An important government council will, for the first time, include a population goal to halt the current trend of a declining birthrate and aging society in the basic policies for economic and fiscal management that are expected to be approved by the Abe Cabinet by the end of June.
The basic policies will be compiled by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and set a target of keeping the population at 100 million after 50 years, compared to the current population of about 127 million.
To reach that goal, the document will call on the government to implement measures to raise the birthrate, including offering greater benefits to families with more than two children.
According to a draft copy of the basic policies obtained by The Asahi Shimbun, stopping the decline in population is second in priority next to pulling the Japanese economy out of its long deflationary cycle as the major hurdles that have to be overcome.
According to calculations made within the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the population can be maintained at 100 million even in the 2060s if the total fertility rate--the number of children a woman gives birth to in her lifetime--which is now 1.43, is raised to 2.07 in 2030.
The draft of the basic policies calls for changing the current trend of a graying population and declining birthrate by about 2020 in order to achieve the population goal.
However, the basic policies will not include a specific goal for the total fertility rate because of criticism that including such a figure will be equivalent to forcing women to give birth.
Increased spending on child rearing will be requested from the fiscal 2015 budget and beyond. One measure will be increased benefits for a third child in a family. A new council to be led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also be established to deal with the declining population.
In addition to measures to support child rearing, the council will also consider changing how not only women, but also men, work in order to make it easier for parents to balance their jobs with raising their children.
The government plans to review social security spending from the fiscal 2015 budget because much of those expenditures benefit the elderly. However, that review process is not expected to be an easy one since restraining spending on senior citizens could lead to a decline in the care services they receive.
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