Young Japanese Politician Sets Out to Bust a Taboo

Cabinet minister Shinjiro Koizumi is taking paternity leave, a rare thing in his country
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2020 11:34 AM CST

(Newser) – A politician announcing that he's taking paternity leave typically doesn't make international headlines. But the circumstances of this one are indeed unusual: The politician is Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, 38, and the reason it's making news is because so few men take paternity leave in Japan. In fact, Koizumi is the first Cabinet minister in Japan to do so, and the third youngest Cabinet minister in Japan's history says he hopes to help shift public thinking about the idea. Coverage:

  • His leave: Koizumi's first child is due later this month, and he said Wednesday that he intends to take a total of two weeks off, reports the Guardian. Even so, he said he would make exceptions for "important public duties" and would spread the time over three months.
  • The irony: Japan has one of the world's most generous paternity leave policies, allowing fathers to take up to a year off. However, few actually take advantage—an estimated 6%, reports Bloomberg. The very idea of such leave is considered taboo: In Japan, such criticism is referred to as "pata-hara," or paternity harassment, per NPR.

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