20% of young fathers put in 60-hour weeks

Kyodo, JIJI

Nearly twenty percent of male employees in their 30s work more than 60 hours a week, making it difficult for them to participate in raising children, a 2013 government white paper on dealing with the low birthrate showed Tuesday.

The report stressed the need to curb prolonged working hours for those with small children as a way of tackling the dwindling birthrate. It found that a father with children younger than 6 years old spends only around one hour each day on child-rearing and other domestic tasks — around one-third of the level in the U.S. and Scandinavian nations.

According to the white paper, the rate of male employees working more than 60 hours a week in 2012 stood at 18.2 percent for those in their 30s, 17.5 percent for those in their 40s and 12.9 percent for those in their 50s.

It said male workers should take more child-care leave, noting that a fiscal 2011 labor ministry survey showed only 2.63 percent of them took it, compared with 87.8 percent of female workers.

The white paper also showed 20 percent of men and 10 percent of women have never been married by the age of 50. The rate of married men among nonregular workers is less than half that of regular employees.

A 2011 survey showed that the average age of first marriages for women nationwide stood at 29, up 3.8 from 1980, and the average age of first-time mothers topped 30 for the first time, the white paper said.

Meanwhile, the report reiterated government plans to increase the number of nurseries to reduce the number of young children on waiting lists. It plans to accommodate an additional 200,000 children nationwide by 2015 and another 200,000 by 2017.