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Japan's new budget puts focus on women, children

Seniors to pay more for care as government reins in social security spending

Japan's latest budget allocates more funds to help families raising children.

TOKYO -- The fiscal 2017 budget and tax code changes enacted Monday by the Japanese Diet feature a shift in state support from the elderly to children and women, in keeping with Tokyo's goal of a more inclusive society. But they do not include ambitious reforms of the sort needed to get Japan's fiscal house in order.

A key question in crafting the budget was how to hold down medical and elder care spending in a "silver democracy" -- that is, a system where growing ranks of politically active seniors wield outsized influence. Natural growth in social security spending, or the increase necessitated by growing numbers of elderly, came in 140 billion yen ($1.26 billion) below the 640 billion yen originally estimated by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

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