Published: Fri, January 17, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Japan minister's paternity leave challenges work pressure

Japan minister's paternity leave challenges work pressure

Some other lawmakers initially criticized Koizumi's interest in taking parental leave, saying he should prioritize his duty to the public.

Many have been waiting to see whether Koizumi, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and often seen as a potential future prime minister himself, would actually take paternity leave since he floated the idea previous year.

With his wife, Christel Takigawa, expected to give birth to their baby soon, he has already conveyed his intentions to top officials in the prime minister's office.

Sweden offers 90 days of paid leave to each parent, while Denmark offers a full year and grants the father two weeks of leave in the first 14 weeks after the child is born.

He said Wednesday that he will take paternity leave on a rare train for a cabinet minister. And of those men who take any leave, more than 70% are away for less than a fortnight.

"I now understand the reason for this gap", he said, according to a Reuters translation. Social media also lit up with mixed reactions to his announcement.

A politician announcing that he's taking paternity leave typically doesn't make worldwide headlines. According to a 2017 survey by the Japan Productivity Center, 79.5 percent of new male hires indicated that they wanted to take child care leave on the birth of their child.

Japanese law says men and women are entitled up to one year of leave after having a child.

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"At a time when they're calling for work-life balance, his taking childcare leave is a way of raising awareness".

Koizumi acknowledged that he had heard comments both for and against his decision.

Japan's environment minister became father to a boy and is going ahead with his planned paternity leave - still a rarity in Japan where men are under pressure to put work before family.

Just 6% of men in the Japanese workforce take time off for paternity leave, and a lot of them are for less than a week, Reuters reported, citing government data.

Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Tokyo's Sophia University, told The Times: "Someone as privileged as Koizumi still struggled to get this paternity leave".

Japan is notorious for its non-stop work culture and rigid labor market, and hundreds of men and women have died from health problems and suicides stemming from overwork over the past decade.

There's a development this week involving a Japanese cabinet official that's making national news in that country.

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