Reconciling Work and Family: Do Japanese Fathers Take Advantage of Policies?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Tomoko MATSUDA , Bukkyo University, Japan
Mieko TAKAHASHI , Graduate School of Language and Culture, Osaka University, Minoo-shi, Osaka, Japan
Setsuko ONODE , Kyoto Kacho University, Japan
Kyoko YOSHIZUMI , Otemon Gakuin University, Japan
Japanese working parents today are entitled to various work-family-balance support measures such as parental leave, nursing leave for children, and shorter working hours.  However, studies reveal that most working fathers in Japan fail to utilize such policies. 

The primary purpose of this paper is to further explore the reasoning for Japanese fathers to reject or abstain from using the aforementioned workplace support measures.  Furthermore, some critical factors including workplace culture, and the values and beliefs of Japanese fathers must be analyzed, in order to understand their reasoning for justifying their practices.

This study is part of a collaborative research project of work-life-balance led by B. Hobson and others in the European Union.  The data was collected from face-to-face interviews, which were conducted in the Kansai area between April and November in 2010.  There was a total 104 respondents, which included 51 women and 53 men.  All of the respondents were dual-working parents with preschool aged children.

The results of this study showed a number of ways in which the fathers discussed their work-family-balance related practices.  Among the 53 Japanese fathers, an estimated 40% of fathers worked more than 50 hours per week and a majority of them worked longer hours by “their own choice”.  Moreover, in most cases, fathers were afraid of burdening their workplace by altering their work plans, due to family needs.  Some fathers also had fears of damaging their career by actively utilizing paid leave and child care policies.  However, there were some fathers who chose to prioritize family over work.  Reasons for this include: wives being distressed or child care needs.  These fathers appeared to have more bargaining strength or the ability to overcome workplace critics.