With the issue of Japan’s declining birthrate looming ever larger, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to create a society where women can actively participate. Some 60 percent of Japanese women still give up their jobs upon having children, largely due to a work culture that demands long hours of men, placing the burden of child-raising firmly on women’s shoulders. Ironically, Japan has one of the world’s most generous paternity-leave provisions, yet currently only 2.3 percent of eligible new fathers take it.

A small but potentially very significant step in the right direction came when Kensuke Miyazaki, a Kyoto lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, recently announced that he would become Japan’s first politician to take paternity leave when his wife, fellow MP Megumi Kaneko, gives birth next month.

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