Work Family Balance of Japanese Men in the Era of Globalization: Do Their Attitudes and Practices Change By Working in EU Countries?
Mieko Takahashi, Setsuko Onode, Tomoko Matsuda and Kyoko Yoshizumi
Despite that work family balance (WFB) has been addressed as an important policy issue in Japan for over a decade, Japanese employees, especially those with children, appear to have more difficulty in reconciling work and family life compared to their counterparts in advanced European welfare states. In fact, there seems to be in Japan a wide agency and capabilities gap between policies and practices, and between entitlements and a sense of entitlement to make claims for WFB. From our empirical study of working parents in Japan, we have witnessed that barriers in workplace organization and the socially endorsed working time regimes have made it difficult for the vast majority of workers, especially men with small children, to exercise their rights for WFB (Takahashi et al. Forthcoming).
Based upon the above finding, we turn to Japanese employees working in EU countries where WFB is considered to have been better achieved. The main aim of this study is to explore whether these men’s perceptions and attitudes towards WFB have been transformed by living and working in a different country, viz. a context constituted by a different social system, work environment, organizational culture, and the like.
Face-to face interviews with Japanese men with children under 13 years old, mainly working for Japanese enterprises in Netherlands (13 persons), Germany (13 persons) and Sweden (10 persons) were held in August-September 2013. The preliminary analysis shows that the different social institutional settings seem to have enhanced their WFB; the majority of the interviewees report that they have more time to spend with their family and with themselves than they did in Japan.