"Urgent Need for Job Stability/Income Differential Correction to Counter the Falling Birthrate"

President Sasamori Pushes for Support of Families with Children at Govt./Private Summit

13 May 2005
On May 10th, RENGO President Sasamori attended the government-led "Government-Private Summit Meeting for Support of Families with Children" held at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. He exchanged opinions with various Ministers and representatives from business groups regarding measures to counter the declining birthrate and how to support the raising of children. The meeting was held from the standpoint that advancing a review of the ways of working while promoting balance between work and family are key countermeasures against the declining birthrate and in order for Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda to demand that labor and business leaders think of appropriate activities for this issue.

Attendees from business organizations included: Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) Chairman Okuda, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Chairman Yamaguchi, Central Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry President Seike, Japan Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development (JPC-SED) Chairman Ushio, Japan Association of Corporate Executives the Committee on the Vision of Depopulation Society (FY2004) Chairperson Kono, and National Federation of Small Business Association Vice Chairman Saeki. From the government side attendees included Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda, Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Otsuji, and Minister of Justice/Minister for the State of Youth Affairs and Declining Birthrate Measures Nohno.

At the outset of the meeting Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda said that "in order to stop the declining birthrate, it is crucial to promote a work-family balance for workers, and in this regard businesses' efforts are especially important. We need to effect a change in the consciousness and the leadership of business owners. We expect business to cooperate on such matters as making access easier to child-care leave and a shorter working hour system as well as the re-employment of workers who had to leave their jobs due to childbirth."

Speaking about the selection of members, President Sasamori suggested that "thinking about what you can do on the local level is also important to help countermeasures against the declining birthrate. Meetings should be held with local government officials in attendance." Sasamori introduced attendees to what RENGO Headquarters has been doing including the creation of a manual of "action plans" as well as ways that RENGO has continued to support unit unions' activities at the Spring Struggle for the purpose of promoting a balance between work and family. Furthermore, Sasamori proposed specific countermeasures for the declining birthrate and to support child-raising:
  1. In order for people to work and raise children without anxiety, stabilize jobs by halting any switching of permanent workers to part-time/dispatched worker status and correct income disparities.
  2. Bring about a harmonization of work and daily life through a reduction of long hours of working, etc.
  3. Pointing out the possibility of raising children and family-related benefits he said, "Unless we set population goals and a target date and fight for them across our entire society, I fear that our population will rapidly decrease naturally."
After each group spoke of their own individual efforts and opinions, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda indicated that he intended to hold another meeting like this again in the beginning of the fall saying that "we are now standing on the starting line of a new recognition that the declining birthrate is the biggest problem facing our 21st century. We want the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy to discuss this matter and how it will be turned into a social movement; we also would like to receive input from each group on their determination and proposals and take those into consideration when compiling the budget.”