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World of HR: More fathers are taking paternity leave in Japan

The country is encouraging paternity leave in an effort to increase the birth rate.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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The Japanese government issued guidance in 2022 to encourage fathers to take paternity leave, and new reports indicate it may be working.

Where in the world? Japan already had a generous parental leave policy for fathers, who can take up to 52 weeks off at 61% of their pay, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and as of last year, they can also “take up to four weeks of childcare leave within eight weeks after the birth of their child” at up to full pay, according to the World Economic Forum. UNICEF ranked Japan as number one in the world for length of leave as of 2018.

Additionally, employers with more than 1,000 workers are now required to share the number of employees using paternity leave, the Japan News reported. The government hopes that requiring corporations to report such data will inspire small and mid-size businesses to encourage their male employees to take leave after the birth of a child.

The new guidelines appear to be having an impact. In 2023, 24.4% of dads reported taking paternity leave, up from 9.6% in 2019, according to Bloomberg.

“Employees have started to feel the change in society and corporate attitudes and have begun to feel that it’s ok to take paternity leave,” Akiko Matsumoto, assistant manager in the diversity and inclusion division at Hitachi, told Bloomberg.

Expanding paternity leave is one of the steps Japan is taking in an attempt to reverse its declining birth rate, the Japan Times reported. The country’s prime minister Fumio Kishida wants 85% of new fathers to take paternity leave by 2030.

“As the first step in making double-income and coparenting—which remains less frequent in Japan compared with the global standard—the norm, we must achieve a society where it is widely accepted for men to also take child care leave,” Ayuko Kato, minister of Japan’s children and families agency, told the Times.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.