February 15, 2009 / 1:13 PM / 11 years ago

Japan "birth rate minister" to have 2nd child-media

Japan's newly appointed Gender Issues Minister Yuko Obuchi speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo September 24, 2008. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - The cabinet minister charged with finding ways to lift Japan’s low birth rate is pregnant with her second child, media reported on Sunday.

Yuko Obuchi, 35, was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency that she was worried about juggling motherhood and her job, a problem many experts say has helped keep the birth rate low, which has added to policy problems in a fast-aging society.

“Irrespective of myself being a minister or prospects of an election, I’d like to give birth to a healthy child,” Kyodo quoted Obuchi as telling a group of supporters. She said the baby was due in September.

Obuchi, who would be Japan’s first incumbent cabinet minister to become pregnant while in office, is a member of parliament’s lower house. A parliamentary election must be held by October.

Admitting to her concerns about balancing work and family, Obuchi told Kyodo: “But as someone leading the country’s efforts to cope with declining childbirths, I cannot be daunted.”

Obuchi has toddler son.

Japan’s fertility rate, or the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, stood at 1.34 in 2007, far from an estimated 2.07 needed to keep a population from falling.

Reporting by Linda Sieg

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