© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Local children play on Japan’s westernmost inhabited Yonaguni Island in Yonaguni, Okinawa prefecture, Japan, October 26, 2021. Picture taken October 26, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato
By Tetsushi Kajimoto
TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday that the government would issue special bonds aimed at filling a projected funding gap as it boosts child care support towards 2030, as the proportion of young people in the population falls more sharply.
Kishida has made new child care measures one of the top items on the agenda of his government’s mid-year economic policy roadmap due out this month, as Japan struggles with the costs of its ageing and shrinking population.
Speaking at a government panel meeting, Kishida said the government would not impose any further financial burden on the public over its child care support measures.
“We will frontload child care measures to avoid lagging behind the 2030 target year,” Kishida said. “We will issue ‘child special bonds’ to fill funding shortfalls in the meantime.”
The government plans to earmark about 3.5 trillion yen ($25.92 billion) a year for the next three years for new child care policy, ranging from child allowances to further support for higher education.
That would put it on a par with Sweden, a leader among the OECD nations in terms of its family-related spending per child.
However, Kishida said his government would come up with specific measures to secure stable funding sources by the year end, effectively pushing back any decision on funding until later on, raising worry on the spectre of runaway debt.
For now, the government aims to streamline fiscal spending and accelerate economic growth along with wage hikes to help ensure it has stable funding sources by fiscal 2028.
“We won’t raise sales and other taxes to fill the funding gap,” Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto told reporters later.
The government has been struggling to secure permanent funding sources to pay for a boost to child care support, with Japan – the world’s third-largest economy – already saddled with the industrial world’s heaviest public debt at more than twice the country’s economic output.
($1 = 135.0500 yen)