Japan urges more dads to swap desks for diapers
By Benjamin Shatil
TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Hiroyuki Ogino stayed home from his job in telecoms to take care of his son for a month this spring -- one of a tiny but growing number of Japanese men opting for paternity leave despite the risk to their careers.
"It really is as if we are putting a minus against our names, causing problems for our colleagues by not being around to pull our weight," said Ogino, a 38-year-old father of two.
"In spite of it all, I'm glad I did it."
With only 1 percent of the country's eligible male workers taking time out, dads like Ogino are hard to come by in Japan.
Japan's fathers spend less time on child care and housework than their counterparts in any other developed country.
But thanks to a new set of government initiatives that encourage working dads to take time off -- part of a broader effort to boost Japan's rock-bottom birthrate -- the number of fathers who swap their desks for diapers may be about to rise.
Under the revised Child-care and Family-care Leave Law, which takes effect on Wednesday, fathers will be allowed to take more time off to look after their children.
Employers will also be obliged to allow a shorter six-hour working day to staff with children under three years old and in some cases, fathers will be exempt from working overtime. Continued...