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The law also pressures workplaces to make child care leave policies transparent to soon-to-be parents.

Japan’s already declining birth rate took an even harder hit in 2020. It’s an expensive country in which to raise a child, and with the added financial complications caused by the coronavirus, more and more couples are opting out of having children than ever before.

One additional hurdle for new parents is that despite being available, it is extremely uncommon for men in Japan to take paternity leave. Data has shown that only a tiny percentage of them do, and one of our Japanese-language reporters previously shared his thoughts on why taking paternity leave is still not socially acceptable. To make it easier for fathers to exercise their leave allowances, on June 3 the House of Representatives (the lower house of the National Diet of Japan) approved by a majority vote special revisions to the Child Care and Family Care Leave Law. Under this new system, fathers will be able to take a maximum of four weeks of paternity leave within eight weeks after the birth of their child, thus offering more flexibility for families navigating the challenges of adding a new member to their household.

▼ Taking care of a newborn is a cinch…right?

Furthermore, the revised law also aims to lower the barriers for requesting parental leave in the workplace. Employers will be required to ask soon-to-parents, both men and women, whether they intend to take time off, thereby making leave policies more transparent and easier to broach the subject.

The revised law provisions are intended be enacted in fall 2022. Proponents hope that these changes will be the next small step towards also closing …continue reading