Japan PM Kishida: it’s ‘now or never’ to stop shrinking population

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference following the US-Japan summit in Washington, U.S., January 14, 2023. — Reuters
  • Japanese PM says society ‘on the cusp’ as birthrate falls.
  • “It is now or never” on policies regarding child-rearing, says Kisihida.
  • Japan saw a record-low number of births in 2021.

Japanese Prime minister Fumio Kishida pledged on Monday to take urgent steps to tackle the country’s declining birth rate, saying it was “now or never” for the world’s oldest society.

“Our nation is on the cusp of whether it can maintain its societal functions,” Kishida said in a policy speech at the opening of this year’s parliamentary session.

“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.

Kishida said he would submit plans to double the budget on child-related policies by June, and a new government agency to tackle the issue would be set up in April.

Japan saw a record-low number of births in 2021, the latest data available, prompting the biggest-ever natural decline in the population.

China’s population decline

China’s population fell last year for the first time in six decades, a historical turn expected to mark the start of a long period of decline in its citizen numbers with profound implications for its economy and the world.

The drop, the worst since 1961, the last year of China’s Great Famine, also lends weight to predictions that India will become the world’s most populous nation this year.

China’s population declined by roughly 850,000 to 1.41175 billion at the end of 2022, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics said.

Long-term, UN experts see China’s population shrinking by 109 million by 2050, more than triple the decline of their previous forecast in 2019.

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