Ranked 101st out of 135 countries in terms of gender equality in a recent report, Japan doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to equality between men and women.
However, as the tax burden of supporting a growing elderly population increases year by year, it’s becoming pretty hard to ignore that, at least for pragmatic reasons, the other half of the working-age tax-paying population needs to be given more opportunities.
One person who especially can’t afford to ignore this is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as he pointed out in a recent statement.
From Yahoo! News:
Prime Minister Abe To Support Female Workforce… Aims For “No Waiting Lists For Childcare”, “3-Year Childcare Leave”
Talking about how women in the workforce are a key part of the administration’s economic growth strategy, Prime Minister Abe stated on the April 19 that he will offer broad support to “abolishing waiting lists for childcare” and “extending childcare leave from 1 to 3 years”.
As many as 25,000 children are on waiting lists for day-care and it’s become a serious problem. Abe stated that he wanted to follow the same methods as Yokohama which has already managed to get rid of waiting lists for childcare. He indicated that he wanted to cut waiting times for daycare and see 20,000 children accepted in daycares in 2013/2014 and 40,000 accepted by 2017.
According to a survey, more women say that they “quit on their own accord to devote themselves to childcare and housework” than “it was hard to balance both [childcare] and work”. About 60% of women also said that they would like to take longer than the 1 year of recognized work leave for child or nursing care. A further 30% say they want to devote themselves entirely to raising their children until about the age of 3.
This is why Prime Minister Abe asked the 3 main Japanese economic federations [i.e. the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan Business Federation] to offer their support to the “3 year child-care leave” not because it’s the law but out of their own choice.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe said that “The experience of being able to focus on raising a child is also a precious experience in life”, and said that he would initiate new internship projects and trial employment for those who had been focusing on raising their children for long periods of time, and would support their re-employment in the workplace.
You can see Abe’s full speech on women in the work place from 32:00 onward in the video of his “Economic Growth Strategy Speech”.
Comments from Yahoo! News:
I think they should stop now the cost ‘cause the cost of 3 year of childcare would just be too high.
If you think of the labor costs of having someone go back to same job after 3 years, you obviously won’t hesitate to replace your workforce with new joiners in the meantime.
Getting rid of waiting lists for day care would probably be a good thing today.
But when parents work full time, the kids are all alone at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I personally just think “what?” when it looks like a kid is being brought up on frozen food and ready-meals.
The point is, you can make a living on just you husband’s income and aren’t families where the mom is not doing overtime and makes home cooked meals the best?
Within three years you could already be on to the next kid, couldn’t you? My sister in law is already at her 4th child. You need to think of the burden on the company!
You can see the sparkly hallow behind the Prime Minister…..
It’s just something I heard but apparently some famous company tried to implement a 3 year childcare leave policy a while back and it was a big failure.
Now they brushed up their system and it seems to be going well though.
The government isn’t doing much to help general industry (笑)
Some men also take childcare-leave. In the U.S. and Europe it seems like that is pretty common. I think that’s good.
Even if it’s hard to take large blocks of time off work, isn’t there some other way, like 3 day working-weeks, or work half-days or something like that?
Make an environment where it’s okay for men to go on childcare-leave.
If you have 3 years for each and you have 2 kids, that’s about 5 years of childcare leave isn’t it? That’s exactly like Urashima Tarō. [N.B. A Japanese folktale about a fisherman who disappears under the sea for 300 years then comes back to find that his village has completely changed.]
Do they also wanting to put in place a one child policy by backing 3 year [child-leave]? Companies shouldn’t bear the burden if women think about having another kid. This seems as if it would push female employment even further.
You can definitely see Seiko’s shadow fluttering behind the Prime Minister.
And what about policies to tackle low birth rates?
3 years? And if your second kid is born at the end of those 3 years, do you get another 3 years on top of that?
I’m entirely for supporting female employment. However, if you think about the actually contents, they are too superficial. I think that if we don’t properly re-examine things, there won’t be any results.
Rather than 3 year maternity leave, [the issue is] whether they can’t pick up their kids at day-care of school if those are offered for 19 hours at most.
What used to be a very determined movement for husbands to also be allowed to go on child-care leave has now become hazy. If they try to get rid of waiting times for day care, this will only raise the price of nursery schools and will fail to target the real problem.
Women’s employment rates will decrease.
It won’t make a difference whether they are actually able to do it or not. It’s pleasant because it’s the type of thing they say to look good in front of the House of Councilors.
I think they should just give up and let the birth-rates fall, then there will naturally be no waiting time as the number of school-age kids falls.