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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 7)

All Headlines 07:29 June 07, 2017

Ministry for lifting birthrate

The government restructuring plan announced Monday has much room for improvement since it lacks emphasis on some key national priorities.

There is a lack of future-oriented thinking in the plan, which consists of 18 ministries and does not look very much different from the previous administration. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will retain the trade function although there had been some expectations that it would be transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of the noticeable differences is that there will be a new ministry for small- and medium-sized companies and tech startups.

The minimal organizational restructuring is aimed at ensuring stability in managing state affairs and continuity of policy implementation. But President Moon Jae-in could have been bolder in establishing ministries that the country really needs right now.

The biggest fault with the plan is that there was no establishment of a high-level post or ministry for tackling the birthrate crisis, which is one of the gravest challenges the nation faces.

The absence of a control tower for birthrate programs has significantly hampered their effectiveness, as they are scattered among various ministries.

President Moon needs to think in earnest about what has kept many Korean women from having children although the government has spent 100 trillion won on programs to promote the birthrate in the last 10 years.

Korea's birthrate of just 1.17 children per woman is among the lowest in the world. Many women are wondering how much lower it has to get before the government truly takes the problem seriously.

Korea needs to learn from Japan, which recorded its highest birthrate in 21 years last year with 1.46 children per woman. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe created a new cabinet minister in charge of boosting the birthrate and supporting families with children. Moon should establish a ministry for population issues during his term. This will convince more women that the government is committed to helping women with children.
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