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Economy

Japan's health ministry requests record $286bn for fiscal 2018

Medical, nursing care costs soar amid fast-aging population

TOKYO -- The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's budget request for fiscal 2018 is expected to reach a record level to cover swelling social security spending.

The ministry requested 31.4 trillion yen ($286 billion), up about 740 billion yen, or 2.4%, from this fiscal year's initial budget.

Medical and nursing care expenses are expected to increase by about 3%. The budget request was submitted to the Liberal Democratic Party's Health, Labor and Welfare Division on Friday morning.

The ministry expects medical expenditures from the government to increase 2.6% from the initial budget to 11.8 trillion yen, while nursing care costs will jump 3.4% to 3 trillion yen.

For fiscal 2018, the government is slated to review medical and nursing care fees, as well as levels of welfare payments. As social security costs are expected to surge by 2025, when baby boomers reach age 75 or older, there have been calls for a dramatic overhaul of payments and the burden of social security. At the same time, many are voicing concerns about painful reforms. Discussions within the government and between the government and the ruling party are likely to intensify.

To eliminate the problem of children waiting to get into nursery schools, the ministry has decided to establish nursery schools to accommodate 220,000 children by fiscal 2020. For the next fiscal year, nursery schools with a capacity of 90,000 will be secured. The ministry requested a budget of about 140 billion yen to help increase the number of nursery schools and hire teachers for them.

(Nikkei)

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