Kyle Cody –
Taking time off to raise children used to be within the realm of women. As more fathers take the initiative to be active in their kids’ lives, time off for fathers is now becoming necessary. Europe leads in the policies of paternal leave, allowing up to a fully-paid year off in some countries. France allows 11 days plus six months of full to partial pay. The United States, meanwhile, has negligible amount of fathers take the leave due to the age-old custom of the mother taking care of the kids. Although some private businesses, like Facebook, offer time off for new fathers.
Recently, a Japanese parliamentary member of the Liberal Democratic Party, no less, wanted to take leave;however, his actions have caused him to forgo the leave. Kensuke Miyazaki had an extra-marital affair days before his wife, lawmaker and of the same party, gave birth to their son and after the uncovering of the affair, he resigned from parliament. Miyazaki had relations with a kimono fitter/model multiple days before his wife gave birth. He apologized to his supporters and wife in a public speech. Miyazaki wishes to continue his marriage despite the affair.
Before the affair, he had been construed as a symbol for the movement of active by trying to be more involved in the home. The paternal leave would have opened a dialogue about Japan’s rigid gender roles. In Japan, the leave for fathers is for one year, but only 2% of fathers take the leave. Miyazaki announced last year he would take paternal leave, a first for a parliamentary member. Many members of his party opposed his plan saying it was his duty to serve the government rather than spend time with his family. The Liberal Democratic Party, contrary to its name, is conservative in ideas. Miyazaki reasoned that fathers becoming more involved in the care for their children opened doors for women to be more involved in the workforce. He also thinks it is important for the child’s happiness for fathers to spend time with children.
Japan currently is struggle with a shrinking workforce, but by opening the workforce to women, they can introduce more workers to the markets. Japan has been changing its markets to adjust to the influx of elderly people. More people are going into nursing home care and developing products for the elderly. Japan also needs to allow more foreigners to work in Japan and hold higher positions within the country. Foreigners tend to be frowned upon by conservative leaders simply because they are foreign. The youth, especially of new and upcoming businesses, tend to be more open as they are including more women. The youth-led businesses may open doors for foreigners.
Both Japan and United States need to discuss allowing more men to take time off to raise children. Europe far excels us in this and in numerous other areas. As we live longer, we need to be more educated and have adequate health care to take care of us.
Kyle Cody, from Sullivan, Illinois, is a senior majoring in history and Japanese. Kyle has recently been abroad for a year in Japan and has since returned to writing for the Rambler.