Japan Mayors Promote Work-Life Balance

Japan Mayors Promote Work-Life BalanceJapan Mayors Promote Work-Life Balance

The mayors of 20 major cities across Japan are discussing plans to make a joint declaration of their commitment to helping government personnel balance work with child and nursing care.

The so-called IkuBoss declaration would state their intention to take the initiative in creating employment environments supportive of work-life balance, at a meeting in Nagoya from May 30 to 31, sources said, The Japan Times reported.

The government is encouraging men to take child care leave to promote the spread of working women and halt the fall in the birthrate. It aims to increase the ratio of male bureaucrats who take child care leave to 13% by fiscal 2020, up from 3.1% in the central government and 1.5% in prefectural and other governments in fiscal 2014.

To do this, it is imperative to improve the workplace environment for fathers and to take action against ‘burakku kigyo’, the so-called black companies notorious for maintaining poor conditions and forcing employees to work extra long hours without overtime.

 No Overtime Please!

To address the challenges, the mayors of the 20 cities involved are planning to work together and take leading roles in motivating businesses in their regions to reform.

At the meeting, the mayors are expected to agree to nudge male personnel to take parental leave and to designate no-overtime days, according to the sources.

In the IkuBoss declaration, government and business leaders will make clear that they are committed to supporting the work-life balance of employees, including themselves, and promoting more efficient ways of working. IkuBoss derives from the Japanese phrase ikuji, which means to raise children.

The idea was proposed by Fathering Japan, a Tokyo-based nongovernmental organization, in March 2014. To support the initiative, the central government established the IkuBoss Award to recognize corporate managers who promote child care leave.

In November 2014, Osami Takeyama, the mayor of Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, became the first to make an IkuBoss declaration, followed by the mayors of Kitakyushu, Nagoya, Kyoto and Chiba.

“IkuBoss is a keyword to change the mentality of managers,” Tetsuya Ando, chief representative of Fathering Japan, said. Noting the growing legions of people who are quitting their jobs to care for parents, Ando said, “IkuBoss in the true sense of the term refers to bosses who contribute to creating a society that is friendly to every worker.”