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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 December 19 - 2008 January 8  > Government panel on child-family support concedes balancing work and childcare is difficult
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2007 December 19 - 2008 January 8 [LABOR]

Government panel on child-family support concedes balancing work and childcare is difficult

December 19, 2007
A governmental panel adopted a report on December 18 concerning measures to counter Japan’s declining birthrate through improving support for families with children.

The panel is chaired by Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura Nobutaka and consists of relevant cabinet members and private sector members.

Pointing out that the gap between young people’s wish to get married and have children and the reality, the report states, “People are being discouraged from getting married and having children. This may further accelerate the decline in the birthrate.”

It also stressed that many women are forced to choose work or childcare and that this problem must be solved.

The report states it is essential to review the way people work with the view of maintaining harmony between work and personal life and improving social infrastructure for providing necessary services in support of child care and child delivery. It also calls for up to 2.4 trillion yen in outlays to be added to the current funding level of an estimated 4.3 trillion yen in order to increase social expenditures on children and family support to a level comparable with European countries.

Japan’s child and family support policy is far behind European levels. Its social funding for family support is only 0.83 percent of GDP. The rates in Europe are: 3.54 percent in Sweden, 3.02 percent in France and in Germany 2.01 percent

The report does not call for any corrective measures against the extraordinarily long hours of work among full-time workers. It says on that the issue should be dealt with basically through voluntary efforts by labor and management.

Concerning fiscal sources for supporting childcare, it calls for a consumption tax increase. But such a measure will only force child-rearing parents to pay more.

The task now is to begin considering forcing large corporations that are making record profits to share burdens according to their ability to pay and to cut the wasteful expenditure on an arms buildup. These fiscal efforts are essential for a far-reaching solution to the problem.
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