Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned that the country's population crisis was "on the brink of not being able to maintain social functions" amid a falling birth rate on Monday (January 23), CNN reports.
Kishida said the country was facing a "now or never" scenario and "simply cannot wait any longer" during a policy address to lawmakers.
“In thinking of the sustainability and inclusiveness of our nation’s economy and society, we place child-rearing support as our most important policy,” Kishida said via CNN.
The prime minister said he wants the government to double its spending on child-related programs and revealed plans to launch a new government agency in April designated to address the issue. Japan has one of the lowest birth rates worldwide, with the Ministry of Health predicting less than total 800,000 births tabulated in 2022, the lowest total since records were initially kept in 1989.
Japan also has one of the highest life expectancies worldwide with nearly one in 1,500 people reported to be age 100 or older, according to government data obtained by CNN, which has led to a growing demographic crisis as the country has a limited number of young people to fill gaps needed to help the national economy. Additionally, experts believe the country's high cost of living, limited space and lack of child care support in cities has also played a role in the decreasing birth rate as couples face difficulties to raise children.