Regarding the May 21 Bloomberg article “Foreign domestics seen as aiding working mothers“: I have to say that the solution to keeping women in the workplace and to increasing family size lies not with either increasing the number of domestic helpers (which would benefit only those women who could afford such help) or raising taxes on part-timers (which would punish those unable to find decent full-time work).

The harsh reality is that a Japanese woman who wants to return to full-time work faces the prospect of possibly working 50 to 60 hours a week due to unpaid overtime. She is also aware that her husband will be working as much or more and thus have little time to contribute to household chores or to child care. Women who take care of kids tend to refuse to return to the workforce when their only option is “full time.”

The real solution, in my opinion, is for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to crack down, and crack down hard, on the Japanese tradition of unpaid overtime. He should not just pass a law that will not be enforced — as is so often the case.

Men have a right to paternity leave in Japan, but you would never know it as so few ever actually use it for fear their employer will disapprove. The government should publicly shame and heavily fine companies [that discourage paternityleave] and maybe even arrest the owners.

The stakes are very high as the future of Japan depends on avoiding a precipitous population decline.

michael liska

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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