Last year Japan´s Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi caused a sensation with the announcement of a two-week paternity leave. He is the first Japanese cabinet minister to take childcare leave, after the birth of his son. The then 38-year-old explained that he hopes his decision would encourage other new fathers to follow his example and also take paternity leave.

Despite having one of the most generous allowance in the world, new fathers rarely take paternity leave in Japan. That is why late last year, the Japanese Government proposed a revision of the Child Care Leave laws to encourage men to take paternity leave. The Government, which has been struggling with the country’s declining birth rate has stated that they want to increase the overall ratio of men taking paternity leave from 7% to 30% by 2025. They believe that that by promoting paternity leave right after childbirth  will help reduce the number of mothers suffering from postnatal depression.

Paid childcare leave available to fathers

Source: 2019 UNICEF report on family-friendly policies

The proposed new law would:

  • allow men to take up to 4 weeks paternity leave in the first 8 weeks of childbirth,

  • require large companies to publish the rate of workers taking paternity leave

  • entitle part time workers to apply for paternity leave 

The general consensus is that these proposed changes will not result in drastic increases of paternity leave applications simply because the new fathers feel that their careers and reputations would suffer within their companies if they were to apply and take time out to look after their wife and new child. There is also the feeling that they would be letting their colleagues down by putting more workload on them whilst they take leave. 

In many cases, their wives are also concerned for their partner’s careers as it is widely acknowledged that men still tend to earn more than their female equivalents at work and that for the family’s long term financial future, it would be better for the man not to jeopardize his career.

Having said that, one can but hope that following the enforced change to ‘work from home’ that has been forced upon companies in Japan during the pandemic especially in the major cities like Tokyo and Osaka that fathers and their companies will be more flexible and that paternity leave numbers will increase.

About the Authors

Simon Wallington
Simon WallingtonManaging Director
Insurance Group, Cornes & Co. LTD,


Fukiko Nakagawa
Fukiko Nakagawa Account Manager
Insurance Group, Cornes & Co. LTD,