Reforming work to support Japan’s new mothers and families

Many Japanese companies are encouraging women to take leadership roles and promoting flexible working hours. The goal is to modernise the workplace. “When women work full-time, this closes the disparity between a husband and wife in the time they spend in the home, and it makes it easier to have cooperative child rearing,” a non-profit group says.


Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan’s population crunch is getting worse, taking its toll on the country’s workforce, many companies are trying to cope with it by offering new mothers flexible working conditions to help maintain their work-family balance.

As companies try to find ways to upgrade their workplace practices, some are keen to allow employees to set their own hours, or work from home.

For many women, this is a welcome sign of greater sharing within couples that also reassures them that maternity leave will not negatively affect their career.

More and more companies have begun to actively promote a more supportive and understanding workplace to encourage women to rise into leadership roles.

One of the companies leading the way is Dai-ichi Life, an insurance company that holds seminars for women on maternity leave to help make the transition back to work.

At Food and chemical company Ajinomoto Co, more employees are switching to full-time after it reduced fixed daily work hours by 20 minutes, and permits employees to work from home up to four days per week, or from satellite offices.

Fathering Japan, a non-profit that supports men who are raising children, suggests that providing opportunities for women to work full-time after returning from maternity leave pays dividends for the entire family.

"When women work full-time, this closes the disparity between a husband and wife in the time they spend in the home, and it makes it easier to have cooperative child rearing. It also helps with maintaining the motivation for work and one's career," said its director Kaori Hayashida.

At a government level, the authorities have also been trying to get men to playing a greater role in raising children by offering parental leave.

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