Japan’s government is wanting to boost the amount given to new parents by 80,000 yen (US$585) to motivate citizens to have more babies. As the country’s birthrate has been declining for some time, the government has tried to find ways to boost family planning. According to the Japan Times, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare currently offer a Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant of 420,000 yen to new parents.
The health minister reportedly met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week to discuss the rise in the grant money. The proposal is expected to be approved and put into effect in the 2023 fiscal year. But, critics say the grant doesn’t cover much more than the costs of childbirth. As the average cost of having a baby in Japan is around 473,000 yen, critics say the extra 27,00 yen isn’t enough to motivate families to expand.
Moreover, the actual worries of being able to financially support a child in Japan seem to have outweighed the potential happiness of expanding one’s family. Despite critics saying the proposed increase won’t make that big of a difference, the increase in the Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant is the first since 2009. It will also be the largest increase ever for the grant.
Yes, it is true that cautious attitudes about being able to financially provide for one’s children are a detriment towards childbirth in Japan. The core issue, though, tends to be a lack of confidence by could-be parents in their ability to earn enough to support their family while also maintaining a happy and fulfilling balance between work and private life during the many years over which their kid will be growing up.
That’s a tough tightrope to walk in Japanese society, and worries about being able to do it are a much bigger contributing factor to the low birthrate than coming up with the cash to pay for the baby’s delivery.
All that said, a little extra cash as the family expands is something, in and of itself, that new parents would be thankful for, and the 80,000-yen boost would be the largest increase ever for the Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant and its first since 2009.