Public Policy Planning & Consulting Co. (SEISAKU-KOUBOU) is a public policy consulting firm based in Tokyo, covering broad policy areas such as economic policy, fiscal policy, regulatory policy, administrative reform, international trade and investment, etc.
PPPC provides consulting and briefing services to the clients in the central/local governments, Diet, local assemblies and the private sector.

This blog is aimed at providing general information, latest updates and some of our analytical reports about Japan's public policy in English.
The contents include;
- updates on some important government councils, especially those in which our executive officers serve as the members,
- weekly reports on latest news in Nagata-cho, the political center in Japan, (partially).
- analytical reports and articles by our members and distinguished experts outside the firm,(partially).


Goal of “TFR 1.8%”

(HARA Eiji, PPPC President)

The government’s Council on Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan, composed of 12 members, in eye of releasing its “long-term vision” and “comprehensive strategy” in December, announced their respective outlines on November 6.
One of the most important issues regarding the local revitalization is the population. One starting viewpoint of the government is that quite a few local governments will disappear someday by the declining population and population flow-out to urban areas as long as the population continues to decline at the current speed.

With regard to this point, the outline of the “long-term vision” released this time showed the following “future directions” to be sought.
1.         To hit brakes to the population-decline to secure “100 million 50 years later.” To that end, improvements to “TFR (Total Fertility Rate) 1.8%” will be sought (which more than half of the OECD countries have accomplished).
2.         To correct the over-concentration in Tokyo.

The reason behind the second point <correct the over-concentration in Tokyo> is the government’s perspective that the “over-concentration in Tokyo is causing the decline of TFR.”
However, although it is true that TFR in urban areas exceed that in rural areas currently, there is no inevitability that “TFR are low in urban areas” from international comparisons. Rather, the issue of declining population should be controllable if proper countermeasures to the population problem are to be taken in urban areas, hence the issue of over-concentration in Tokyo and its appropriateness should be a different point of discussions.

The issue of “over-concentration in Tokyo” will be discussed some other time, and this time, let’s discuss the issue of TFR.
Many developed countries have accomplished more than 1.8% of TFR (France 2.01, U.K. 2.00, Sweden 1.98, U.S. 1.93 in 2010) and compared to the fact the number have improved largely in the recent 10-20 years in France, U.K., and Sweden, it is true that Japan’s 1.4 has a lot to be dealt with.
Yet, the problem is how to achieve that goal.

Looking at the present data;

       There are no major changes in the number of children which a couple desires to have and actually has in the recent 30-40 years.

(Number of average number of children which couples desire to have and actually schedule to have
Source: White Paper on Declining Number of Children 2014)

       On the other hand, the rate of unmarried persons in their thirtieth increased largely from around 7% to 30% in the recent 30 years. This is the major factor accelerating the decreasing number of children.

(Rate of unmarried female in ages
Source: White Paper on Declining Number of Children 2014)

Based on these facts, countermeasures to the issue of shrinking number of children should be considered in course of solving the following two points.
i.              Many couples give up having as many children as they had originally desired for economic reasons

(Reasons for not having the number of children they had desired to; according to wife’s ages
Source: White Paper on Declining Number of Children 2014)

i.              People (esp. male) who cannot step into marriage for stability reasons are becoming the main cause of declining children
(Reasons for not having the number of children they had desired to; according to wife’s ages
Source: White Paper on Declining Number of Children 2014)

Specifically, measures covering such points as the following must be considered;
l  Lowering the child-rearing costs through expansion of allowances/supports and tax measures
l  Improvement of the child-rearing environment, e.g., eliminating the nursery waiting list (equal-footing of private companies and social welfare corporations, relooking of the standard of childcare workers, etc.)
l  Labor reform (improvement of the youth’s working environment by realizing the principle of same work, same wages, building of the working environment in which one can get back to the work after leaving the office for having birth of children, etc.)

Especially, the efforts should not include just the budget measures but the ones that challenge the so-called “bedrock regulations” in the fields of nursery or labor. It will be the test whether the “TFR 1.8%” will be no more than a flowery slogan or the serious goal to be accomplished.

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