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For the 'Future of Children': PM Kishida Outlines New National Initiative on Families 

"There is no more time," said Prime Minister Kishida, addressing the issue of declining births and proposing measures to support families and children.



Fumio Kishida speaks at the prime minister's press conference on June 13, 2023. (© Sankei)

On June 13, at the Prime Minister's press conference Fumio Kishida announced the establishment of a framework to address declining births in Japan.  The framework will be implemented within his previously announced "Children's Future Strategy Council." 

 "There is no more time. Between now and 2030, it's our last chance to address this problem," said Mr Kishida. 

Among the concrete steps proposed, the prime minister announced that several measures will be implemented from October 2024 and phased in over the first three years. 

A budget of approximately ¥3.5 trillion JPY ($25 billion USD) is anticipated to carry out the program. Kishida sees the key issue with regard to declining births as "the income problem with the younger generations." A large portion of his budget proposals address this problem.

Children at the Kobe children's Book Forest in Kobe, Hyogo (© Sankei)

What New Measures? 

First, there are economic incentives for those who have children. Namely, these include cash handouts for families ranging between ¥10,000 - ¥30,000 JPY ($71 to $215 USD) a month per child. The amount would depend on the child's age and whether it's a first, second, or third born. 

These incentives would be made available to all families, irrespective of income bracket, a change compared to the prior framework. Depending on family income, financial assistance could also be extended to cover school costs for children from the ages of 3 through 18, and incentives for paternity leave are also extended.

The plan is to make Japan "one of the places in the world with the highest level of family-related support per family," in the words of Kishida.  

In addition, the government announced that it plans to extend health insurance coverage to cover some of the costs of giving birth. 

Which part of the budget will be charged to cover the costs of these measures is still uncertain. However, the prime minister made it clear he will adjust expenditures to avoid further burdening the economy.  In that way, he intends to neutralize the new measures' economic burden on society. 

Declining births have rarely been considered an urgent issue. However, Kishida has made it a flagship aspect of his "New Capitalism" policy to boost the economy. 

People attend a march through Paulista Avenue to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights during the annual pride parade, in Sao Paulo, Brazil June 11, 2023. (REUTERS/Carla Carniel)

Moving Forward With Respect:  LGBTQ Legislation 

Meanwhile, the debate on LGBTQ legislation continues in Japan. On June 13, the Lower House of the Japanese Diet approved an amendment to the current draft legislation. Next, the bill will be debated in the House of Councillors. It is expected to be finalized on June 16. 

The current draft is a framework aimed at increasing understanding of LGBT issues. It also condemns "unfair discrimination" towards sexual minorities. 

The prime minister refrained from commenting on the status of debate but highlighted the importance of "listening to various voices." He said he hoped the country would "work towards realizing a society where diversity is respected, and everyone can enjoy a vibrant life." 

Following a question about a possible law on same-sex marriage, Kishida weighed his words. "If made into a law, it would affect the lives of a lot of people. While listening to a range of voices, we plan to fulfill our responsibility as a government. And [we will] consider legal developments or other steps." 

Japan is currently the only country in the Group of Seven (G7) which doesn't have an LGBT anti-discrimination or same-sex marriage law. 

Kim Jong Un gives on-site guidance at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site in Dongchang-ri, North Korea. (Photo delivered in March 2022.) (©KCNA via Kyodo)

A Possible Meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un? 

Among questions from the media, Japan-North Korea relations was raised by a few journalists in the press conference. Specifically, Kishida was asked about the prospects for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Japan has proposed talks, and the prime minister has repeatedly stated he is ready to meet Kim with no preconditions. In response to questions in the press conference, Kishida explained Japan's concern about the three main issues of North Korean nuclear weapons, missiles and abductions. Of the three, however, only the abductions issue has the constraints of the human lives involved, he said. Therefore, he reiterated, for humanitarian reasons, finding a resolution to it should have a priority. He emphasized "there is no time." 

Kishida added that he hopes to "take every opportunity to convey my determination for resolving the pending issues, and opening a new era for both countries." 

The PM also expressed his hope of holding a summit with Kim Jong Un for high-level consultations at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Yasushi Yoshimura and Fumio Kishida during the general election campaign in 2021 (© Sankei).

Elections in Sight? 

As the regular session of Japan's parliament, the National Diet, approaches its final weeks before the summer break, rumors of a snap election have been afoot. 

With that in mind, one key question is when the prime minister is planning to dissolve the parliament. 

Kishida was evasive in responding to a question on this point. He said that "the decision to dissolve the government will be based on a comprehensive assessment of the situation, and whether the timing is appropriate." 

Another item on the upcoming agenda is the approval of the defense budget, which is also expected by June 16. 


In short, it is expected to be an eventful political calendar over the next few weeks. The government will do its best to finish addressing several of these issues before the end of this session. That could be as early as June 21. 


Author: Arielle Busetto

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