Photo: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
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Tokyo government announces new name for maternity/paternity leave; hopes to change attitudes

24 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

In a lot of Japanese vocabulary words, if you hear the sound kyu, it means “rest.” For example, the word for “break” (as in “take a break”) is kyukei, and the one for “holiday” is kyujitsu.

But the kyu word we’re talking about today is kyugyo. Kyugyo is a handy compact expression for a leave of absence from work, and it’s written by combining the kanji character 休, meaning “rest,” with 業, meaning “an enterprise or undertaking,” and in many cases, by association, “work.”

▼ Kyugyo

Screen-Shot-2022-07-01-at-11.08.20.png

Kyugyo is often combined with some other vocabulary word to specify the reason someone is taking leave, which is where we get the expression* **ikuji kyugyo. Ikuji means “child rearing,” and so ikuji kyugyo* is when a new mother or father takes parental leave.

▼ Ikuji kyugyo

Screen-Shot-2022-07-01-at-11.09.07.png

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike doesn’t like the sound of “ikuji kyugyo,” though, since individually, those kanji mean:

● 育 = raising

● 児 = child

● 休 = rest

● 業 = work

Koike is concerned that the etymology of ikuji kyugyo could be creating a sense that people who take maternity or paternity leave are “resting” while they’re not “working” in the office, in turn making it socially difficult for new parents to take the time off necessary to care for a newborn and maintain their own health as well. Because of that, Koike called for suggestions for a new term to describe parental leave, and after receiving some 8,800 submissions, the committee in charge of the project has decided on the word ikugyo.

▼ Ikugyo

Screen-Shot-2022-07-01-at-11.10.12.png

As you can see, the word is formed by removing the middle portion of ikuji kyugyo, leaving just the kanji for “raising” and “work.” The intended implication is a reminder that mothers and fathers taking parental leave aren’t resting and relaxing, but instead involved in an important and involved enterprise of providing for a new member of both their family and society.

“Parental leave is not, by any means, a vacation,” Koike asserted in a speech on June 29 announcing the selection of ikugyo. “Child rearing is the important job of caring for the ones who will carry the future. In addition to "work," gyo also has the meaning of expending effort to achieve something.”

The newly coined term itself has been getting largely positive reactions from Japanese Twitter commenters, such as:

“I hope women and men who were unable to take ‘ikuji kyugyo’ will be able to take ‘ikugyo!’”

“I think it’s very progressive to get rid of the ‘rest’ part.’”

“It’s a short and sweet phrase, and I think it’s lovely.”

“Something’s name can have a big effect on it’s image, so I think this sort of thing is important.”

“Naming-wise, I think this is a good choice.”

At the same time, some have also expressed skepticism at how much increase in parental leave being taken will come from a name change alone.

The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to use the ikugyo terminology in awareness campaigns and public service activities, but has not made any direct pledge to retire ikuji kyugyo entirely from official documents and statements.

Sources: Abema TimesTele Asa NewsTwitter

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Does Tokyo need a legal limit on kids’ video game playing time? Governor gives opinion

-- [Men in Japan are not taking paternity leave – why?](Men in Japan are not taking paternity leave – why?)

-- Japan’s revised child care law makes it easier for fathers to take four weeks of paternity leave

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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hope they'll set up a new committee soon, to examine the best way to go about creating a mascot for this campaign..... then the mascot can travel around Japan encouraging people to take m/p-aternity leave.... oh.... and another committee to decide the best way to go about urging people to have babies..... then a team to decide about a mascot for that.... ganbatte ne government-san-tachi....

1 ( +19 / -18 )

diagonalslipToday  06:57 am JST

YES a big fat mascot, that will do it, you my friend are on too it. And YES a committee meeting not one but several with no particular outcome. Maybe we don’t understand what after all these committees are saying, they what to know at what level of poverty is child rearing possible?

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

Gotta give credit where credit is due. So many things here are built around image and impression, and once this starts to, hopefully, sink in, people will understand and cooperate.

Thankfully I work in a company where this is not a problem, but it is the rare one at that!

Just an example, recently, 2 women, from a a section that only had 4 people in it, took off for maternity leave, they actually gave birth within 2 days of each other as well. No one said anything, and everyone else is covering for them, until at least April of next year, maybe longer, if they take the extended leave.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Big deal! As long as the oyaji keep to their old school ways (along with those trained by the oyaji), not much will change.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Is Japan so superficial that they think the word will make a difference?

