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The Spread of Corporate Measures to Support Child Care and Family Care

One Dimension of Action in Response to the Declining Birth Rate in Japan

The child and family care support packages that Japanese corporations offer their employees are growing. Examples include the expanded availability of daycare centers for employees' children, the extension of the period of shorter working hours in order to provide child care, and the provision of an increased number of days for family welfare leave to provide family members with nursing care and other assistance.

Japan's working age population will fall from 83,946,000 (65.7% of the country's total population) in 2006 to 76,556,000 (60.8%) in 2016, according to the medium variant projections in the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research's Population Projections for Japan.

Since the country's dwindling birth rate and its aging population will mean a reduction in the labor force, a problem with major ramifications for society as a whole, attempts to expand the employment of the elderly continue in Japan. There is also a simultaneous need for efforts to create a society in which it is easy to give birth to children and bring them up. The Vertical Survey of Live Births in the 21st Century, published by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare in 2002, revealed a situation in which around two thirds of working women giving birth for the first time leave their jobs.

It was against this backdrop that the Next Generation Nurturing Support Measures Promotion Law was put into effect in Japan in 2003. Under this law, not only central government and local government entities but also business proprietors employing more than 300 workers are required to formulate an action plan for the creation of an environment conducive to bringing up children. The law called for the prompt submission of these action plans starting April 1, 2005. Business proprietors employing 300 or fewer workers are obliged to make similar efforts in good faith. The Law Concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care and Family Care Leave was also revised and reinforced in 2005.

From a corporate perspective, concern about a labor shortage is surfacing as the Japanese economy gets back on course and economic expansion continues. The need to secure top-notch, experienced personnel through the creation of an environment that is conducive to both child care and work is intensifying.

Examples of recent corporate action to improve internal systems for the purpose of supporting child care and family care

The establishment, under the direct control of the company's president, of the 'Corporate Equal Partnership Office' (an office to promote the advancement of women). – Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd., 2005

Support for ensuring time for child care
Shorter working hours was previously available for employees with children aged seven and under. However, in 2006, the company expanded the applicable age to nine years old. (The legal requirement is until the child has reached six years of age.) Age as of March 31 is considered for the determination of the child's eligibility for the program. – Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd., 2006

Reemployment of employees who leave their jobs in order to care for children
The reinforcement of a system that eliminates the internal selection process that has traditionally been part of reemployment, and instead guarantees reinstatement for those wishing to return to work. – Sharp Corporation, 2006

Support for activities that benefit a local community and are related to children and child-rearing
The introduction of a volunteer leave system. The number of days is set at 12 per business year (a maximum of 5 consecutive days), and all days are treated as paid time off. – Aioi Insurance Co., Ltd., 2005

As the above examples illustrate, support for bringing up children is gaining ground in Japanese corporations. However, many challenges also remain, including the fact that male employees very rarely take advantage of arrangements for child care and family care leave. The creation of social systems that enable young couples to start families without worrying about the future is desirable, and it is hoped that these efforts will not be limited to individual corporations.

Data & Laws Concerned

1) Projected future population and proportion by age group,2000-2050: medium variant

YearPopulationPercentage (%)
14 and
15 to 6465 and
14 and
15 to 6465 and

National Institute of Population and Social Security Research


2) Outline of the Revised Law Concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members, Including Child Care and Family Care Leave (In Effect as of April 1, 2005)


3) Excerpt from the Labor Standards Law - Before and After Childbirth

[Article 65] In the event that a woman who is expected to give birth within 6 weeks (or within 14 weeks in the case of multiple fetuses) requests rest days, the employer shall not make such a person work.

[2] An employer shall not have a woman work within 8 weeks after childbirth; however, this shall not prevent an employer from having such a woman work, if she has so requested, after 6 weeks have passed since childbirth, in duties which a doctor has approved as having no adverse effect on her.

[3] In the event that a pregnant woman has so requested, an employer shall transfer her to lighter duties.


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