On paper, Japan’s paternity leave sounds really, really great. The OECD even ranks Japan as an exemplary country thanks to what looks like one of the most progressive parental laws among the developed nations.
Broadly speaking, employees that have worked for the same company for at least a year are entitled to take up to one year of childcare paid leave. Yes, one full year. To keep the numbers simple, just know that for the first six months, the government will pay two-thirds of the employee’s monthly base salary, and half for the remaining six months. Not bad at all.
The real story
Sadly, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in 2018, only 6.16 percent of fathers actually dare to take paternity leave.
When they do, the average duration is 10 days.
This is actually not surprising at all given that Japan still considers men as the main provider for their family while practically tossing women out of their jobs as soon as they become mothers. It’s a sad reality embodied by the colloquial expression マタハラ (“mata-hara“) the short version of マタニティハラスメント, a combo of maternity and harassment, that surfaced in 2014.
The bad news is that now you can add パタハラ (“pata-hara“), short for パタニティハラスメント, paternity harassment, to the list of hot topics currently debated in Japan.
Just got a kid and built a new house? Congrats! We’re transferring you far, far away!
Yup. That’s a typical sneaky move from old-school Japanese “black” companies. When their male employees get a kid or buy a house, the higher-ups strategically transfer them out to another office. It’s a twisted way to show who’s boss, counting on the employee feeling stuck with all the costs associated with childcare. Because who would leave their jobs when they have a mortgage and family to take care of?
Well, enough was enough for this mother who rage-tweeted about what happened when her husband went back to work after taking four weeks of paternity leave.
— パピ_育休5月復帰 (@papico2016) June 1, 2019
My husband was working for a Japanese company listed on the “First Section” of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (=supposedly a company providing a good working environment). Two days after coming back from paternity leave, he received an order to be transferred to the Kansai area.
I had only 2 weeks left of maternity leave, my newborn baby and my 2-year-old kid had just been accepted and transferred to nursery school, and we also just moved into our new home 10 days ago. He sought advice but couldn’t obtain paid leave. Finally, he resigned and is now a stay-at-home father.
Although I gave birth 4 months ago, I’m now the sole provider for my family.
Creating a butterfly effect, @papico2016’s tweet quickly turned into a storm of internet backlash against her husband’s company whose name, Kaneka Corporation, got out as online users dug up the information.
In what was a poor attempt to divert the angry reactions, the company took down their website’s paternity leave “About” page. But as the viral spiral continued — and their market share began to fall — the page was turned back on.
To add fuel to the fire, not only was he cornered into resigning from his job, but her husband was also harassed by his superiors into not taking his (deserved) remaining 20 days of paid holidays. He asked his boss the permission to work until the end of June, in order to leave his projects in order but was bluntly told that if he wanted to leave, it was now or never. A sly way to prevent him from getting the company yearly bonus.
We had just moved in!
Here’s an easy – but always good to know – expression to say something has just finished/occurred.
Verb past casual tense + ばかり
- 新居に引越したばかりです！= We just moved into our new house!
- 勉強したばかりですが、忘れました・・・= I just studied this but I forgot…
Don’t get mixed up with verb + te form + ばかり which then means “only/always do something/the same thing”.
- 子供がスマホゲームで遊んでばかりで勉強しない。= Kids are constantly playing games on their smartphone instead of studying.
Finally, remember that when coupled with a noun, ばかり means “only” or “just”.
- 文句ばかり言うな！= Quit complaining!
|一部上場企業||ichibu joujou kigyou||First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange|
|関西||kansai||Kansai (region in Japan)|
||tenkin||be transferred/relocated (for work)|
|復職||fukushoku||come back (to work)|
|X 週間||X shuukan||X week(s)|
|X 歳||X sai||X year-old|
|転園||tenen||transfer (to nursery)|
|入園||nyuuen||admission (to nursery)|
|引越する||hikkoshi suru||move in|
||kakeau||to bargain, negotiate|
|結局||kekkyoku||finally, in the end|
|今日から||kyou kara||from today|
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