Japan: a baby to reduce student debt, a scandalous idea

Japan: a baby to reduce student debt, a scandalous idea

Not all proposals are acceptable to increase the birth rate in Japan. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida learned this the hard way. After his party suggested reducing student debt for those who have children, in an attempt to stem the fall in the birth rate in the Japanese archipelago, he suffered a shower of criticism.

Fumio Kishida promised at the beginning of the year “unprecedented” measures to fight against the declining birth rate in Japan, a chronic and becoming increasingly acute problem. His political movement, the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, conservative right), is working on various proposals on the subject, which must be presented to the government by the end of March according to local media.

But one of these proposals, conditioning the reduction of student debt on parenthood, has raised a wave of criticism. “Demanding a child in return for a reduction in student debt is a bad measure to tackle the low birth rate,” Senator Noriko Ishigaki said Friday during a debate in the Upper House of Parliament. Japanese in the presence of the Prime Minister. Fumio Kishida said little about the content of the proposal, preferring to insist on the need to “respect” a “free and vigorous” debate on the subject.

“Support families financially”

Critics also took to Twitter: “It’s like saying Pay with your body! was indignant one user of the social network, while another felt that the PLD’s measures amounted to “treating humans like cattle”.

Masahiko Shibayama, the PLD deputy leading the committee working on this file, assured Japanese media that this measure was intended to financially support families, and not to sanction childless homes. “We are discussing this as an extension of support for raising children, rather than a policy related to the birth rate,” he told TV Asahi.

In January, Fumio Kishida estimated that Japan found itself “at the limit of the inability to continue to function as a society” because of the drop in births in the country. Nearly 30% of Japan’s 125 million inhabitants are aged 65 and over, a world record after Monaco.

And the number of births in the country fell in 2022 below the 800,000 mark, a new low since these statistics began in 1899 and almost half as low as 40 years ago, according to published government figures. end of February.

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