Japan to encourage civil servants to take more paternity leave

By on 04/11/2019
According to Japan’s National Personnel Authority, only 1,350 – or 21.6% – of male government staff in regular full-time service and eligible for paternity leave, took advantage of it in 2018. (Image courtesy: scion cho/flickr).

The Japanese government is to begin encouraging male civil servants to take more than one month childcare leave from 2020, government sources told Japan Today last week.

The government is also said to be considering introducing measures to evaluate managers’ performance based partly on how many subordinates take such leave, and to make it easier for leave applicants to make work arrangements in their absence, according to the sources.

Japan Today reports that the government has been pushing for gender equality and empowerment of women by promoting a mindset tolerant of paternity leave in the public and private sectors. Its latest measures, which are expected to be announced soon, are designed to push this further within government departments.  

According to the National Personnel Authority, only 1,350 – or 21.6% – of male government staff in regular full-time service and eligible for paternity leave, took advantage of it in 2018.

While that represented a 3.5 percentage point rise from a year earlier and was the highest level since 1992 when the system was introduced, it fell far short of the 99.5% rate among women.  

Of the men working in municipal government offices and entitled to paternity leave, only 4.4% took it in 2017, up 0.8 percentage points on the previous year.

It is unusual for men to take extended leave to care for infants in Japan. The authority’s data shows that of all male government workers who took childcare leave last year, 72.1% did so for less than one month.

In the private sector, only 6.16% of new fathers took time off for childcare in 2018 despite central government introducing a subsidy program that enables more companies to offer them support, in contrast with 82.2% among new mothers, according to the labour ministry.

The government is now considering increasing the size of the subsidy provided to each company, the sources told Japan Today.

In Global Government Forum’s 2016/17 Women Leaders Index, a league table and report on the proportion of women among senior civil servants, Japan had the fewest women of all G20 nations bar Saudi Arabia, at 3.5%. The average was 26.4%.    

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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