Japan's Itochu Corporation announced that it will force male employees to take at least 5 days of parental leave to encourage men to participate in childcare responsibilities.

ITOCHU Corporation announced that it will make childcare leave mandatory for male employees from April.

This system applies to all male employees whose spouse has given birth, regardless of position or age, and must take at least five days of leave within one year of giving birth. These five days are paid leave, and those beyond these five days will receive a government parental leave benefit subsidy at the time of the child's birth.

Since the introduction of the Gender Equality Care Policy in 2022, the average number of days that male ITOCHU employees can take paid parental leave has increased significantly, reaching 36 days in FY2022. But only about half (52%) applied.

As a result, ITOCHU Corporation will make it mandatory for employees with a newborn child to take at least five days of paid parental leave within one year of birth starting in FY2024. ITOCHU said that this will promote diversity in the workplace and encourage men and women to share the responsibility of childcare.

The number of newborns in Japan will hit a record low in 2023, falling by about 5%, and gender inequality in the workplace and domestic work is one of the main reasons. In addition to mandatory parental leave for men, ITOCHU Corporation, Japan's largest conglomerate, has also promoted a series of workplace diversity measures and new goals.

By 2030, ITOCHU expects to increase the proportion of women in all senior executives, including CEOs, to more than 30%. In April, ITOCHU Corporation appointed five female executives, bringing the total to 21 percent, and the proportion is still increasing.

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The company subsidizes medical services such as egg freezing and childbirth to support childcare

According to Yahoo News, ITOCHU Corporation also subsidizes the cost of infertility treatment and egg freezing. Also starting from April this year, if the spouse of an employee who is stationed overseas needs to freeze his or her eggs, the company will pay for it in full. If your spouse accompanies you to work overseas, the company will also subsidize the cost of infertility treatment overseas.

In addition, since February of this year, ITOCHU Corporation has launched a 24-hour expert consultation hotline where employees can consult with each other on childcare and health issues free of charge. ITOCHU has contracted contracts with more than 110 medical institutions in Japan to provide medical care support to its employees.

However, such preferential policies often only exist in very large enterprises.

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Japan will require companies with more than 100 employees to set parental leave targets for men

The Japanese government has also seen the gap between giant enterprises and ordinary small and medium-sized enterprises in the implementation of the current DEI policy. Studies have shown that male parenting can promote fertility, and the government is expected to begin setting policies to encourage companies to create a system of father-to-child co-parenting.

As a result, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will require companies with more than 100 employees to set and publish targets for the percentage of men taking parental leave. As a result, there will be 50,000 companies in Japan that will need to design specific targets and policies for men's parental leave claims.

Mandatory parental leave has symbolic implications and can also provoke social reflection. Looking back, we can also see whether the Taiwanese government and large enterprises are willing to take the same measures to support families who are planning to have children and are raising children.

(Guess you want to see: Parental leave is actually taboo in the workplace? Nearly half of employees dare not use parental leave!)

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In Taiwan, according to the "2024 Gender Image" released by the Gender Equality Division of the Executive Yuan, the proportion of Taiwanese men applying for childcare allowance in 2022 has reached a new historical draft, accounting for about 25%. We are pleased to see that the trend is growing, and we are also seeing that 75% of the childcare allowance is still claimed by women, and there is still much more to work on.

Diversity and inclusion in a country requires top-down policies, guidance from leading companies, and bottom-up concrete actions and communication, so that the gender role framework of housework and childcare can be dismantled, and the workplace is encouraged to support more "men and women who are raising children".