According to a UNICEF report, Japan leads the world both in terms of the length and the compensation of its statutory paternity leave. The law grants both mothers and fathers up to 12 months of paid leave, with access to government benefits. The problem is, fathers in Japan rarely take the generous parental leave to which they're entitled.
In 2018, only about 6 percent of fathers took any leave, up from about 3 percent in 2016. By contrast, over 82 percent of working mothers took advantage of parental leave.
Japan has long had a problem with overwork, with many employees skipping vacations and routinely working far more than 40 hours a week. Getting workers to take time off voluntarily is still an uphill struggle. Some think the government should make it mandatory to take time off work after the birth of a child, to force fathers to participate.
Choosing the office over fatherhood:
- The Japanese government is also considering an increase in parental leave benefits for workers, as an incentive -- from covering 67 percent of a worker’s normal salary to 100 percent.
- In 2018, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said 30 percent of male employees between the ages of 20 and 40 want to take parental leave but cannot, mostly because of staff shortages and crushing workloads.
- A 2018 study found that Japanese mothers typically spend 3 hours and 45 minutes on child care each day. On average, men devote only 49 minutes a day to spending time with their kids.