Tokiko Nakayama speaks to her 6- and 3-year-old sons via her computer at a company apartment for 20 to 30 minutes before going to work every morning.

Nakayama, 36, is among an increasing number of female company employees working away from their families.

Hired by a major beverage maker in Tokyo in 2001 as a career-track worker, she was assigned to work in Kyoto last April. It was a difficult decision to go to the city alone, leaving the boys in the care of her 40-year-old husband, she said.