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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Japan’s PM Kishida says declining birth rate is the top priority for government

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has said that addressing the country’s declining birth rate will be a top priority for the government.

He stated this on Monday during his political speech on the first day of the regular session of the parliament.

Kishida said the number of births in Japan last year was estimated at less than 800,000. He said the government would try to implement unprecedented countermeasures to increase the number of births. He said he intends to devise steps and seek stable financial resources to achieve the goal.

The Prime Minister said Japan is at a critical point 77 years after the end of World War II. He said the country must break away from established past practices and create a society, economy and international order fit for the new era.

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Kishida also emphasized the need to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities. He said the government would provide a defense budget of ¥43 trillion, or more than $330 billion, over five years. He stated that roughly a quarter of the funds will be raised through tax increases.

He also said the government would address rising prices. He said the government would seek to increase wages, including efforts to speed up labor market reform by revising the seniority-based wage system. Kishida also mentioned support for people who want to change their employment status from non-permanent to permanent and support for retraining.

Commenting on how Japan will ensure a stable energy supply, Kishida said the government will support the construction of new-generation reactors in nuclear power plants and expand the operation of nuclear reactors.

Kishida also said the government will consider reclassifying the coronavirus this spring and moving it into the same category as seasonal flu.

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Kishida also spoke about diplomacy and national security. He said Japan would work with other G7 countries to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other global issues ahead of the group’s May summit in Hiroshima, western Japan. He also expressed his determination to take measures to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

Kishida also referred to the resignations of some government ministers last year over political fund scandals and ties to a religious group widely known as the Unification Church. He said he was taking the resignations seriously and said he would try to prevent a repeat of the behavior that led to the scandals.

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