TOKYO, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida asked his government on Wednesday to increase the annual childcare budget by around 3.5 trillion yen (25 billion U.S. dollars) during a three-year intensive period to address the country's declining birth rate.
Kishida unveiled the increased size of spending, which was slightly more than previously suggested, at a meeting of cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki and Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto.
Goto told reporters after their meeting that Kishida instructed him to boost funding to prevent child poverty and abuse, expand support for children with disabilities, and reduce the financial burden of higher education.
Goto said the government will compile a draft plan based on Wednesday's instruction and aims to commence coordination with members of the ruling parties.
The Japanese government had previously considered securing around 3 trillion yen per year to cover the expansion of childcare allowances and other related benefits from fiscal 2024.
The number of babies born in Japan in 2022 slipped to a record low, falling under 800,000 for the first time since records began in 1899. The drop comes much earlier than the government expected.