02/24/2015, 00.00
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Japan, state funds to freeze eggs and have children after 45 years of age

The city of Utayasu announces: from April 1 a new wing of the local hospital will be opened for the storage of frozen eggs. The government will pay 70% of medical expenses for women - between 20 and 34 years of age - who want to avail of the program. Japan hit by a demographic crisis that seems irreversible.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Utayasu city government, in Chiba Prefecture, has approved a plan to subsidize women who intend to freeze their eggs to use them over the age of 45. The government has allocated about 90 million yen (almost 670 thousand euro) for research and technology on the freezing and storage of eggs. In addition, it will provide financial support equal to 70% of medical expenses for women who wish to undergo the procedure.

On April 1, the hospital will open a special facility for collecting eggs and freezing them for storage. Eligible women will be chosen from those aged roughly between 20 and 34 at the time of egg collection who plan to use their eggs by 45 in principle and attend lectures on egg freezing and storage. The question of the age and the aging of the ova are among the leading causes of infertility in Land of the Rising Sun, which is heading into a terrible demographic crisis.

The Japanese birth rate hit a new record low in 2014, stopping at just over a million babies. This is a decline of about 9 thousand units compared to 2013. The data was released by the Ministry of Health. That makes four consecutive years of decreases, while the number of deaths expected in the new year continues to rise. In 2013, there were 1.3 million deaths.

According to some estimates, if this course is not reversed by 2050 the Japanese population will reach 97 million, or 30 million people less. Experts, economists and sociologists, warn the government that the impact of the decline will harm Japan in various ways.

A lowering of the number of people aged between 15 to 64 is predicted to lower potential growth and shrink Japan's GDP. A decline in the population is said by experts to have damaging consequences for Japan. That in turn is expected to harm the pension system and other elements of social welfare. The impact in rural areas is predicted to be especially damaging, putting the very existence of some communities in danger.

Instead of raising the awareness among young people and supporting them in creating a family, the government is choosing alternative routes. According to the mayor of Urayasu, who approved this expenditure in the budget, "we have to create a society in which we can give birth and raise a child without worries." The reference is to the ongoing debate in civil society: on the one hand there are those who support the traditional family and procreation at a young age; on the other hand, those who maintain  that only once economic stability has been achieved can people have children.



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