National / Social Issues

Tokyo single father takes on paternity harassment with case against Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co.

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

A Canadian single father who filed a complaint against Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. — claiming he was harassed after he took a paternity leave — said Thursday that he hopes his case will highlight workplace struggles faced by fathers in Japan.

“I saw a lot of women in the company going through this and suffering like this, and I got to the point where I couldn’t stay silent,” Glen Wood, 47, told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

And the hurdle is higher for men, he says.

Wood has been working for the firm since September 2012 as an equity sales manager.

But when his partner gave birth to his son in 2015 the company initially rejected his request to take paternity leave on the grounds that he didn’t have a maternity health record book issued by a local municipality, and he was asked to take a DNA test to prove that he was the father, he said.

The firm eventually granted him the leave. But when he returned, he was reassigned to menial work with lower pay, Wood claims.

He gradually grew depressed, he claims, and took sick leave for about six months. When he returned, the company tried to reassign him to a different position with reduced pay, he said, adding that the firm suspended him from work on Oct. 18.

Wood filed a petition with the Tokyo District Court last month, demanding that the brokerage withdraw the suspension. The company acted believing he would be unproductive as a single parent, which is not true, Wood said.

“It seems to be a very clever move for the company to leave me in a very precarious position; not being a full-time resident of Japan, my visa is dependent on my salary,” he said of the unpaid leave.

Yoshitatsu Imaizumi, Wood’s lawyer, said the petition is focused on the right to take paternity leave and that under the law, both women and men are entitled to leave after the birth of a child.

The firm, however, says otherwise.

“Our company has been actively supporting its employees who required time off for paternal leave and has done the utmost to grant Mr. Glen with this opportunity,” a company’s spokesman, who requested his name be withheld, said by telephone.

“We did the utmost to enable Mr. Glen’s continuation of his employment. … We will work with sincerity to resolve this case so that (Mr. Glen) understands our stance,” he said, adding “the company doesn’t treat its workers unfairly only because they take paternity leave.”

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, only 3.16 percent of male workers took paternity leave in fiscal 2016.

With an aim to raise the percentage to 13 percent by 2020, the government has revised its regulations on paternity leave, which took effect in October.

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