KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary
Statement on Government's Measures against the Declining Birthrate
21 June 2006
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
- On June 20th, the Prime Minister-led Cabinet Council for Measures againstthe Declining Birthrate in Society finalized “New Measures against theDeclining Birthrate” which should be included in the “Thick-Boned Policy2006.” On June 1st, it was announced that the total fertility rate for2005 was 1.25 and people's interest in measures against the decreasingbirthrate has increased greater than ever. However, these New Measures donot reveal any concrete framework to more effectively promote countermeasuresbut are preoccupied with listing politically-charged messages such as a raisein the amount of child dependent allowance for infants. Cosmetic measuressuch as these cannot curb the declining birthrate.
- The two main parts of the New Measures are: 'support measures forchildrearing' and 'workstyle reform.' Regarding childrearing support, the New Measures introducea new source of financial support that includes: increasing the childdependent allowance for infants; lightening medical examination feesduring pregnancy, and reducing the financial burden of preschool feesfor parents. As for 'workstyle reform,' the New Measures attempt to promote to 'establisha framework that allows people a second chance.' This includes jobassistance for the young, the promotion of equal treatment for part-timeworkers, support for work continuation/re-employment for women workers.The New Measures also would reevaluate classical working methods throughcorrecting long work hours, etc.
- It is commendable that 'work style reform' was a major part ofthe countermeasures against the declining birthrate as was mandatorydisclosure of an 'action plan' that employers should create inorder to enhance the effectiveness of the Next Generation DevelopmentAssistance Measures Promotion Law. However, before measures against thedeclining birthrate are made, we see no active position of the governmentby which will thoroughly correct corporate management which deviatesfrom such work rules as the repeated renewal of fixed-term contract employment,irrational wage disparities, long work hours, and unpaid labor. Furthermore,there are no concrete plans to fundamentally reform business culture,which has a support system to balance work and family but is difficultto use, and establish work-life balance in the workplace. Moreover, wecannot expect economic support to be effective unless we urgently establisha system that allow parents to use necessary services anytime, and resolvesuch problems as a shortage of obstetricians and pediatricians, and longwaiting lists for entry to nursery schools.
- The New Measures are basedon an assumption that 'rapid decrease in thepopulation challenges the foundation of a nation/society's existence.' However,the government should position its idea on the basis that society has a responsibilityto create the conditions where men and women can have and raise children in safetyand create an environment where children can grow up healthy. RENGO believesthat the only, and most effective, measure against the falling birthrate is tocorrect social inequalities – that include widening disparities and bipolarizingemployment – and create a safe, secure, and fair society. We will strive to realizethis and at the same time, we will press the government and political partiesto create effective measures against the declining birthrate that will be includedin the next fiscal year’s budget compilation.