The ruling Liberal Democratic Party will propose revisions to the Maternal and Child Health Law in an effort to encourage fathers to take a more active role in raising their children, it was announced Tuesday.
Under the revisions — the latest policy measure aimed at dealing with the anemic birthrate — expecting fathers, as well as mothers, will receive a notebook to keep records on the health of mother and child from pregnancy through early childhood, LDP members said.
The name of the notebook will be changed from the “maternal and child health handbook” to the “parent and child health handbook.”
Municipalities give the notebook to women when they become pregnant. Women are required to register pregnancies with local governments.
The LDP aims to submit a bill of the revisions during the current Diet session. It also calls for fathers to have a correct understanding of pregnancy, childbirth and raising kids.
A draft of the bill was drawn up by a study group of LDP lawmakers who were elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in September.
Municipalities have provided health guidance to both mothers- and fathers-to-be since 1997, in accordance with existing law. The LDP hopes the revisions will encourage parents to cooperate more in childbirth and child-rearing.
The maternal and child health handbook was first introduced in 1942 as the “pregnant women handbook” to reduce infant and maternal mortality by helping pregnant women better monitor their health and that of their children.
The government changed the name to “maternal and child handbook” in 1948, and to “maternal and child health handbook” in 1965 with additional space for recording information such as the child’s development and vaccination data.