Regarding the May 14 story “Paternity leave still not widely embraced in Japan: survey,” it is difficult to take paternity leave in Japan for a variety of reasons.
First, one is most likely to lose out on one's annual income and bonus by availing paternity leave.
Second, it would be cliched to say this but the work environment is a big factor, and taking paternity leave may be frowned upon in Japanese companies. Japan is, after all, a very masculine society. I have heard Japanese men boasting that they haven't seen their newborn child until after a week or two of its birth. Moreover, since most hospitals tell you the gender of the child well in advance, some Japanese men are likely not to take leave if it is a girl. Unfortunately, such prejudice exists even today.
Last but not least, the nature of one's job is also a big factor when it comes to taking paternity leave. Needless to say, paternity leave is mainly for permanent employees only and Japanese companies usually have many temporary staff.
There are bound to be many more reasons, so it is a very complicated situation. Unless the government takes drastic steps in making paternity leaves mandatory and specifies the minimum period of paternity leave, I don't think this situation is likely to change in the foreseeable future.
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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