• Kyodo News

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The proportion of women working in the private sector who took child care leave after giving birth in fiscal 2008 came to 85.6 percent, marking the first drop since data began to be compiled in fiscal 1996, according to a welfare ministry survey.

An official of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry attributed the 5.0 percentage point drop from the previous fiscal year to the stagnant economic conditions, noting that women employed in small businesses tend not to take the leave.

On the other hand, the survey found that the percentage of men who took child care leave rose 0.49 point to a record 1.72 percent, although it remained much lower than the government’s target of 10 percent by fiscal 2017.

Businesses that have introduced child care leave for their employees accounted for 68.0 percent, up 1.6 points from the previous year.

The ratio came to 89.4 percent among businesses with 30 or more regular workers, suggesting that the leave is more widely introduced among larger firms.

Of the businesses surveyed, 85.6 percent allowed their employees to take child care leave until their children reached 18 months of age, in accordance with the child care law, followed by 9.2 percent that allowed the leave until the infants are 2 years old or older.

None of the companies allowed child care leave for children more than 3 years old.

The survey was taken in October 2009 on about 5,800 businesses with five or more regular workers, with responses obtained from about 4,500 of them.

The child care law was introduced in 1992.

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