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Japan considering making promotion of paternity leave mandatory for companies - Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is considering making it mandatory for companies to recommend employees take paternity leave, the Nikkei said on Thursday, as the government looks to boost the birthrate by making it easier for families to balance work and child-rearing.

Although Japan has one of the most generous parental leave policies in the world, just 7% of eligible fathers take childcare leave, according to government data, far short of a national target of 30% by 2025.

Under the plan, companies would be obliged to inform their employees that men can take paternity leave if they wish to, the Nikkei said. Managers would confirm in person whether employees want to, it said.

The changes will be included in a bill to change the current law on childcare, which is set to be debated in parliament next year.

Companies are already obliged to let employees take leave if they wish to do so, but the new proposal would put a larger duty on the company to encourage workers to take time off, the Nikkei said.

A labour ministry official told Reuters that there were ongoing discussions on how to raise the number of fathers who take paternity leave, without elaborating further.

The government is trying to end the stigma around men taking paternity leave. In January Shinjiro Koizumi, the environment minister, made headlines when he said he would take two weeks of leave over three months.

Looking to boost the low birthrate in a country with one of the world’s most elderly populations, new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has already pushed to make infertility treatments covered under health insurance.

Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by David Dolan and Toby Chopra

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