It is also unlikely that a hike in child-care leave benefits alone will be sufficient to increase the amount of child-care leave taken by men.
An opinion survey taken by the ministry found that men most often cited “workplace atmosphere” as a reason for not taking child-care leave.
If more working men were to take child-care leave, even for a very short period, it would give mental support to working women. We think it important for businesses to understand this well and to start creating environments in which men feel it is easier to take their child-care leave.
At leading consumer products maker Kao Corp., winner of the grand prize of the “Ikumen Company Award 2013,” the rate of men taking child-rearing leave has been hovering in the 35-40 percent range in recent years. (”Ikumen” is a recently coined word for fathers who actively take part in raising children.)
The company has established a system of giving its male employees fully paid child-care leave for up to five days. It encourages them to take the leave more actively by holding seminars. Although the average period of child-care leave taken by male employees is only 11 days, the company said its employees’ attitudes have been changing.
Since earlier this year, the Tokyo Stock Exchange has selected listed companies that excel at utilizing women, calling these companies “Nadeshiko issues” and recommending their stock to potential investors. The rate of male workers taking child-care leave is one yardstick for the TSE’s selection.
Hiroshima Prefecture Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki provided another positive example with his announcement that he was taking child-care leave himself, apparently pushing up the rate of men taking such leave at companies in the prefecture to 7 percent.
Measures to deal with the low birth rate are a matter of urgency.
Both the public and private sectors need to consider ways to broadly support child-rearing, including the child-care leave taken by men.