National

Japanese government to urge its male staff to take paternity leave in hopes private sector follows suit

Kyodo

The government will begin encouraging male workers in the national public service sector to take more than a month of child care leave starting in fiscal 2020, so as to encourage similar moves for workers with local governments and in the private sector, government sources said Tuesday.

It is considering introducing measures to make it easier for paternity leave applicants to make work arrangements in their absence, and to evaluate managers’ performance based partly on how many subordinates take such leave, according to the sources.

The government will soon announce the plan, the sources added.

The central government has been pushing for gender equality and empowerment of women by promoting tolerance of paternity leave in the public and private sectors, as the practice of men taking extended leave to care for infants is still not widespread.

According to the National Personnel Authority, 1,350 — or 21.6 percent — of male government staff in regular full-time service who were eligible for paternity leave took advantage of the system in fiscal 2018.

But 72.1 percent of those who took paternity leave did so for a month or less, followed by 13.5 percent who took leave for between one month and three months. Only 6.1 percent took leave for more than three months.

While the fiscal 2018 figure represented a 3.5 point rise from a year earlier and was the highest since fiscal 1992, when the child care leave system was introduced, it fell far short of the 99.5 percent rate among women, the authority said.

Meanwhile, the proportion of male staff at prefectural and municipal governments who took paternity leave was far smaller than at the national level, at 4.4 percent in fiscal 2017, according to the internal affairs ministry.

In the private sector, the figure was 6.16 percent in fiscal 2018, according to the labor ministry.

The government aims to raise these figures by introducing new measures in the national public service sector, the sources said.

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