Why do many fathers hesitate to take child-care leave in Japan?

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Pick of the week from Japan, 18 – 22 September

21 Sep. Imagination of negative perception of others against child-care leave blocks men from taking it

“I am positive to men’s child-care leave but others must not be” — it was found that such perception is a major factor that make men refrain from taking the child-care leave. A group of researchers of University of Kyusyu published the result in an electronic version of “Frontiers in Psychology”, an international scientific journal.

Professor Hiroyuki Yamaguchi and a doctral student, Takeshi Miyajima, who undertook the research concluded, “Men have a strong perception that other men have negavive views on child-care leave. Such an incorrect perception prohibits men from taking the leave”.

“What others think of me is more important than what I think” — such a way of thinking appears to govern the Japanese to decide his/her action. This especially is the case when they take action where little preceding cases are found, such as men’s child-care leave.

It was a nice culture shock for me to learn that I had to take my own decision independent from what others were doing, when I started living in Canada as a graduate student. Before that, I was taught by the society that my priority should be what a group I belonged to wished  me to do, not my own decision. The article cited above signals that such culture still strongly prevails in the country.

Who will benefit from the child-care leave if those men who need it do not take it? For how long will men carry on working till late in the evening everyday, instead of taking time to perform fathers’ tasks with children at home?

Fathers may just be scared by their own perception of men’s child-care leave, not others’.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Robots supporting the elders being tested

 

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Pick of the week from Japan, 11 – 15 September

11 Sep. Field experiment of robots supporting the elder

The day may be coming close when robots support a comfortable living with security of the elders. Fujita Health University (Toyoake-shi, Aichi-ken) has just opened a filed laboratory of a small robots for the life support. It is planned to improve the robots integrating the voice of the elder who will have used the experimental ones.

The rapid aging of the Japanese population is known to the world but not known so well that a quarter of the household is inhabited only those who are over 65 years old, of which a half is a single household. Hence robots are expected to support millions of the elders living alone.

Japan has much to contribute to the world. Drawn upon its manufacturing capacity based on craftsmanship coupled with the aging of the population fastest in the world, a robot supporting the elders’ lives is an excellent example.

The aging is a fact of life for everyone. I hope that Japan will find a brand new area of its competitiveness using the country’s resources, including the elders, who have not been valued in society.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Pick of the week from Japan, 4 – 8 September

5 Sep. Falling short of night entertainments in Japan? A number of shows being offered to overseas visitors

An increasing number of night entertainment is being offered in Japan in response to demand of overseas visitors who miss enjoyable night life, amid saturating volume of expense by the visitors. A variety of ideas are being put in place, organising drama that integrate traditional arts, or those with simultaneous interpretation. The Government starts pushing forward the creation of tourist attractions, too.

I see it as an import of international habits in Japan. Habit of international visitors motivated Japanese entertainment industries to create variety of night entertainments.

Films, concerts, theaters and other various night entertainment exist and form an industry of substantial volume in Japan. A major problem for international visitors is that almost all are available in Japanese language only and not taken into account the international audience. Although there are some traditional arts that provide comments and interpretation in English, such as Kabuki performances, these are rather exceptions.

The entertainment industry involves various professions and services, such as music, literature, theater management, etc. These will have to be performed taking into account international customers. This will be a substantial change for a homogeneous country such as Japan. The internationalisation of the entertainment business will inevitably spill over to a large number of various services involved in the business. Such kind of grass roots demand for the development of international orientation in domestic business may eventually make the Japanese more outward-looking than now.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Contest of cars with anime characters painted all over

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Pick of the week from Japan, 21 – 25 August

21 Aug. Brilliant photographs! 200 of Itahsa contest in the Shimizu Port with the Mount Fuji and the ocean in background

SISFES (Shimizu Itasha Seaside Fes), a festival of cars decorated by characters of animations and Manga, called “Itasha“, was held in Shimizu Marine Park and its surrounding areas (Shimizu-shi, Shizuoka.ken) on 20th August. Approximately 170 cars, and approximately 30 motorcycle got together from in and outside the prefecture including metropolitan Tokyo area and the Western regions of Japan.

