To understand birthrate crisis, Japan’s new male minister tries out ‘pregnancy belly’ -- Aug 12
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida replaced the female minister in charge of tackling the country’s falling birthrate and installed a man who sought to deepen his understanding of the issue by trying out a “pregnancy belly.”

Kishida reshuffled his cabinet Wednesday and named former Bank of Japan official Masanobu Ogura, 41, to take over the post from ruling party veteran Seiko Noda, a mother of one. In an interview with the Associated Press last month, she blamed a male-dominated political world for “indifference and ignorance” toward a plunging birthrate that has become an increasingly serious threat to its economy.

Ogura, who is married with no children, tried out a “pregnancy belly” in a project organized by the youth division of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in April last year.

Kishida told a news conference he mobilized a “young and fresh perspective” to address the problem of a declining population in appointing Ogura.

Ogura said at a news conference after being named to the post that the enhancement of policies helping families raise children is an urgent task, the Kyoiku newspaper reported. He added “the moment of truth is now,” it said.

Ogura and two other male lawmakers were to keep the 7.3 kg (16 pound) pregnancy bellies on while going about their daily routines, in order to understand the burden on the body of carrying a child, the Sankei newspaper reported at the time. The suit, worn strapped to the torso, is meant to simulate the weight gain at the seven-month point of a pregnancy, according to Ogura’s blog. ...continue reading

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