Japan’s birthrate has been slumping for decades, and while anyone packed into a crowded Tokyo commuter train might momentarily be fine with the concept of fewer people, long-term it presents problems for Japan’s pension, health insurance, and other social welfare and economic systems.

Because of that, both the national and local governments are constantly investigating new initiatives to encourage people to start cranking out more kids, and the latest plan from the city of Sado, Niigata Prefecture, is to give parents two million yen (US$18,180) for having a third kid, and also for each additional kid after that.

In an attempt to stop the declining birthrate, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture, has decided to provide a total of 2 million yen to families with the third and subsequent children in line with childbirth and growth.

Sado City has started an initiative to provide financial support to families who have a third or subsequent child in the city at the time of birth or when they go on to school.The target is households with children born on or after April 2, 2021, and the amount gradually received is 200,000 yen at birth, 400,000 at 6 years old, 500,000 at 12 years old, and 800,000 at 15 years old. The feature is that it increases.Apart from this, the city has also started a project to provide a uniform 100,000 yen as a birth celebration for the born child from this year, and when combined with this, a total of 2 million yen will be paid for each child after the third child. ..

In a survey conducted by the city on child-rearing households in the city in 2020, more than half of the respondents answered that they wanted “3” children, but some said that they could not meet it for financial reasons. It means that many were sent.The city hopes to stop the declining birthrate and promote migration through continuous support for the child-rearing generation.Since such support projects are rare in Japan, Mayor Watanabe of Sado City said, “I want to create a system to support child-rearing throughout Sado City.”

That’s not to say that a city official shows up in the delivery room with a stack of 200 10,000-yen bills, though, since the grant is meant to help with the costs of both child rearing and education. The parents receive a payment of 200,000 on the occasion of the child’s birth followed by sums of 400,000, 500,000, and 800,000 yen when they turn 6, 12, and 15 years old, roughly aligning with the ages when they start elementary, middle, and high school (as high school is not part of compulsory education in Japan, even public high schools charge tuition). Combined with a separate Sado program started earlier in the year that gives a 100,000-yen grant for any birth in the city, the total payment for each third or later child comes out to two million yen.

As Japanese lifestyles continue to evolve and become more diverse, there’s comparatively less social pressure to have children than there was in previous generations, and thus a larger number of people who simply aren’t interested in having kids of their own. Respecting their freedom to make that choice, and instead concentrating on couples who’ve already decided they want to be parents but are hesitant to expand their brood because of budgetary concerns, sounds like a win-win.

On the other hand, one could argue that waiting until the third child for the major economic support to kick in makes it harder for childless couples to make that first, or even second, step into parenthood, and that spreading the benefits more evenly among births could lower that entry barrier.

Still, for couples who would like big family, two million yen is a lot of money, and Sado hopes that the program not only promotes births among its current households, but also helps convince people from other parts of Japan to move to the city and raise their children there. And if nothing else, it sounds like a better plan than relying on parental nagging or A.I. matchmakers.

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