Japan is struggling with many things right now, and only few are going according to plan. Although the country has started accepting foreigners, COVID cases have spiked, the pandemic has left the economy crash, and the yen’s value is still low even after the government tried intervening with a lot of money, tensions with China are as tight as ever, the government is trying to encourage youngsters to drink more to help the economy, and the most important of them all, the childbirth rate is still in decline. Still, Japan hasn’t given up and is now offering an extra 80,000 yen to parents who opt to have more babies.
Presently, expecting parents in Japan receive a Children’s Lump Sum Grant in the amount of 420,000 Japanese yen on the arrival of their baby. It is believed that Health, Labor, and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato wants to up this amount to 500 thousand yen (3,703 USD). She met with Japanese Premier Fumio Kishida this week to discuss the proposal. It will likely be accepted and implemented in the fiscal year 2023, which begins in the spring.
But, even though an increase in the number of grants won’t cause anyone to be less inclined to have kids, it might not be as effective an incentive. Although it’s referred to as a “Lump-Sum Grant” Childbirth or Childcare Lump-Sum Grant, very little, if any, of it is left in the aftermath of the “Childbirth” portion. While the grant is funded through Japan’s healthcare insurance program, the child’s expenses for delivery are paid for out of pocket. Mainichi Shimbun says the average nationwide delivery cost is around 473,000 yen. The amount of the grant barely covers the delivery fees, let alone the post-birth expenses.
So regardless of whether the amount was an increase, parents would be facing, on average, just the 30,000 yen they’ll have left after they’ve left the hospital. It’s going to do little against the overall cost that goes into raising your child until independent adulthood. It’s also doubtful that an increase of 80,000 yen will cross the threshold of a make-or-break decision for parents with an infant.
Yes, it’s indisputable that cautious views regarding the ability to financially ensure children’s financial security are an obstacle to childbirth in Japan. The root of the problem, however, is usually insecurity among parents who are planning to have children in their ability to make enough money to support their family and maintain an enjoyable and healthy time between work and private life throughout the long period that their child will grow to be.
This is a challenging tightrope walk along in Japanese society. Worries about managing it are a more significant contributor to lower birth rates than finding the money needed to pay for the baby’s birth.
That said, having a little more money when the family grows is an element, on its own, that the new parents will be grateful for. The 80,000-yen increase will be the most significant increase in the history of the Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum grant and the first time since 2009.