When Emi Tanimura failed to find a day care slot for her newborn daughter, the need to avoid long periods away from her job at communications firm Sunny Side Up made it necessary to take what is a radical step in Japan; she started working from home.

Now a mother of two, she still works flexible hours — including time at home — as director of the Sunny Side Up president's office, taking care of both her family responsibilities and her career with the blessing of her boss.

Tanimura is a rare exception to the rule in hard-driven corporate Japan, where employees often feel pressured to put in long hours at the office.