Honeymoon in the danchi
The administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is determined to increase the birth rate—last year it fell below 800,000, 10 years earlier than expected—by any means necessary, even going so far as to suggest raising the consumption tax in order to fund programs that would encourage young people to marry and procreate, which sounds not only desperate but eminently wrong-headed. Another head-scratcher is the proposal to forgive student loans to either spouse or both spouses in a marriage when they produce a child, an idea that opposition lawmakers have found risible for a variety of reasons.
Koichi Hagiuda, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s policy chief, has another idea: Give young couples, regardless of income, priority to enter low-rent public housing. Tokyo Shimbun reports that Hagiuda made the suggestion at a party meeting in Saitama, saying that the first order of business for newleyweds is finding a place to live. The thing is, the central government doesn’t manage housing for the general public. Public housing in Japan is only maintained at the prefectural and municipal levels, so the government would have to get them to agree to the proposal.
The party’s secretary-general, Toshimitsu Motegi, elaborated on the idea by saying that the usual upper income limitations would have to be waived for the proposal to work. He also said that initial estimates indicate such a program would cost about ¥150 billion, most of which would be spent on renovations of public housing. On January 30, Hagiuda explained in the Diet that the current income qualification for public housing applicants—household monthly income should not exceed ¥158,000—would have to be changed for newlyweds, but in any case he said it shouldn’t be a problem since there are 200,000 vacant public housing units nationwide.Read More