Over the summer, the NYC Dads Group partnered on a media segment with NHK, the Japanese equivalent of the BBC, to display how our community of dads engages with our kids & bonds with each other. NHK’s goal was to display involved fatherhood in the U.S. for parents in Japan to see us as role models. We were informed by the producers that Japan was way behind on work-life balance, involved fatherhood, and paternity leave. At the time, Matt S. stated, “sometimes we look for the gold ring of paternal involvement in Scandinavia & don’t realize that the U.S. is much farther ahead than other countries like Brazil and Japan.”
Fast forward to early October, when our dads group were joined by a Japanese journalist working on another story regarding the positive display of involved fatherhood in the U.S. The picture that was painted of Japanese fathers was that the cultural norm was for moms to be responsible for the bulk of childcare. Well, it looks like things could soon be shifting in Japan….
The Wall Street Journal’s, Japan’s Next Big Thing: Stay-at-Home Dads? by Yoree Koh, focuses on a governor from Hiroshima who is a pioneer in the fatherhood movement.
Japanese papas feeling the tug between work and life may have a new pioneer in the paternal movement in Hidehiko Yuzaki, the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture. The 45-year-old governor said Tuesday he plans to take paternity leave later this month when his third child is born, in a move believed to be the first among prefectural governors and a break still well short of being a cultural norm in Japan…Mr. Yuzaki plans to leave the office to help take care of his two older children –- a 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter –- and lend a hand with household chores for about a month. Japanese news service Kyodo reports that the soon to be father of three, who was elected governor in November 2009, wants to advocate the importance of fathers taking part in child-care, reflecting the sparse number of male employees who take paternity leave.
The paternal announcement by the governor came on the heels of a local Japanese mayor taking a two week paternity leave a few months ago. The forward trajectory in Japan sounds promising. “There is a growing trend among both men and women in the younger generation who are more inclined to lead not a work-life balance but a life-work balance.”