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Japan stumbles over baby steps to encourage working moms

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“Unfortunately, the badge is often seen as a sign of the vanity of being pregnant,”

So much depressing insight in this one sentence.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Yep, I live, work and have kids in Japan. People get really petty here about all kinds of stuff. Want to use your vacation leave? Good luck, as I am sure some people at your office will hold that against you. Seriously a bunch of losers here in the offices.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

What it comes down to is a lack of genuine caring and respect for others especially women in the culture. Begin at school and at home with children, especially little girls - teach that they are equally valuable members of society, and teach 'heartfelt kindness towards others is more important than anything else'.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Experts say Japanese society needs to look for more flexible solutions.

Experts are correct.

Flexibility is lacking here. In all fields.

Changing attitudes (towards anything) in Japan takes time. Much time. It will probably take a generation or two for people to be able to change their attitudes toward women and their lives.

Much of the problem lies in the way women themselves view themselves. Unless they start standing up for each other, the change will never come. Right now, it seems to me, many women look down upon mothers with children and fail to show sympathy to their situations of working and caring for children.

Many times, Japan fees like it's about 50 years behind on social issues.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

You can't just give special consideration to pregnant women, you have to make it flexible for all to avoid resentment.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Suriname and Azerbaijan

Are they trying to say that these two countries are on a lower level than Japan?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Shonanbb,

No, the opposite. When it comes to females in executive positions, Suriname and Azerbaijan have More than Japan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

RecklessAPR. 01, 2016 - 09:13AM JST You can't just give special consideration to pregnant women, you have to make it flexible for all to avoid resentment.

I'm not sure if I agree or disagree, in part because I don't know what sort of mindset you're making this comment from.

Pregnant women absolutely need special consideration because pregnancy is a special situation that's quite different from not being pregnant. But that said, I would agree with Fuben when he said:

FubenAPR. 01, 2016 - 08:46AM JST Flexibility is lacking here. In all fields.

It's true. And that's the underlying problem, that workplaces in Japan struggle to accommodate anyone who needs special consideration. Or rather, workplaces struggle to accommodate everyone. We are all unique, we're all in situations that need some kind of special consideration at least once in our lives, but the Japanese system exerts pressure against everyone to hide that need, let alone claim it or demand it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@katsu78, I mean if a pregnant woman gets the same pay for less work and greater flexibility then that will lead to resentment. Having children is a personal lifestyle choice.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Reckless, what a selfish way to think about the world, even at the most inhuman surely you want someone to have the kids that are going to pay for your retirement.

In all I think there needs to be more flexibility all around, but if its not OK to look after the next generation we are in serious trouble.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@NZ2011, I have three sons. My wife stays home and raises them by her choice. We suffer financially compared to double income folks. I stand behind what I said 100%. I should not subsidize working mothers. If they want to work less then get paid less. That is fair and logical. One lady on my team is taking the year off and her work was summarily handed out the 3 remaining guys on the team, so I have to subsidize her work.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Having children is a personal lifestyle choice.

No. Going gluten free is a lifestyle choice. The perpetuation of our species and securing future generations to stabilize society for all who live in it is not a lifestyle choice. This is an asinine way of thinking.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

RecklessAPR. 01, 2016 - 11:07AM JST One lady on my team is taking the year off and her work was summarily handed out the 3 remaining guys on the team, so I have to subsidize her work.

Erm... if you don't pay her salary, you're not "subsidizing" anything. You're just doing more work than her. At least so long as you only look at the work you're doing in your company and you only look at the work that's being done at precisely this moment.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan - where women are criticised for not having kids, then criticised even more upon having kids (and wanting to return to work - oh the outrage!)(yes, that was sarcasm).

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Reckless, having kids is natural, not a personal lifestyle choice. You are bickering and must be under pressure having 3 kids (I have too) but you did not assess properly the situation:

pregnant women are treasures to protect you are paid because you signed a contract with your employer. If your employer is drying you up over undefined working clauses (do the job of many, typical kind of harassment after all), fight to make your own rights. You are not a sheep to follow the herd. If so, don't complain. women should receive a social compensation to raise kids instead of working as so not to make a gap between working and non-working staff (to extend to husband's by the way).

