In a campaign speech ahead of the general election, Aso claimed that Japan’s social security costs were rising because young people were not having children. While Aso’s statement is not entirely untrue — Japan’s falling birthrate and aging population will necessarily have economic consequences — he failed to point out that a lack of job security and low wages are what is preventing many young couples back from taking the plunge.
Netizens were outraged by Aso’s comments, with many remarking that Aso simply doesn’t understand how most young people have to live in the current economic climate.
From Yahoo! Japan:
Finance Minister Aso: The Problem Is People Who Don’t Have Children…Remarks Over Social Security Fees
On December 7, Minster of Finance Aso Taro stated at a speech in support of the upcoming election, given at Sapporo City, that concerning the increase in social security fees “a lot of people have made this image that it is the elderly who are at fault for the increase, but the problem is people who don’t have children”.
Aso indicated that “not having children” is the reason why the social security burden is increasing, and therefore it is possible that criticisms will emerge. Aso pointed out that “Because children are not being born, we currently have three children to support one elderly person, and before long we will have a structure in which there are two people supporting one elderly person”. In order to meet increasing social security costs Aso emphasized that “there is nothing we can do other than bear these costs together step by step”. [Yokota Ai]
Comments from Yahoo! Japan:
The falling birthrate is a priority over the aging population. Guess you shouldn’t really say that, Mr. Aso.
He always puts things in a pretty crude way, so they’ll be taken to mean something bad, but it’s certainly true that it’s a problem for a country if there are no new lives coming into the world.
It’s not that people don’t have children, it’s that they can’t have children because of social instability.
I think it would have been better if he’d said that the number of births aren’t increasing rather than saying people aren’t having children. I’m not sure if this guy really doesn’t know how to speak or whether he just leaves a bad impression…
I think that the reason the number of births is not increasing is because the values we live by today are different from how they were in the old days.
In particular, when women think about working, this limits the number of children.
I think it’s difficult if there is no co-operation from the rest of the family when you have both work and housework.
We need more job stability.
There was some manifesto written about relaxing the system for dismissing workers.
And there is no social security if you haven’t found a job after a year.
You have to survive by yourself so there are a lot of people who are doing all they can.
I don’t think he really understands what’s going on. Isn’t the main problem that even if people can have children they don’t have enough income to raise them?
No way, impossible.
It’s impossible to have kids.
Say all this after our wages go up.
I don’t think that the elderly are at fault, but we just can’t support them.
If that’s the problem then shouldn’t they develop some laws to solve it?
They way things are today, I think that there is just too much risk in getting married and having and raising a child.
I don’t know what will happen to me.
I see what he’s trying to say, but these days social security is different.
The reason that such an unbalanced, unfair system has been created is because there are so many elderly who have protected their own vested interests.
How about lowering consumption tax back to 5% so that people can start having children!!
Aso has definitely said that “if you don’t have any dough, don’t get married”, he doesn’t seem to care he’s inconsistent.
Certainly it’s big problem that children aren’t being born, but actually I think it’s more of a problem that we life in a society where young couples are pessimistic about a future where getting married costs money, never mind have children.
He’s got a completely different perspective to me, that’s for sure…rather than saying people don’t have children, he should be saying that people can’t afford to have children and bring them up.
For Young people today, who even have misgivings about their own futures, is having children and raising them something they can actually do?
In such a situation, isn’t it clearly more irresponsible to have children?
I reckon this guy just doesn’t get the sense of money that most people have, but we have to make him understand that in reality there are couples out there who can’t have children because their salaries are so low.
I wish he’d not only think about lowering the wages of civil servants, but raising the wages of everyone else.
If everyone’s wages were higher, the number of couples marrying and having children would probably rise.
I wish Aso would understand this.
The correct turn of phrase is “the problem is a situation whereby couples cannot have children and cannot raise them”.
And who are the people who made an environment in which it is difficult to have children and difficult to raise them?
It was you politicians, right?
Nowadays young people have nothing but anxieties about their future, and have their hands full with just themselves.
I guess he’s popular online, but Aso makes too many gaffes, and I just can’t rate him because I think that those gaffes are what he actually thinks.
Even if they want to marry they can’t, and they can’t afford to raise children.
It’s completely awful to say that it’s young people’s fault.
I understand that the elderly are who he’s aiming for, but these remarks are a problem.