top of page

Japan Needs to Take a Look at the Parenting Environment in Sweden

July 20, 2018

Yui Kubota

Japan Need Female Workers

There are big differences in parenting environments and advantages/disadvantages of child-rearing in each country. In japan, the percentage who do not satisfied with the parenting environments over 60. Japanese society are pushing female to working place because we recognize female has potential for improving our labor shortage. Japan facing with the low birthrate problem and less workers. On the other hand, the non-fulltime employees are increasing and most of them are female (see Figure 1).

(Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Statistics Bureau)

   However, the number of female who want to work as a regular full-time employee are getting increasing because their skills and knowledge are getting higher. Also our society respect flexible lifestyle. Currently, people want to enjoy flexible lifestyles and they think about their own happiness free from traditional roles and stereotypes. Government tries to encourage people to shift from the part-time to the full-time workers. It’s just started but the social influence and needs of female workers are increasing but the environment hasn’t kept up.

“Gender Division of Labor” Deeply

Until few years ago, it was not expected many female labor force in business, because many people had the feeling of “gender division of labor” deeply in their minds. It means female should engage in housework, men should engage in work on business. Japanese had thought a good woman meant as a good house worker who supported their husband well. It’s called “naijo no ko (effective domestic supports).” Also, working mothers sometimes suggested that their husbands did not play the role of supporting their family. Now, Japanese society is changing to the one with gender equally. Many people now recognized that role should not be determined by gender. Some company try to make female employees as a leader and give them the training and information than before. However, making a supportive environment for them such as parenting are not enough.

Parenting Environment of Japan

We have many problems in parenting environment. For example, there are a number of children who can’t go to nursery schools because of the shortage of slots. Female workers focus on this problem because they cannot work by ignoring their children. Especially, when the children are small, such as before the age of going to primary school, they need a help almost all the time, otherwise parents can’t go away without them. That is why women tend to work as a non-regular, part-time employee who can work just short hours or flexibly in case for any troubles when their children need help. Another problem behind the shortage of nursery schools is because of the low salary of childminder, who has to engage in a hard work with powerful children. Because people tend to avoid this job, prospective the number of teachers at nursery school are decreasing because the salary is low. Another problem is husband.

As mentioned earlier, Japanese people had a sense of “gender division of labor” deeply in their mind and many males thought the role of taking care children was for female. For those women with children who showed the discontents, this gender role sentiment ranked as the top one reason. Because of this gender bias, female feel lonely and have a lot of frustrations. Parenting is amazingly tough work because it needs physical power to hold the children, along with heavy shopping bags and it often rob the sleeping time of mothers because of the children’s crying at night. At the same time, they need to pursue their own personal future life course. We need to understand the fact that no one can do parenting alone. However, these problem still persistent.

The Thought of TOP

Sweden is on the top which has a best parenting environment in the world, according to the survey by the Wharton school of the University of Pennsylvania, released on July 3, 2017. Sweden tries to improve the parenting environment throughout the country. We can find the 3 important things in their initiatives below.

1) Its natural for women to have a job.

2) Most people know the difficulty of parenting and understand how everyone can live well with a good balance between work and life.

3) Men think it’s natural to do the housework and parenting by themselves.

It’s difficult to think in someone’s shoes. If everyone believes in the feeling mentioned in 1), the husbands try to take care children more. In Japan, government states the average time for husband to spend for their kids is 67 minutes per a day. They think it’s not their problems because working outside is their role in a family. This mindset makes husband uncooperative and wife feel lonely. If everyone has recognition of number 2), everyone tries to think about the safety and how can they help the mothers. In Japan, sometimes “maternity harassment” can happen in the working place by the people, who do not understand the difficulty of having and raising children. The issue makes female workers nerves and intimidated from having children. If everyone has the notion of number 3), female can work as a regular employee for their happiness.

Need Reviewing the Switzerland Case

We need to take a close look at the model of Switzerland. Switzerland experienced the similar situation like Japan. They had the low birthrate and less workers after big economic growth. Now, they are ranked in the top of best good environment for parenting in the world. We definitely can learn a good solution from them.



bottom of page