I am French, and although we did not use 'nounous', I can't imagine a society without. It is a simple and effective social distribution of roles.

Japan demography is like Titanic but in daylight.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Japan demography is like Titanic but in daylight

Jonathan Prin...this is the best quote today

2 ( +3 / -1 )

borscht:

Then you do not understand my intentions.

Japan thinks they are better than everyone and to name two other countries of like useless places according to their egos, then that is a slap in the face to the other side.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Everyone worried about other people and no one doing their actual jobs....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Women needs to be given some flexibility in the work place atleast during their pregnancy and during the initial stage of their child's birth.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is an interesting article given that the issue largely seems to be other women complaining about/bullying other women. At least it knocks on the head the idea that it's evil men oppressing women.

Clearly colleagues and companies need to cut pregnant women some slack, although the most accommodation required is usually towards the end of the pregnancy, so disruption is normally minimal. Maternity leave is also important for obvious reasons. But companies must take up the slack by hiring/promoting temporarily to cover the gap. Otherwise it's not surprising if other employees complain.

After pregnancy is an interesting point because families aren't temporary. Companies should be flexible to allow mothers (or fathers) to cope with child-caring responsibilities. But I do think they must be flexible with wages. If one worker gets to work 10-4 because they have a child, I would imagine most people would be hacked off if that person still got paid the same as them. Either the company needs to have a system where that person can make up the hours by staying late/coming to work early on some days or working from home - or having some sort of pro-rata system for pay. In some countries people can work less days in a week and their pay is correspondingly reduced. I don't see why there couldn't be a "family pay option" where you have the ability to work shorter days, without any requirement to make up hours, for slightly less pay.

One lady on my team is taking the year off and her work was summarily handed out the 3 remaining guys on the team, so I have to subsidize her work.

What you do is you tell management they need to hire someone pronto to cover her work, or correspondingly reduce new work to your team so it balances itself out. Your female colleague didn't ask your company to treat you badly, nor did she know you'd just meekly accept a large increase in the work you're asked to do without complaint.

I would suggest that if your company refuses to hire someone new, you find a new job ASAP because that would mean they don't care about you and will exploit you if and when it's convenient. Today it's a colleague leaving for maternity leave (or whatever), tomorrow it's "company restructuring", the week after it's "unprecedented levels of new projects", etc.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am very glad to see some discussion about women bullying other women in the workplace. It needs to be addressed. In my instance my wife has been bullied by the female staff and afraid to take time off. She even works on Golden week. I see managment (usually men) just ignoring this. I feel like reporting this to the Labor Bureau but what can they do. Education from the government would be nice and some tax penalties onn companies who have complaints.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh the irony of someone with a stay at home wife and three kids complaining about supposedly subsidizing a future working mom...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If change is to happen, it is going to have to come in the form of mothers, mothers-to-be, and those sympathetic to their viewpoint creating new companies and helping grow existing companies with family-friendly workplaces.

If the only way for most people to have enough money to live off of and a harmonious work life is to never have kids, then you had better bet Japan's population will keep decreasing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Begin at school and at home with children, especially little girls - teach that they are equally valuable members of society, and teach 'heartfelt kindness towards others is more important than anything else'.

That's one place to start, but you need to make little boys understand that little girls and women are equally valuable, too. You won't have success otherwise. There are too many boys in too many cultures (including the so-called emancipated/equal West) who don't get that message.

The other thing is that legislation in Japan needs to address holiday time and overtime.

If ALL people had reasonable working hours and many more people who needed them could take part time hours (with pay pro-rated accordingly) that would eliminate the need to bully people who "cause more work for others." If it is necessary for a business to have workers in place for 18 hours, then they should hire two 9-hour shifts or three 6-hour ones, There is no need for one person to sit all day at a desk "looking busy" or "working to death" only to be obligated to stay out drinking after work hours. That insanity encourages inefficiency and perpetuates the systemic bullying problem.

If it were illegal (and subject to fines or encouraged by tax rebates) NOT to take your allotted vacation time, that would also help. Scheduling vacations so that they don't all fall in the same couple of weeks in a year wouldn't hurt either.

