Japan’s prime minister’s has just made a serious and determined commitment to address the demographic winter his country is facing. The population crisis of Japan is among the worst in the world. In 2022, the number of births in Japan is less than 800,000; in 1973, at the peak of its baby boom, 2.09 million children were born in Japan. But Japan’s population has been in a sharp decline since then. In 2021, according to the latest available data, Japan set a record in natural population decline. Indeed, researchers now predict that Japan’s population will fall from 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million in 2100.
Japan’s prime minister, conservative Fumio Kishida, in recent days gave a speech full of realism and concern because he stated what cannot be ignored any more: if his country cannot reverse the current demographic crisis, devastating economic and social consequences most surely will result. “Our country is on the verge of being unable to maintain the functions of society,” Fumio Kishida said at the beginning of this year’s session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament.
Increasing the number of births, by specifically focusing on birthrate and family policies, will be the “top priority” of the government led by Premier Kishida. Among his plans is to allocating funds to “create a child-friendly economy and society” because “child policies and childcare are the most effective investment for the future,” he told the Diet. He declared that Japan must solve the problem “now or never” and “we simply cannot wait any longer,” he repeated, assuring his country that he will also put “support for children’s education as an important policy.”
For all that, the government is thinking of doubling spending on child-related programs and establishing a new government agency on birth, population growth and family policies as early as next April. For the first time, a Japanese government is making the population crisis a top priority; many countries should do the same, including in Europe, which likewise is facing is a demographic winter.