TOKYO, Japan: Japanese Prime minister Fumio Kishida said this week that it was "now or never" for Japan, one of the world's oldest societies, to reverse its shrinking population, pledging to take urgent steps to reverse the country's declining birth rate.
Japan, one of the most expensive countries in the world to raise children, has been recently encouraging its adults to have more children with promises of cash bonuses and better benefits.
According to official statistics, Japan's birth rate plunged to below 800,000 for the first time last year, a new record low and a crucial moment coming eight years earlier than predicted by the government.
During a policy speech at the opening of this year's parliamentary session, Kishida said, "Our nation is on the cusp of whether it can maintain its societal functions. It is now or never when it comes to policies regarding births and child-rearing, it is an issue that simply cannot wait any longer."
He added that he will announce plans to double the budget for child-related policies by June, and in April, a new Children and Families government agency will be established.
According to YuWa Population Research, Japan is the third-most-expensive country globally to raise a child, behind only China and South Korea, which also have shrinking populations.
Last week, China reported that in 2022, its population decreased for the first time in 60 years.