Lawmaker raises Diet eyebrows with first-ever bid to take child care leave

JIJI, Kyodo

In an unprecedented move, a ruling party lawmaker has stated plans to take child care leave after his wife gives birth.

“I want to promote men’s participation in child-rearing,” Kensuke Miyazaki, 34, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker in the House of Representatives, told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday.

“I’m ready to work hard to help realize a society where every member can play an active role,” he said, reciting one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new policy goals. Miyazaki’s wife, Megumi Kaneko, 37, is a fellow LDP lawmaker in the Lower House.

The rules for Lower House members do not have a provision for child-rearing leave. In the past, no male Japanese lawmaker is believed to have taken a leave of absence to care for a child.

Miyazaki is considering proposing the establishment of a rule for lawmakers.

He told the party’s executives that he hopes to take about a month’s leave after the baby’s birth in February.

Miyazaki plans to report his absence each time the Lower House holds a plenary meeting but hopes to participate in votes on important bills. The Diet is scheduled to open the 150-day ordinary session on Jan. 4.

The couple, who married in February, held a wedding reception Wednesday in Tokyo at which Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga proposed that a nonpartisan group craft legislation on child care leave for lawmakers.

“The Abe Cabinet supports child-rearing. Trust Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and take some leave,” Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said.

Some in the party oppose Miyazaki’s plan.

“He should rest if he doesn’t have the motivation to work,” one senior member said.

LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki raised another potential scenario.

“There will be a problem during an extremely tense situation if one vote can make a difference in the outcome,” he told a news conference Tuesday, referring to votes for enacting laws.

  • Sam Gilman

    Good on him. People in leading positions need to set precedents and good examples.

  • CLJF

    The comments of senior party members are so out of touch. More power to this young politician, may more follow his example.