Shinjiro Koizumi, 38, Japan’s Environment Minister and son of former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi recently announced that he is taking a two weeks paternity leave and his countrymen are surprised by that move.
Koizumi is the first Minister to commit to such leave. Japan is a conservative country where people do not value a life-work balance.
In other parts of the world taking a two weeks paternity leave, you would be considered ‘pathetic’.
However, the laws of the country are very generous when it comes to paternity leaves. Both men and women are allowed one year of unpaid leave immediately after having each child but they get government benefits. Despite these generous provisions in Japanese law, only 6% of Japanese workers took their paternity leaves in 2018.
This is a government effort to revert the low birth rates in Japan. In fact, it is reported that Japan had the lowest birth rate in 2019 since the country started keeping records in 1899.
It’s expected that Koizumi’s decision will set precedent and more Japanese men and women especially in politics will take leave from work more frequently.