Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: After Recent Aso Remarks, Measures Must Be Offered on Fertility Issue

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: After Recent Aso Remarks, Measures Must Be Offered on Fertility Issue

Article excerpt

An important member of the Cabinet has repeatedly made inappropriate remarks during a recent week.

The figure in question is Finance Minister Taro Aso, who is also deputy prime minister. One of his controversial comments was made during a speech in support of a candidate for the upcoming House of Representatives election in Sapporo on Sunday.

"Though many people have a negative image of elderly persons, the problem is that [some women] do not bother to have children," Aso said in connection with our nation's low birthrate and aging population.

His comment was probably intended to emphasize the severity of a decrease in the percentage of those of working age, the generations who must shoulder the financial burden of supporting elderly people. The decline comes at a time of difficulty in securing the financial means to deal with a sharp rise in social security costs.

However, there is no denying that Aso's comment lacked consideration to the feelings of women who want to have children but find it impossible to do so for one reason or another.

Japan's fertility rate -- the number of children an average woman will have in her lifetime -- has continued to hover around 1.4, a major factor in its population decrease. However, most married couples are thought to consider an average of 2.4 children to be ideal. These figures indicate there is a gap between the nation's actual birthrate and the average number of children married men and women want to have in life. This is related to the fact that a large number of people do not marry and have children for economic and other reasons.

It cannot be gathered from Aso's remark that he is paying close attention to the harsh realities surrounding these people. In fact, some members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet have raised questions about Aso's comment, which they say could even be regarded as "meddling in people's lives."

On Tuesday, Aso acknowledged the inappropriateness of his remark. "It is important to create an environment in which women can have children without worry. I happened to omit an explanation [about his real intention] because of limited time, which gave people the wrong impression," he said.

If he truly thinks so, Aso should present a road map and measures aimed at creating such an environment. …

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