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Chiu-Lan Chang

Taiwan and Japan have traditionally followed Confucian ideology, which may pose contrasting expectations of women, and this still persists. Women’s participation in the two countries has been increasing, due to higher educational qualifications and their entry into the labor market, thus contributing to the growth of the economy in past decades. Even during their childrearing years, more women tend to continue to work and they do not expect to break their career. But based on Confucian ideology, gendered workplace cultures define ideal workers as diligent, hard working and loyal, which may conflict with the norms of the ‘ideal mother’ as totally devoted to family. Thus, working mothers who wish to balance work and family have been perceived of as struggling for a career in a male-dominated world of work and sacrificing her role of family carer at the same time. Additionally, work–life balance policy (WLBP) is traditionally seen as a women’s issue, making it easier for married women to ask for their legal right to take leave for childcare with or without premiums. Likewise, work–life balance (WLB) seems to be synonymous with gender issues in Taiwan and Japan, but there is a difference between the development of work–life theory policies and practices. The purpose of this study is to compare and contrast Taiwan’s and Japan’s perspectives on work–life balance policies and practices. The study is based on (1) a literature review; (2) WLB policies and practices in both Taiwan and Japan; (3) secondary data on childcare leave in the two countries.