February 15, 2009 / 1:14 PM / in 9 years

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

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.

<p>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</p>

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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