Last Tuesday, February 5, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso apologize two days after releasing an offensive statement which implies to unmarried or childless women as one of the liable reason for the country’s decreasing population.
During his speech in Fukuoka prefecture, Southwestern Japan last Sunday, the 78-year-old Deputy PM stated that he disagrees with the rumors that the elderly are the main cause of the country’s decreasing population and rising social security expenses. According to him, it’s not the elders who are at fault but those citizens who are childless.
Aso also made a similar comment in 2014 which also drew criticism.
Toshiro Nikai, who is in the same political party with Aso, also received backlash for his saying that “some people are really selfish to think that it’s better not to have children.”
Aso who is also the finance minister, released the controversial remark after recent research showed the country’s lowest record of birth rates yet.
In 2018, there were 921,000 births and 1.37 million deaths. Last 2016 the country’s average number of births per woman decreased from 2.0 in 1960 to 1.44, stated by the World Bank. Also, Japan’s population mostly consists of old people, where 20 percent of its citizens are older than 65. The decreasing birth rates together with the rising health expenses for the elderly and diminishing workforce somehow threatens the future of the nation’s economy.
Aso received backlash and criticisms especially from opposition MPs for his insensitive statements that are somehow inconsiderate to the couples who wanted to have children but were not physically capable and to couples who choose not to have children.
Consequently, Taro retracted his statements and apologized in a press conference and stated that his remarks were taken out of context. He also said that he would be more careful about how he speaks in the future.
Some of the reasons behind the country’s low birth rate includes lack of access to inexpensive child care, too much working hours, and expensive cost of raising children
For the past two decades, Japan has been making ways to solve the aging and decreasing population issue. Laws have been created to upgrade child care services, enhance facilities for families with children and other programs to encourage couples to have more children.