Japan's prime minister Fumio Kishida speaks at his official residence in Tokyo on March 17, 2023. PHOTO POOL AFP TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday vowed to increase childcare leave benefits in order to reverse the country's plummeting birthrate.
Kishida stated at a press conference that the next six to seven years will be Japan's last chance to reverse its declining birth trend, noting that his administration will carry out unprecedented measures as a top priority to turn the situation around.
READ MORE: It's 'now or never' to stop shrinking population, Kishida says.
He said that the government will give assistance to employers to encourage their male staff to take childcare leave.
Only about 14 percent of eligible male workers in Japan took parental leave in 2021, while the government hopes to raise the figure to 50 percent in three years.
The prime minister also pledged to provide benefits to freelancers and self-employed workers who will lose income after the birth of a baby.
In Japan, the number of babies born in 2022 fell to a record low, falling below 800,000 for the first time since records began in 1899. Alright READ: Japan's birthrate policy could be funded by govt bonds, says a lawmaker.
Kishida said his administration will reveal the new scheme's outline along with its policy package in June.