Former Bank of Japan official OGURA Masanobu, 41, was appointed birth minister in Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio’s new cabinet on Wednesday. Replacing the female ruling party veteran Seiko Noda, Ogura was installed to deepen Kishida’s understanding behind the cause of the plunging birth rate in the country.
This move comes after the former bank official, married with no children, tried out a “pregnancy belly” in a project organized by the youth division of the Liberal Democratic Party in April last year.
Kishida, addressed a news conference that Ogura’s appointment was a step towards him obtaining a “young and fresh perspective.”
Upon receiving the post, Ogura in a news conference stressed the urgency of enhancing the policies that help families raise children, the Kyoiku newspaper reported.
According to the Sankei newspaper, the project consisted of Ogura and two other male lawmakers that kept the 7.3 kg (16 pound) pregnancy bellies on while going on with their daily tasks. This particular move was to understand the strain of carrying a child. The suit, which would be attached to the body, is designed to simulate weight gain that occurs around the seven-month mark of a pregnancy, according to Ogura’s blog.
He further stated in his blog, that in the duration of the project he experienced back pain, and constantly found himself about his safety and bumping against passengers on a crowded train.
“I certainly feel I want to dedicate more of my limited time as a lawmaker to supporting pregnant women,” he said.
Japanese Health Ministry Data displayed a record low of 811,604 births, while death rates shot up to 1.44 million. The country is seeing a shrinking working-age population which is being forced to support an increasing number of people aged 65 and above. The latter now makes up 29% of the population. Additionally, pre-existing low levels of immigration have been further constricted by strict border measures during the pandemic.