In this presentation I offer an overview of recent Japanese policies to boost the declining birthrate and examine the way the issue is framed in policy debates. The Japanese government began offering a programmatic response to declining birthrates in 1994 with the Angel Plan, to facilitate the harmonization of work and family life through childrearing support. Subsequent policies have tended toward social management of the life course by supporting activities to promote marriage, the self-sufficiency of young workers, and young people's awareness of the importance of family and life. I examine the portrayal of declining fertility in policy debates as a diffuse social risk generated by young people who are underemployed and delaying marriage. It is important to understand this portrayal, I argue, to make sense of the new stage of policymaking.
Liv Coleman is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Social Science.