In Fukushima Prefecture, where the percentage of eligible men taking paternity leave is 13.5% — below the national average of 14% — companies are taking measures to encourage workers to make use of the time off.

The measures include avoiding the creation of tasks that can be handled only by certain people, and issuing support manuals. The Fukushima Prefectural Government is also supporting the moves by expanding subsidies.

A new system was launched on Oct. 1, under the revised child care leave law, allowing fathers to take up to four weeks of leave within eight weeks of their child’s birth, on top of an existing system that allows for longer periods of leave during the child’s first year.