marriage partners and homes, and in having and raising children.
The government will establish an expert task force next Wednesday that will work out concrete measures by May. These steps will be included in the government's basic policy on economic and fiscal reforms, which it plans to compile in June.
Among them, the government will implement measures that are urgently needed, starting in fiscal 2014, a government source said.
The task force will be chaired by Masako Mori, state minister for measures for the declining birthrate, and will comprise about 20 experts, including scholars, doctors, heads of local governments and corporate managers.
Three bills designed to support childbirth and child-rearing were passed into law last August. The bills center on improving child care services and preschool education.
However, the low birthrate is also the result of many people remaining single or delaying marriage, as well as their anxiety about having and raising children. The task force will discuss how such concerns can be dispelled...
The article reveals a number of interesting proposals. It also reveals some silly-sounding ones, such as increasing subsidies to local government programs helping residents find spouses -- programs that have had little measurable impact on marriage numbers so far.
The national government, however, is sailing against a global tide (Link). It could go full force pro-natalist, promulgating such measures as the ban on abortions Liberal Democratic Party General Council chair Noda Seiko (whose own desire to give birth led her to make icy bioethical decisions) seems to have proposed last month (Noda has made statements in support of such a ban in the past - Link - J). Without suppressing civil liberties or blowing out the budget (income tax holidays for child bearing, for example), the final package of government measures, none of which is likely to be tested for effectiveness prior to promulgation, will likely be more than just a lot of fumbling around in the dark.