Japan must boost the role of women and the elderly in society, PM Abe says

Respect for diversity will be "required like never before" and could help solve Japan's problems of a low birth rate and aging population, the country's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday, just hours after meeting President Donald Trump.

Speaking via video link to an audience at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Abe said that Japan is trying to boost the role of women and the elderly in society.

"Respect for diversity will be required like never before," Abe said.

"Our challenge is to create new economic and social system that includes the active participation of women and promotion of employment opportunities to the elderly … where women and the elderly can maximize their hidden potential."

President Donald Trump (L) greets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he arrives at the White House on February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

Abe said that by "unleashing" the potential of these two groups, Japan can tackle two of it's biggest problems: the ageing population and low birth rate.

People aged over 65 account for 26.7 percent of Japan's population of 127 million, official census data from 2015, the last time it was carried out, showed. That was up 3.7 percentage points from the previous census in 2010. Also, the country's population is forecast to fall to 86 million in 2060.

The Japanese Prime Minister's comments comes after meeting Trump for the first time since he became the U.S. President. Both heads of state talked about bringing U.S.-Japanese relations closer.

On Sunday, North Korea carried out a missile test that landed in the Sea of Japan, immediately testing U.S.-Japanese relations. Trump backed Japan.

"I just want everybody to understand, and fully know, that the United States of America is behind Japan, our great ally, 100 percent," Trump told reporters in Palm Beach, Florida.

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