Japan has a problem with children … it isn’t having any. Japan has the lowest birthrate in the world and they even have invented a word for it – ‘shoshika’, meaning a society without children. Young couples aren’t having babies because a number of factors one of which is money. Raising a child is expensive in Japan. The land of the rising sun even has a baby tax or birth penalty at the hospital because getting pregnant isn’t a sickness and so having a child is seen as elective procedure and the government refuses to cover it.
To encourage more children the ruling party DPJ introduced a child allowance of 13,000 Yen per child a month (Around $US150) until they graduate from junior high school. In another positive movement to encourage more children they were going to add an extra 7,000 yen for children under three years of age.
But under the cover of needing money for earthquake reconstruction the opposition party the LDP (the former ruling party of Japan for over 50 years) have stripped the extra funding for families from annual budget even though it had already passed the onto the next house. This is the only time in Japanese history that a bill has passed onto the next house only to be withdrawn. Not happy with stripping money from families the LDP want to go a step further and kill the family allowance bill entirely.
So why does the LDP want to discourage families from having babies? Their official reason is Japan is broke and can’t afford it but how can Japan afford to have less babies? The falling birthrate is a real threat to Japan’s future! To have a valid economy a nation has to have workers not just old people! This type of shoot-your-self-in-the-foot action is so typical in Japan it shouldn’t be surprising yet that doesn’t make it any less infuriating.