UNICEF: Few in Japan use world ‘best’ paternity leave system

Workers head for their office in front of Hakata station in Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture on May 7, 2019, after this year's Golden Week, 10 consecutive holidays straddled the Heisei era and the Reiwa era. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

NEW YORK (The Japan News/ANN) – The number of fathers who actually use childcare leave is very small in Japan according to a UNICEF report.

Though fathers in Japan are provided with the longest paid leave for childcare, the number of those who actually use it is very small, according to a UNICEF report.

UNICEF on Thursday released a report on “family-friendly policies” that include a paid-leave system for fathers in 41 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or of the European Union.

The UNICEF report said that Japan ranks highest in paid-leave systems for fathers, but “in practice, very few fathers take this leave.”

The report calculated the duration of parental leave for fathers at full-rate equivalent.

In Japan, the duration of leave allowed fathers at full-rate equivalent is 30.4 weeks, according to UNICEF. The duration is much longer than that of South Korea, which has the second longest at 17.2 weeks.

Regarding paid leave duration for mothers, Japan ranked 16th at 36 weeks.

The report gave a high mark to the Japanese system itself, but said, “Only 5.14 percent of eligible fathers took paid leave in 2017,” citing Japanese statistics that show that the country’s labor shortage and corporate culture create an atmosphere that makes it difficult for employees to take paid childcare leave.

By Makoto Murayama