Tokyo dads lag Asian peers in family life: survey

Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:47pm EDT
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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Tokyo fathers spend less time playing with their children and pitching in with the housework than dads in other big Asian cities due to working such long hours, according to a Japanese survey.

Among Tokyo dads, only 37 percent spend at least two hours a day with their children on weekdays compared with 50 percent for fathers in Seoul and about three-quarters of Beijing and Shanghai dads, the survey by education services provider Benesse showed.

It also showed that fathers in Tokyo come home from work much later than their Asian counterparts, with about 40 percent getting in the door after 9 p.m. versus 29 percent in Seoul and a low 3 percent in the Chinese cities.

Japanese society has traditionally put much emphasis on hard work but many say the corporate culture of long days at the office is a factor contributing to the country's low birthrate.

Japan's population declined last year for the second straight year and is set to shrink by a third in 50 years if current trends continue.

"Japan needs a social structure that makes it easier for fathers to return home from work a little earlier and to participate in raising their children and doing housework," Noboru Kobayashi, head of Benesse's research arm, said in a report on the survey.

Around 45 percent of fathers in Tokyo said they almost never do any housework while only 4.4 percent help clean the house daily, the survey showed.

In Beijing and Shanghai, around 20 percent said they do housework nearly every day.

On the flip side, Tokyo fathers are making up for their weekday absences during the weekends, when 52 percent spend at least 10 hours a day with their kids versus 48 percent for Seoul and 34 and 31 percent for Beijing and Shanghai, respectively.

Benesse conducted the online survey in Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai in March and in Tokyo last August. It tallied the results based on responses from about 6,250 fathers with children aged 5 and under.

(Writing by Chris Gallagher, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)