But. The big but. That would mean change. The big boogeyman Change is more feared than the 10.0 earthquake due (anytime now) in Tokyo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/01/national/social-issues/robotics-makes-baby-steps-toward-solving-japans-child-care-shortage/#.Vv6bo3q2WiP

With the new robot and drone technology that Japan possesses it will not long before these Mothers can find affordable child-care 24/7.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That badge is unnecessary, in my opinion. If you are obviously pregnant, you deserve a seat, if not you don't. Even the signs near the priority seats show a woman who's stomach is very big, not somebody who recently conceived and went to the clinic to get her "free seat on the train strap"

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The bullying culture of Japan constantly amazes me.

It's a disgrace. This is Dark Ages stuff.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you are obviously pregnant, you deserve a seat, if not you don't. Even the signs near the priority seats show a woman who's stomach is very big, not somebody who recently conceived and went to the clinic to get her "free seat on the train strap"

What? First, Japanese women tend to keep quite small during pregnancy. Second, the crowding of the trains or falling down can be dangerous at any stage. I can't believe people think women get those badges for the purpose of 'stealing' seats, which by the way are normally priority seats anyway

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The question of whether Japanese people lack empathy was put forward in another recent article on Japan Today. It was based on poor viewing figures for a tv special commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Tohoku disaster.

I don't know if you can say that given the quality of Japanese tv, but what is certain is that there is a lack of empathy described here toward pregnant women and working parents (read "mothers").

Aside from the workplace, it is well known that working parents (read "mothers") who do not fully engage in group activities at preschools and schools, or rely on other parents' cooperation, say to take Taro to swimming school, will often be gossiped about and in some cases hated by parents (read "mothers") who do not work full time. A lot of such group activities are held during office hours, because the critical mass of mothers do not work.

So working parents can get it both ways, in the workplace for not working enough, and at school/pre-school for not being a textbook mother. That is a huge lack of empathy on both sides.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you are obviously pregnant, you deserve a seat, if not you don't.

You do realise that it is the first few months of pregnancy that are the most unstable? When a miscarriage is more likely to happen? A woman who is obviously pregnant might be tired from carrying the extra weight around, but it's her three-months-gone-and-not-showing-yet sister who needs the seat.

This is why in the old days, every woman was treated with consideration; you didn't know who was pregnant, you didn't want to ask, so treating every woman like a delicate flower, just in case, made sense. Now you only need to be nice to women with badges, and still people complain...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Shumatsu_Samurai

Clearly colleagues and companies need to cut pregnant women some slack, although the most accommodation required is usually towards the end of the pregnancy

Although this (luckily) was NOT my particular case, a lot of pregnant mothers do experience such things as "morning sickness" at the beginning of their pregnancy, which can be (or so I have heard) quite difficult to bear...

As a single mother, I'm just thankful I never worked for a 100% Japanese company...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Being Japanese, I sometimes get annoyed when I see Japanese act so selfish that they bully pregnant women.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan was ranked 101 out of 145 in the Global Gender Gap Index 2015, released by World Economic Forum, lower than Suriname and Azerbaijan.

Yep. And the UK (18) and the US (28) rank well behind Rwanda (6), Slovenia (9), and Nicaragua (12).

This is an interesting article given that the issue largely seems to be other women complaining about/bullying other women. At least it knocks on the head the idea that it's evil men oppressing women.

Women bullying women is a well-known phenomenon in the specialized literature on workplace harassment. Journalists seldom mention it because women bullying women does not fit with the common assumption that all evil is perpetrated by men.

With the new robot and drone technology that Japan possesses it will not long before these Mothers can find affordable child-care 24/7.

Improbable. The bulk of the daycare shortage is in the 0-3 age cohort. It's hard enough for humans to deal with babies and toddlers. The idea that robots and drones might is a pipe dream.

The bullying culture of Japan constantly amazes me. It's a disgrace. This is Dark Ages stuff.

What evidence do you have that bullying is more prevalent in Japan than in other countries? Do a search on "bullying Britain" or just "bullying" by itself. I can tell you on the basis of personal observation, experience, and reading on the subject that Brits match or exceed the Japanese in this area.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japan really is stuck between two mutually exclusive imperatives. It needs women to have way more babies than they do now in order to mitigate its impending demographic crisis, but it also needs those same women to work more, again because of its demographic crisis.

I have yet to see it explained how these two obviously conflicting necessities are going to be sorted out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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