A Japanese lawmaker reportedly suggested women should have at least three children, and avoid staying single, lest they eventually become a burden on the state.
Kanji Kato, 72, is a member of the House of Representatives and is from the Liberal Democratic Party. He was addressing a party meeting where he reportedly told a group of party members that whenever he is given a chance to speak at a wedding ceremony, he urges newlyweds to have multiple children.
“I tell them that if they don’t get married then they won’t be able to have children, and that they’ll end up in a care home paid for with the taxes of other people’s children,” he said.
The remarks were met with outrage instantly as a female party member interrupted Kato. The unnamed woman said the lawmaker’s remarks were sexist and added, “This is exactly sexual harassment.”
Other party members also joined in and criticized the politician. Despite the backlash, Kato said he stood by his comments and refused to take them back.
However, his office later released a statement saying he has retracted the statement and that the remark was “not intended to disrespect women.”
The country faces an aging and shrinking population.
The sexist comments come just days after the country’s official data revealed the country’s population shrank to a record low of 15.5 million. The ratio of children to adults also dropped to another record low.
Japan also faces a low birthrate.
In 2017, the number of births in Japan fell to its lowest since records began more than a century ago with about 941,000 new babies. Governments have for years tried to encourage families to have more children but the population keeps shrinking and aging.
“What’s behind this is a continuous decline in the number of women in the typical childbearing age bracket of 25 to 39,” a health ministry official said.
Although Japan is not open to immigration, recently, the government introduced plans to attract students and high-skilled workers from overseas.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Edgar Su