Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo and his Japanese counterpart, Masaji Matsuyama, met in Seoul to discuss the pressing issue facing both countries.
The Seoul government plans to carefully study the case of Japan, as the neighboring country has been coping with a rapidly aging population and related side effects for the past decade.
|Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo (R) shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart, Masaji Matsuyama, during a forum in Seoul on Oct. 19, 2017. (Yonhap)|
"Japan had a record-low of 970,000 newborns in 2016," said the Japanese minister said in a press conference in Seoul, adding that the decreasing population is greatly affecting the economy.
Last year, an all-time low of 406,300 babies were delivered in South Korea, with the fertility rate reaching 1.17, the lowest number in seven years.
"The government will actively deal with the issue of low birthrate and an aging society by pushing forward policies that will change the situation," said Park.
Local experts have pointed out that a low birthrate will reduce the workforce in South Korea, limiting economic growth and driving up welfare costs. This, they said, will undermine the growth potential of the economy as a whole.
The Seoul government has recently announced a series of plans, including child subsidies and expanded maternity leave to encourage people to have more babies, but most of them seem to have fallen short of expectations. (Yonhap)