Japan’s plan to boost its birthrate raises doubt. But one city has reason for hope

Japan faces a plunging birthrate crisis; however, the city of Akashi offers a glimmer of hope with its growing population and higher birthrate compared to the national average.

The bigger picture: Japan’s birthrate hit a record low in 2021, with fewer than 800,000 babies born, prompting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to promise new measures to mitigate the crisis.
* In contrast, Akashi has seen rising childbirths and migration due to its generous support for child care, free medical care up to age 18, and free school lunches up to age 15.

National plan skepticism: Kishida’s government aims to double child care spending by the early 2030s, but many are doubtful about its feasibility and funding sources.
* A recent poll found 73% of respondents don’t think Kishida’s measures will halt the falling birthrate.

Lessons from Akashi: Former mayor Fusaho Izumi doubled child care spending without raising taxes, but believes Kishida’s plan is insufficient and slow to make a national impact.
* Gender inequality and workplace culture are also cited as barriers to overcoming Japan’s low birthrate problem.

View original article on NPR

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