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Japan to push child care, labour reforms to stem falling births, sources say

The child allowance plan calls for abolition of income limits on recipients, while clarifying that such allowances are available until a deadline of March 31 subsequent to attaining the age of 18, up from 15 now.

Reuters
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A woman walks along a street as evening rain falls in Tokyo on April 18, 2022. Photo: AFP
A woman walks along a street as evening rain falls in Tokyo on April 18, 2022. Photo: AFP

Japan aims to reform labour law, easing the way for couples to work and share household chores, in a bid to avert an expected sharp fall in the number of its young people by the 2030s, three government sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said a fast-ageing Japan has a last chance to reverse a decline in births, which could hurt economic growth and social security, before the 2030s bring a drop in the share of young people in the population.

Kishida is set to unveil a final version of his child care policy at a news conference on June 13.

The labour reforms will allow workers to opt for a more flexible work-style such as three days off each week, the sources, who sought anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to media, told Reuters.

Further regulation to be adopted in fiscal 2024 will put a uniform cap on overtime. The new plan also aims for those who engage in care or undergo fertility treatment to hold down jobs.

The child allowance plan calls for abolition of income limits on recipients, while clarifying that such allowances are available until a deadline of March 31 subsequent to attaining the age of 18, up from 15 now.

The draft plan seeks to further rectify long working hours so that both parents can share household chores without throwing an unfair burden on mothers.

Men working long hours have traditionally formed the bulk of the workforce at many Japanese firms, but reform proponents say this forces women to shoulder a disproportionate share of domestic chores.

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment outside business hours.

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