(Mainichi: February 27, 2016 – p. 5)
Japan’s first population decline since the first national census was conducted reiterated the importance of “creating a society that dynamically engages all citizens,” a policy agenda that the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prioritizes. Abe advocates tapping women and senior citizens as labor power, but the reality is that there are not many concrete measures to ensure that the population of one hundred million can be maintained. The contents of a plan that the government intends to put together by this spring to realize this policy agenda will be called into question.
“We will address the issue of declining population and birthrate by realizing a society that dynamically engages all citizens,” said Katsunobu Kato, the minister responsible for the matter at a press conference after a cabinet meeting on Feb. 26.
Akira Koike, policy chief at the Japanese Communist Party, said on the same day: “Japan is turning into a society where young people have no hope. With non-regular workers accounting for more than 40% of the total workforce, getting married or raising children is simply becoming difficult.”
“No effective ideas have been proposed yet,” said Toshihiro Nikai, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s General Affairs Council.
The government has set three targets: (1) boosting nominal gross domestic product to 600 trillion yen, (2) realizing a desired birthrate of 1.8 and (3) preventing workers from quitting their jobs to take care of their aged parents. It envisages helping young people with marriage and child rearing, and enhancing social welfare programs while securing tax revenues through the expansion of the economy. (Abridged)