APDA The Asian Population and Development AssociationAPDA The Asian Population and Development Association

INTERVIEW

In the field of population policy, it is important that we set out a future plan based on a Japan model and play a leadership role in the world.

Member of the House of Representatives Hon. Yoshinori Suematsu https://www.y-sue.net/

I am extremely concerned about the widening economic gap under the COVID-19 pandemic. I have proposed raising the minimum wage. The minimum wage of 1,300 yen an hour is one of the key policies of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

The national average minimum wage this year is 902 yen an hour, which is the lowest among G7 countries. I am proposing to raise this to 1,500 yen in five years. But because we cannot burden small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the government, while supporting the SMEs, should bear the full burden of raising the minimum wage uniformly across the country, and thereby increase productivity and consumption, revive the economy through income growth, reduce economic inequality, and invigorate rural communities.

Similarly, I am proposing child allowance of 50,000 yen per month until age 15 as a bold policy initiative to stop a decline in fertility. The current level of 10,000 yen cannot put a stop to the declining trend of the birth rate. The population decreased more than 500,000 over the previous year for the first time. I think the government needs to declare a “childcare state of emergency”, secure the necessary budget, and create a significant new momentum.

In addition, medical institutions are increasingly having difficulty getting by as a result of additional burdens for preventing hospital-acquired infections and patients choosing not to visit hospitals for fear of infection during this pandemic. I serve as the Vice-Chair of the nonpartisan “Parliamentary Caucus for Supporting Hospitals Fighting Coronavirus”, which aims to assist such medical institutions in difficulty, and we presented our recommendations to the government.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the issue of population. It has been pointed out that even though Japan is contributing financially, it has very little international presence in this area. Last year, I participated in the Arab and Asian Parliamentarians’ Meeting on Population and Development, which was organized by APDA in Morocco. In this field, I think it is important that we deepen discussions in Japan while considering the interest of our country and of the international community, set out a future plan based on a Japan model, and play a leadership role in the world.

Interviewed in October 2020

※The titles shown are those held at the time of interview.

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