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Inside the Japanese government’s campaign to make fatherhood sexy

Isabelle Niu
Member exclusive by Isabelle Niu in Tokyo

Many countries struggle with the housework gender gap, but Japan is an extreme case.  Japanese men spend the least time on chores and childcare among all the world’s wealthiest countries—just 41 minutes a day, compared to 3.7 hours each day put in by women.

And that’s bad for the economy. Japan’s workforce is shrinking and aging. To keep its economy growing, it needs more of its citizens to work, which means getting more women into the workplace. Nearly half of Japanese women quit their jobs after the birth of their first child. 

To get mothers back to work, Japan’s government has focused on encouraging men to more fully share household responsibilities. In 2010, it passed one of the most generous parental leave policies in the world at a time when 99% of men took no time off at all after their partners gave birth. And it started a campaign called the “ikumen” project.