How about start handing out heavy fines for companies that don’t allow paid paternity and maternity leave, or allow them to go at all for that matter?

On the other hand, I’m sure it’s not all one sided. While younger men may want to voluntarily take paternity leave, it’s the dinosaurs who refuse to do it, that gives a bad name towards others.

Until the thick headed morons wisen up and realize infant bearing isn’t “woman’s work” and realize it’s “a parent’s privilege,” then none of this matters anyways.

-2 ( +11 / -13 )

Good for taking leave, it’s a baby and anyone who has had one knows that’s not easy. And at the same time so joyful. I don’t get why companies get no joy from it? It’s not like they have to pay anything. Just reorganisation of the office work space, they did have 9 months warning after all. Not enough?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

hope they'll set up a new committee soon, to examine the best way to go about creating a mascot for this campaign..... then the mascot can travel around Japan encouraging people to take m/p-aternity leave.... oh.... and another committee to decide the best way to go about urging people to have babies..... then a team to decide about a mascot for that.... ganbatte ne government-san-tachi....

Wouldn't surprise me one bit considering this country has a mascot for that time of the month for women- I am not making this up- Little Miss Period.

Is Japan so superficial that they think the word will make a difference?

Uh..Yea! Duh!

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

Until the thick headed morons wisen up and realize infant bearing isn’t “woman’s work” and realize it’s “a parent’s privilege,” then none of this matters anyways.

That's a very big UNTIL my friend.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

Once the new word will clearly be in the mind, it will make a difference

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Right, it was the vocabulary that made the court agree with Mitsubishi UFJ's case against Glen Wood. His lawyers should emphasize that he took an 育業 and not 休業 in his appeal, and surely the outcome will be different this time, right?

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Maybe they should of used the word Prego,meaning she pregnant and gone

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

But there is no future in Japan. They can't even "kyu" without being frowned upon by colleagues. There is something about their genes here that just hates seeing someone happy.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

Good grief, could they make it any more convoluted? As if a name change will motivate J-companies to promote paternity and maternity leave and stop harassing the fathers that take it. Why not focus their energies on actually drawing up laws and regulations that penalize companies that punish those who try to take maternity or paternity leave as they are entitled to?

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Gives off “Premium Friday” vibes as far as a government initiative everyone already knows won’t work or last.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It aint a holiday. After 6 kids we can tell you that for certain. Ikugyo!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Wonderful! Now that they have a name, they can start working on actually getting couples to have children or even singles that want to adopt or in vitro whatever. Just get that birthrate up!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Blacklabel

Gives off “Premium Friday” vibes as far as a government initiative everyone already knows won’t work or last.

Right on spot.

"Bandage on a wooden leg" also comes to mind...

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Japan has a big problem with people refusing to have children because it is seem as irresponsible to leave work to take care of them.

"Lets change the name of paternal leave so it is more positive"

Meanwhile....

"High court rejects paternity harassment allegations by Canadian man"

https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-high-court-rejects-paternity-harassment-allegations

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Doing anything frivolous and wasteful rather than actually addressing the issue. Next they'll spend ¥ and time to choose a mascot. Meanwhile Japanese companies will continue to harass and deny employees their maternity and paternity leave cause well....children aren't that important even though we have a disastrous population problem. Makes one wonder if government leaders know arithmetic.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Tinkering with superficialities.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Once again, it's not as important to actually pro-actively DO something, but important to BE SEEN to be doing something. Also, the crux of the problematic system in Japan is this:

... everyone else is covering for them, until at least April of next year...

Without legislation that strictly encourages via monetary incentives (if not actually demands) that employees take leave and employers grant it without harassment real change is not likely.

Surely a pool of temporary workers who would happily cover the work of those on leave could be found. In other countries this is often handled by recent retirees or those who for numerous reasons do not want a fulltime commitment to a company. For example, a talented friend with much to contribute whose husband's company can move him at any time to one of their other national branches who feels that by taking on employment she will only disappoint her employer.

Covering someone else's work and thus creating an environment in which coworkers resent colleagues for taking what is their legal right is just not on.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Look how big those kanji fonts are. Not all us gaijin are nearsighted.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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