Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi declared Wednesday that he will take two weeks of paternity leave after his first baby is born, a pledge that may affect the mindsets of working fathers in a country where few men take time off to care for newborns.

"I intend to take a total of two weeks of paternity leave in the three months after childbirth, during which the mother bears the heaviest burden, on the condition that I prioritize my official duties and thorough crisis management, as I have done," Koizumi told reporters. Koizumi noted that he also will not skip "important public activities," such as the Diet and Cabinet meetings.

To allow for flexibility, Koizumi said he would make greater use of digital methods, such as emails and video conferencing. He could ask a deputy minister or other officials to perform work on his behalf, if necessary. Digitization has been slow to permeate within the government.