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Initiatives have been led primarily by central government and the prime minister, with management under the MHLW and other ministries.

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They have been in charge of establishing the numerous committees formed to design policies for this initiative, with the MHLW responsible for the day-to-day monitoring of implementation, overseeing requirements for daycare centres, and publishing annual reports to disclose activities. Initiatives are sometimes also supported by individual municipalities in terms of budget, staff, etc when needed.

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The MHLW's measurement methodology is quite comprehensive and has been tracked over time — although some metrics have been modified. The government struggled to align incentives for achieving the objectives of this policy with other issues affecting society in the shorter term. Economic constraints and tough working conditions were some of the key factors keeping people from having children, and these issues had to be addressed.

Komine Takao, a professor at the Graduate School of Regional Policy Design at Hosei University, argued that "while it is, of course, important to deal with problems in specific areas, fundamentally, all these issues low economic growth, etc are linked to the problem of birth rate decline If action were taken to address birth rate decline, action to address problems in specific areas is sure to be much easier.

Japan is trying really hard to persuade women to start having babies again

Seen in this light, it is fair to say that responding to the population crisis with little more than a mishmash of individual reactions by disparate members of society is not enough, and Japan needs to respond to the crisis strategically from a comprehensive perspective. On the other hand, there is evidence of support from the private sector, specifically major Japanese companies. Toshiba allows workers to take paid leave for childcare by the hour. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Premium free for 1 month.

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Subscribe Now Subscribe Now. Final Say. Long reads. Lib Dems. US Politics. Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn. Robert Fisk.

Japan's Population Problem

Mark Steel. Janet Street-Porter. John Rentoul. Chuka Ummuna. Shappi Khorsandi.

How to Fix the Baby Bust – Foreign Policy

Gina Miller. Our view. Sign the petition. Spread the word. Steve Coogan. Rugby union. Motor racing. US sports. Rugby League. Movers List. Geoffrey Macnab. Tech news. In the following, I will deal first with labor market structure and then with the related issue of workplace norms. It is clear that during Japan's high-economic growth period, the system of hiring large numbers of young men into full-time entry-level jobs, providing firm-based skill training to them, and fostering within-firm competition for promotion was a highly effective set of mechanisms for producing a productive labor force Honda ; Yashiro Firms could adjust their labor supply to fit new technologies and alterations in labor demand in two ways: through providing on-going skill training to their existing "core" male labor force, and through having a "buffer" of young and middle-aged female workers who did not have job security and could be encouraged to quit when firms' financial conditions demanded a somewhat leaner labor force.

These two mechanisms ensured that firms would have a small but skilled labor force as well as a set of peripheral workers who constituted the support staff for these employees. Japanese income tax laws and welfare-state provisions were symbiotic with the employment system, guaranteeing a robust set of benefits for male breadwinners who had succeeded in the competition to enter and remain in large firms Osawa ; Schoppa ; Yashiro The pressures on this system starting in the s began to expose the extent to which it is ill-adapted to unstable economic growth and also to young women's rising human capital due to their increased entrance into higher education.

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Young mothers who quit their firm to focus on childrearing for several years face extreme difficulty finding a full-time job that takes full advantage of the education and years of human capital formation they experienced prior to marriage and childbirth. The tendency for firms to rigidly persist in the "mass hiring" of young graduates, a system that characterized the high-economic growth period Honda means that many high-human capital women as well as men in their mid-thirties onward are unable to switch firms.

For women, the implications are obvious: the opportunity to further develop one's skills and abilities after having left the labor force to concentrate on childrearing is severely curtailed Boling For men, the implications are perhaps less obvious but are nonetheless serious: once they enter a full-time job in a "good" firm after leaving school, they have little opportunity to choose a career path that differs from what their manager decides for them.

Nor do they have much opportunity to make decisions about their work hours or place of work. The dearth of mid-career chances to move to another firm means that male employees have very little control or "voice" in shaping the work norms in their company; because their economic fate is so closely tied to their current firm, they have little power to negotiate the terms of their employment. One could perhaps say that this is the nature of capitalism in the 21st century. But that is not necessarily the case for high-human capital workers in all countries. What is significant about Japan compared to many other economies is the striking absence of negotiating power on the part of highly skilled employees.

This can be traced to the fact that the external labor market remains very weakly developed. The persistence of low rates of interfirm mobility in Japan compared to a number of other postindustrial countries can be linked to a second aspect of the Japanese labor market that also exerts a negative effect on working women and a negative effect on the birth rate: workplace norms. These norms include long, sometimes unlimited work hours and, in the case of large firms, possible transfers to branch offices in other parts of the country—transfers that cannot be refused without the risk of relegating oneself to a career dead end.

It is well-known that work hours in Japan exceed those of many other countries and generally require a considerable amount of "face time" in the office. Working hours that regularly run past 6 PM or later have obvious implications for family life that Japanese policymakers seem reluctant to recognize.

Children must be picked up from childcare centers and brought home at the end of the day, and in Japan, this is not a responsibility easily delegated to babysitters. How can this be accomplished if both parents are in full-time career-track jobs with long and unpredictable work hours?