Japan’s new Prime Minister has pledged to help those struggling to conceive by covering the cost in health insurance, local media is reporting
Yoshihide Suga, who took office earlier in the autumn, recognised that depopulation was a major challenge for the country during his campaign for office.
He said: “To support households that want to have children we will make infertility treatments applicable to health insurance.”
Japan does not officially recognise infertility as a disease so treatment is only available privately.
The cost can run into several hundred thousand yen- the equivalent of thousands of US dollars – for a single IVF cycle. But with the new health insurance couples would only pay 30 percent of the cost.
In 2016, the number of newborn babies fell to just under one million for the first time, and in 2019 figures show it stood at 865,000, according to the Guardian.
For the population to remain stable, the average number of children a family needs to have is 2.2, but that figure is currently just 1.6.
The Japanese government hopes to raise that figure to 1.8 and believe cheaper access to IVF could be a possible solution to the issue.
How popular is IVF in Japan as a family making option?
The first IVF birth was recorded in Japan in 1983 and since then it has become a popular choice for women who married later in life and want to have a family.
One in 16 babies were born via IVF in 2018, that is a total of 57,000 babies.
Professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Saitama Medical University, Osamu Ishihara said there is no simple explanation for Japan’s low birth rate.
He said: “Covering fertility treatment will help a little, but that alone will not be enough to lift the birth rate.
“Treatments for men are quickly introduced but women are at a huge disadvantage. In the UK fertility treatments are paid for by the NHS. But in Japan women have to pay for everything from contraception to abortion.”
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