Japan’s environment minister has been praised for announcing his decision to take paternity leave, making him the first cabinet minister to do so in the country.
Shinjiro Koizumi, who is expecting his first child with wife Christel Takigawa, revealed in a staff meeting earlier this week that he will take two weeks off following the birth later this month.
The 38-year-old explained that he hoped his decision would encourage other new fathers to follow his example and also take paternity leave.
Despite Japan having one of the most generous paternity leave allowances in the world, with fathers entitled to take a year off work, many don’t exercise their rights due to work pressures and financial concerns.
According to health ministry data released last year, just one in 15 men took paternity leave in Japan in 2018.
Hence why Mr Koizumi’s decision is all the more significant, despite the fact that he will only take two weeks off instead of the allocated 12 months.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Koizumi said: “I intend to take a total of two weeks of paternity leave in the three months after childbirth, during which the mother bears the heaviest burden, on the condition that I prioritise my official duties and thorough crisis management, as I have done.
“I hope my taking paternity leave will lead the way of working styles to one where everyone can easily take child-care leave without hesitation in the environment ministry.”
The environment minister added that he will not miss “important public duties” during his leave period and will split the two weeks leave over a period of three months, Japan Times reports.
News that Koizumi will be taking his paternity leave has sparked positive feedback on social media, with many users praising his decision as progressive.
“Every father should have time dedicated to loving and caring for their child,” tweeted one person while another pointed to the significance given that “very few people take childcare leave in Japan”.