Enourmous nergy of manga and anime lovers contributes to the regional economy.

A number of events of Itasha are held all over Japan every year, in cities and rural areas, even such remote spot as a water dam site. What an energy of those who are enthusiast of cars heavily decorated by anime characters!

What’s behind of these flourishing Itasha festivals is the need for great events that will provide business for local shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.

 

 

痛車

 

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Are women member of the Diet abandoning their duties if they are pregnant?

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Pick of the week from Japan, 14 – 18 August

15 Aug. Takako Suzuki, a member of the Diet, “I cannot consent” to be accused of duties abandonment, because of pregnancy

A female Diet member who reports the pregnancy is often criticised as the duties abandonment in Japan. Against background that the country has a very small number of women involved in political decision-making process,  some advocate need for maternity and parental leave for the members of the Diet to facilitate women to join in the policy debates.

The ratio of the Congresswoman of the Japanese House of Representatives is 9.3%, and it is the 164th of the world, according to a survey of the Lower House undertaken by an international organization “Inter-Parliamentary Union” announced in July.

It is surprising that there is no official rule of maternity or child-care leave for members of the Diet or assemblies of the local governments in Japan.

It is even amazing that it is not unusual to see some people criticize those women members of the Diet who are pregnant, because “they are abandoning the duties”,

Why do women still have to be criticised because of pregnancy in the country where the gender equality is established in the Constitution?

Good news at least is that women members of the Diet started fighting against those criticism, as Ms Suzuki does. It is a sad reality of Japanese society but one must admit that women must stand up and raise their voices against unreasonable criticisms that block their professional development, even in the 21st century.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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JR East is acquiring operation rights of a British railway company

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Pick of the week from Japan, 7 – 11 August

11 Aug. JR East to strengthen its overseas business, acquiring operation rights of a British railway company

JR East (a major railway company in Japan) announced that the company had acquired the operation rights of a railroad network of approximately 900 kilos of the central part of the U.K. owned byWest Midlands in cooperation with Abellio, a railway company of the Netherlands and  Mitsui & Co., Ltd., a major Japanese trading company. JR East will be responsible for train operation management and organisation of a railroad diagram for approximately ten years from this December. It is naive that JR East participates in the operation of the railroad service abroad.

JR East has been a part of the state-owned railway company for decades., even since its privatisation and divestiture in 1987.

Now the time for a big change is arriving. Japanese specialists of railway operations will be working for a UK domestic railway company. From one domestic business to another– what a leap it is. This is a fundamental change for the staff transferred to the UK. While there are ample professional skill sets for JR East to bring and apply to operate the British company, the way of doing would be largely different between the two companies.

Exposure to other cultures is the last thing which a domestic giant, such as an ex-monopoly national railway company, would experience.

Globalization is reaching little by little but steadily to the most unexpected companies snd their people in Japan. A number of such events, large and small, will drive the Japanese population to look outside the country as their partners and neighbors.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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No working mother in picture books for children?

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Pick of the week from Japan, 31 July – 4 August

3 Aug. No working mother in picture books for children? Barriers blocking telling stories of various families

I am a journalist of 35 years old with a daughter of two years old. My wife who also has a full time job alerted me recently that little picture books tell stories of a family where both parents work. 

The number of double income household has surpassed the number of single income one since decades. This fact however is not reflected in children’s picture books in Japan.

The journalist in the article interviewed authors and publishers of children’s books and found a still conservative attitude of the publishers. One publisher said, “We can’t go into detail of a model of a family as one family model will make people with other types of family feel “it’s not for me”.

Is it the only reason?

Why publishers are so much afraid of including working mothers in children’s books, despite the fact that population of mothers who are housewives are less than those who have a job?

I see here a strong Japanese attitude of being afraid of the change. Any change will create unexpected consequences in expected and unexpected ways. This is what the Japanese almost automatically try to avoid.

It’s not data that convinces the Japanese, but the perception. Thus publishers stick to an outdated model of a family as it is safer than taking consequences of a change.

Such an attitude support stability of the Japanese society. This however is a double-edge sward. For the same reason, Japan is keeping a half of its population in a stereo-typed image.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper

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