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Japanese birth-rate politician is pregnant

THE cabinet minister charged with finding ways to lift Japan's low birth rate is pregnant with her second child, media reported yesterday.

Yuko Obuchi, 35, was quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying she was worried about juggling motherhood and her job, a problem many experts say has helped keep the birth rate low in Japan, 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 saying. The baby is due in September.

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

Japan's fertility rate stood at 1.34 children for each woman in 2007, far from the 2.07 needed to keep a population from falling.


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