Regarding the Sept. 5 editorial “Definitions of fatherhood“: Fathers need to say “no” to unpaid overtime and “yes” to changing diapers, bathing, feeding and playing with their children in the evenings. As for the ikumen trend that the welfare ministry is promoting, get real! How many fathers in Japan have the luxury of choosing family time over overtime, without jeopardizing success in their career.
In Canada, most working dads are home with their kids by 6 p.m., thanks to strict labor laws and even stronger labor unions. Where I am from, British Columbia, status doesn’t come from working the longest hours as it is here, but from working the least number of hours — and having more time for recreation, usually with family.
If the Japanese government wants to raise the birthrate, it should enforce labor laws restricting the time workers may spend at work. It will work like magic to increase the population. The side benefit of more free time translates into more consumer spending on vacations, recreation, sports, meals out and so on.
Will corporate productivity suffer? Not if employees can do their work rather than sit in on long tedious meetings that don’t directly concern them. But that’s another matter, isn’t it?
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