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Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008


Policies discourage childbearing


Moving the birthrate up from its presently pitiful levels is a task for which every member and segment of Japan government, community, business has some degree of responsibility. From the point of view of the business world, it would be helpful if pricing policies made the participation of families in leisure and recreation as easy as possible. At the very least, however, there must surely be a determination by business not to discriminate against young families.

Recently I wrote a letter of complaint to an international Australian airline concerning the fact that my baby daughter had been charged a full fuel surcharge. As anyone who has ever been assessed with a penalty for having overweight baggage can attest, there is a direct relationship between fuel cost and weight, and therefore it should logically follow that the fuel surcharge of a baby be assessed at something around a quarter to a fifth of an adult.

I pointed out these facts to the airline in question, and was politely informed that the airline assesses fuel surcharge on the basis of passenger numbers, that they consider this to be "reasonable," and that everyone else does it so why shouldn't they?

I contacted my travel agent and found that both of the major Japanese international airlines also adhere to this policy -- a policy in which those with young families effectively subsidize those without. While there is no single solution to the birthrate problems of Japan, a review by business of its pricing policies would be a very good place to start. The policy of these airlines is a detriment to families having a second and third child, which Japan genuinely needs.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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