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Let's discuss paternity leave

This week’s featured article

JIJI

To the knowledge of more than 40 percent of Japanese workers, no fathers at their workplaces had taken any child care leave, according to a Jiji Press opinion survey in June.

Among respondents with jobs, 31.5 percent, the largest share, said that paternal leave systems are in place at their workplace but that the atmosphere does not encourage the use of such leave. They were followed by 27.2 percent who said there is no such supportive system at the workplace and 17.1 percent who said they do not have access to such a system as they are either self-employed or freelancers. Those who said child care leave systems have been established at their workplace and they are easy to use for men accounted for 13.9 percent.

Asked about the length of paternity leave used by their colleagues, the biggest group of those who have such a leave system at their workplaces, at 42.3 percent, said no one to their knowledge has taken any leave. According to the survey, 9.6 percent said their male colleagues took leave of between two and six days, followed by six months to one year at 8.5 percent and two to five months at 7.7 percent. Those who cited paternity leave of longer than a year accounted for 2.4 percent, while 1.3 percent said their male colleagues took only one day off for child care.

Of all respondents, 39.8 percent said fathers do not need to take child care leave but should help their wives if they are needed. They were followed by those who said fathers should prioritize work and help only when they have time, at 31.3 percent, and those who think that fathers should focus on work and leave child-rearing to their wives, at 4.1 percent. The share of respondents who said fathers should participate in child-rearing to the same extent as their wives by taking child care leave or other means stood at only 20.6 percent.

First published in The Japan Times on July 13.

Warm up

One-minute chat about raising children

Game

Collect words related to father: e.g., child, family, work

New words

1) atmosphere: the mood or character of the surrounding environment, e.g. “I like that cafe because it has a relaxed atmosphere.”

2) rear: to raise, e.g. “They rear chickens on their farm.”

3) prioritize: to designate something as being very important, e.g. “She priortizes her daughter’s education.”

Guess the headline

Few Japanese dads take advantage of p_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ l_ _ _ _, survey finds

Questions

1) What percentage of fathers have access to paternity leave?

2) Why do most fathers not take advantage of paternity leave?

3) What did 39.8 percent of respondents say about the role of fathers?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you know of a father who has taken paternity leave before?

2) What do you think about men taking time off work in order to raise their newborn children?

3) Do you think more men should take paternity leave?

Reference

男女平等の働き方や男性の子育てへの参画が推奨されるようになり、企業の制度もこの数年で随分と整ってきたように見受けられますが、人の意識や職場の雰囲気は、仕組みを変えたところですぐに変わるものではないようです。場の空気を読むことを得意とする日本人だからこそ、たとえ制度が改善されても男性が育休をとれる雰囲気ではないと察すればその制度を活用しようという機運は盛り上がらず、整えたはずの育休制度も形骸化してしまうことでしょう。

男性も育休を取りやすい社会にするためにはどのようなことが求められているのか、朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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