Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets with reporters March 31 to explain a proposal to deal with the falling birthrate. (Koichi Ueda)

Japan has earmarked the next three years as the last chance to reverse the falling birthrate and halt an irreversible decline in the nations population.

The government, in calling for urgent action, noted that the population of younger Japanese of child-bearing age will drop drastically from the 2030s, leaving just a few years to put appropriate measures in place.

On March 31, it released a broad outline of proposals to tackle a problem that has been festering for many years. But the hard part will come in the next few months.

Officials are being tasked to hammer out the specifics of a range of programs intended to provide better childcare services as well as more generous child allowances. But finding the funds to pay for the measures will not be easy.

The government made no bones about the next three years being a period when a concentrated effort must be made to deal with the declining birthrate before it is too late.

Although still on the drawing board, the steps envision raising the income of the younger generation, thereby allowing couples to make plans to raise a family. A more opaque proposal calls for changing the overall social structure and entrenched notions regarding child care.

It called for seamless support to all households raising children.

The proposal lists economic support to families raising children, better childcare services and changes in working conditions to encourage mothers and fathers to take child care leave as issues that need to be swiftly addressed.

Other measures call for extended child allowances until graduation from senior high school as well as higher monthly sums for families with more than one child.

The national standard for the number of children looked after by a single childcare worker will also be lowered, but with higher pay.

Speaking with reporters March 31, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he wanted to come up with a framework by the end of June so that the budget for children and childcare can be doubled in the future.