Fathers’ Work and Housework in Japan: Focusing on Deadline Pressure

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Shingou IKEDA, Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, Japan
It is well known that Japan is one of the most conservative societies regarding gender roles. In fact, Japanese fathers of small children spend less time doing housework compared to fathers in both Europe and the United States. Although Japanese studies on this issue found the most determinative factor to be long working hours, we must also be mindful of the quality of those working hours, considering the high value placed upon hard-work in the Japanese culture. Although the diligence of Japanese male workers has been well-known for decades, current workers admit to feeling more pressure, due to hectic work schedules with many tight deadlines, under competitions rating short-term outcomes.

According to our original data analysis, about one-half of full-time male employees with children under 6 years of age feel that they do not have enough time to spend with their children due to the tight deadlines of work. This “deadline pressure” has a significantly negative impact on their participation in housework on their work days, even if the length of their working hours is limited. It is also remarkable that full-time male employees who do not select their task to undertake tend to feel this deadline pressure; approximately 90% of respondents do assume responsibility for any work asked of them. This mindset is often called “stability of labor supply,” which means workers are expected to always accept work from their supervisors or customers; this attitude is highly prized and quite common in Japan.

Although this hard-working cultural attitude might seem unique to Japan, there must be similar pressures in other countries in which the benefits of intensified economic competitions to pursue short-term are increasing.