ESRI Studies Series on Ageing
Edited by Toshiaki Tachibanaki
Chapter 10: The child-care leave system in Japan: development, problems and further reform
Akira Kawaguchi* 1. INTRODUCTION Harmonization of work and family has been attracting increasing attention in Japan. There are several reasons, one of which is the continuous decline in fertility. During the baby boom after the second world war, the total fertility rate exceeded 4. Since then, it has been declining and recorded a postwar low of 1.33 in 2001. The sharp decline will cause diﬃculty in funding social insurance, particularly old-age pensions. It is widely perceived that one of the most important factors that caused the decline in fertility is the diﬃculty for working women in rearing children. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare have implemented several policies which harmonize work and family. The enactment of the Child-care Leave Law is one of them. Another reason for the increased attention paid to work–family harmonization is the increasing demand by working women for work–family harmonization programs. Although the proportion of married women in the female labor force has increased, the majority of women who start a family resign from the workforce when they give birth, returning to the labor market when their children have grown up. Upon their return, however, most of them work part-time, partly because it is diﬃcult to ﬁnd full-time jobs after an absence from the labor market and partly because the working hours of full-time jobs are too long and too rigid for mothers. The lifetime income of women declines sharply due to this career break. A familyfriendly policy is necessary...
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