Tokyo will begin subsidizing egg freezing for female residents in an effort to reverse the devastatingly low birth rates in Japan.
“We recognize that the declining birth rate is a serious situation,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki told a briefing on Tuesday. “My understanding is that various factors are intricately intertwined that prevent individuals from realizing their hopes for marriage, childbearing, and child-rearing.”
The Asahi Shimbun reported that the new policy would provide 300 yen (about $2,200) per person per year to more than 300 Tokyo residents, possibly starting in 2023.
The fund is part of a total budget of 100 million yen (about $733,000) that also includes a survey to assess demand ahead of a formal launch in 2024.
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A representative from Tokyo-based cosmetic maker Pola, which began funding an egg-freezing program for employees in 2022, said, “There are many employees who are torn between pursuing a career and getting pregnant and having a baby.” Are.” adding that such programs can provide a “sense of relief”.
Japan first raised the alarm in 2016 after a census found that the country’s population had decreased by nearly one million people over the previous five-year period. Local governments launched several initiatives, including a plan to subsidize egg freezing processes, but the effort seemed to make little dent as the population continued to decline.
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According to World Bank data, the country’s population reached a high of 128.1 million in 2008, but is expected to decline to 125.7 million by 2021.
Japan includes the lowest number of newborns on record since the country first began keeping records in 1899, the Japanese health ministry announced on Tuesday.
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The Japan Times reported that the number of births in 2022 was 799,728, down 5.1% from 2021, with deaths rising 8.9% to 1.58 million in the same period.
In a speech at the opening of the 2023 session of Japan’s parliament, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country was “on the verge of not being able to maintain social functions” due to the population crisis, Asia Times reported.
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Kishida has made it a priority for children and families, with plans to announce additional child-rearing policies by June and potentially double the budget allocation to fund them.
The government has already allocated around $35.2 billion from the 2023 budget to tackle the issue.
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