The National Personnel Authority will survey how fathers employed by government agencies view the parental leave program in an attempt to get more employees to take time off after the birth of a child, it has been learned.
By encouraging more fathers to use the program, the NPA hopes to make it easier for moms who take maternity or child care leave to return to work early, informed sources said.
The NPA plans to survey some 5,000 fathers at public agencies who did not take parental leave to find out why, the sources said.
In Japan, civil servants are entitled to parental leave until the child turns 3. While over 90 percent of mothers take such leave, only a mere 4 percent of fathers did so in the fiscal year ended in March 2012.
Women take child care leave for an average of 14.6 months, but about 40 percent of the men who took it returned to work after less than a month. By making clear the specific reasons, for example concerns about losing income or lack of support in the office, for example, the NPA wants to improve state working environments as well as the program.
The study will begin in October and the results will be published by March, when the current fiscal year ends.
The government said in its third basic plan for gender equality adopted in 2010 that it will try to raise the ratio of male bureaucrats who take parental leave to 13 percent by 2020.
The rate for men is also low at private companies and stood at 2 percent in the year to March, the health ministry said.
The government hopes that promoting a work environment that makes it easier for fathers at state agencies to take parental leave will also boost the rate in the private sector.
Frozen egg registration
The Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine is considering launching a registration system for hospitals and other medical institutions that plan to freeze and store unfertilized eggs from single women, according to Yasunori Yoshimura, head of the group.
The JSRM plans to require registered medical institutions to fully explain the technical difficulties involved in the process to prospective clients and report the number of cases in which it is used.
The organization recently compiled a draft of guidelines to approve frozen storage to meet demand from women hoping to preserve their eggs while young for use in the future.
The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology currently permits the method only for women undergoing cancer and other medical treatments that lead to the loss of ovarian functions.
But some medical institutions are believed to be offering frozen egg storage to healthy women. This led the JSRM to propose the registration system and set certain standards for using the method.