A decision by the Japanese government to abolish special welfare payments to single-parent families makes a mockery of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's vow to build a caring nation, according to a leading professor of economics. The decision to stop monthly payments of up to 23,260 yen (HK$1,560) to one of the most needy sectors of Japanese society was also contrary to official campaigns to halt the nation's steeply declining birth rate, said Noriko Hama, of Kyoto's Doshisha University. The initiative was announced by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and is part of government efforts to cut welfare spending next year by 40 billion yen. On Friday, the government also approved a white paper that warns Japan faces a population crisis if measures are not taken soon to encourage people to have more children. More people died in Japan last year than were born, it points out, the first time that statistic has been recorded in Japan. 'The situation is farcical,' Professor Hama said. 'They are taking away with one hand what they say they are giving with the other. 'So much for the 'beautiful country' that Mr Abe has promised us, the kind and caring nation where everyone would have a second chance. 'It seems to me that he is appealing to the people who don't need care or kindness and forcing the people who are feeling the pain more and more out of the picture,' she said. An estimated 1 million families are eligible for welfare contributions, which cost the government 2.7 trillion yen a year. The authorities previously announced plans to reduce welfare payments for the elderly.