Japan’s new birth minister tried the ‘pregnancy belly’

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has replaced the female minister tasked with tackling the country’s declining birth rate and installed a man who has sought to deepen his understanding of the issue by trying a “pregnancy belly “.

Kishida shuffled his cabinet on Wednesday (August 10) and named former Bank of Japan official Masanobu Ogura, 41, to succeed ruling party veteran Seiko Noda, a mother of one.

In an interview with The Associated Press last month, she blamed a male-dominated political world for ‘indifference and ignorance’ towards a plummeting birth rate that has become an increasingly serious threat. for its economy.

Ogura, who is married with no children, tried a ‘baby belly’ as part of a project organized by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s youth wing in April last year.

Kishida told a press conference that he had mobilized a “young and fresh perspective” to address the problem of population decline by appointing Ogura.

Ogura told a press conference after being appointed to the post that improving policies to help families raise children is an urgent task, Kyoiku newspaper reported. He added that “the moment of truth is now,” he said.

Ogura and two other male legislators had to keep the 7.3kg pregnancy belly while going about their daily business, in order to understand the burden on the body of bearing a child, Sankei newspaper reported to the era.

The costume, worn tied to the torso, is intended to simulate weight gain after seven months of pregnancy, according to Ogura’s blog.

He explained in the blog that he suffered from back pain while wearing the jacket and worried about other passengers on a crowded train bumping into him.

“It doesn’t mean that I have more meaningful opinions on politics than others,” he said. “But I certainly feel now that I want to devote more of my limited time as a legislator to supporting pregnant women.”

A record 811,604 babies were born last year, according to Health Ministry data, while deaths hit a post-war high of 1.44 million.

The shrinking working-age population is forced to support a growing number of people aged 65 and over, who made up more than 29% of the population in September.

Already low levels of immigration have been further hampered by strict border measures during the pandemic.

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