With the average age of Cabinet ministers in Japan being well over 60, their family birth announcements usually usher in a grandchild's arrival. The birth of the first baby for Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi last week, therefore, should have been a rare and celebratory occasion for all. Instead, the announcement was met with mixed reactions.

The youngest minister in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has decided to take paternity leave for two weeks, an unprecedented move in traditional Japanese politics. While some commended his decision, hoping his action will encourage more men to emulate his actions, others criticized him for being irresponsible and called his announcement a publicity stunt.

Also last week, Maasa Takahashi, a celebrity news reporter, announced her first pregnancy. She said she was hoping to return to work following a month of maternity leave after she gives birth. Much to her surprise, she was bombarded with reproving comments from many, who criticized her for being naive about her responsibilities as a new mother and claimed that she should actually take a much longer leave. Responding to the unfavorable public reaction, Takahashi apologized for her "careless comment" about maternity leave.