In Japan, Couples Can Soon Get Over $5,000 Just For Getting Married

September 23, 2020 Off By Frankie Lantican

From next April, the Japanese government will start giving newlyweds 600,000 yen ($5,660) with the hopes of boosting the country’s declining birth rate.

This will apply to those who live in a municipality that adopts the “New Marriage Life Support Project.” According to Japanese network TBS News, the grant is meant to help cover expenses for the new life together, like rent.

Incentivizing marriages is not new in Japan. Right now, about 281 municipalities offer a grant of 300,000 yen ($2,855) to newlywed couples in which both partners are 34 years old or younger and have a combined household income of less than 4.8 million yen ($45,681). Starting April, the grant will be increased to 600,000 yen ($5,660), and those up to 39 years old with a household income of less than 5.4 million yen ($51,393) will be eligible. Municipalities used to evenly split these expenses with the central government but the latter will start covering two-thirds when the new scheme begins, Japan Times reported.

Japan has long been struggling with its low birth rate. Just last year, the estimated number of babies born in the country fell to 864,000, which is the lowest it has ever been since records began in 1899, CNN reported.

Their plummeting birth rate has been largely attributed to the trend of the Japanese marrying late or staying single. According to the Japan Times, about a quarter of Japanese people between 20 and 49 are single.

Education and research organisation East-West Center explained that shrinking employment opportunities for Japanese men and lack of funds affect their marriage prospects. Many Japanese men work temporary jobs, which makes them seem undesirable to women. Ryosuke Nishida, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, told The Atlantic, “If you graduate and you don't find a job as a regular employee, people look at you as a failure.”

On the flip side, another factor that has been cited as a reason for Japan’s birth rate crisis is the difficulties women face in managing work and taking care of children. The New York Times reported that women in Japan who worked more than 49 hours a week typically do close to 25 hours of housework a week. Meanwhile, their husbands do an average of less than five.

Japan’s government has taken action to counter these problems such as enforcing work-life balance policies and making pre-school education free. Still, it is considered a “super-aged” nation, with senior citizens aged 65 and above making up 28 percent of its population, BBC reported. Its current population stands at about 126 million but is expected to drop to 88.08 million by 2065.

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