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Nearly all Japanese gov't workers eligible for paternity leave set to take it: poll

A father takes a stroll with his child in a park in Yokohama during his paternity leave in July 2019. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Nearly all men working for the Japanese government whose wives recently had babies plan to take paternity leave, according to a recent survey, amid a push in the chronically overworked country to allow for more family time.

    Of the 3,035 male government employees who had children between April and June, 3,030, or 99.8 percent, have submitted leave plans, says the poll by the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs.

    The government in April introduced a target for public servants to take at least 30 days of paternity leave. Managers are being held responsible for making that possible, including by spreading the extra workload among other team members.

    Of those who submitted a plan, 2,582, or 85.2 percent, planned to take at least 30 days off. The average length of leave was 43 days.

    "We're hopeful that the plans will actually be put into action," an official at the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs said.

    Just 12.4 percent of eligible male government workers took paternity leave in fiscal 2018, with the figure even lower in fiscal 2017 at 10.0 percent.

    The survey covered men working for government ministries and agencies, as well as male members of the Self-Defense Forces. Only five of those who had children between April and June did not submit a plan -- four from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and one from the Finance Ministry.

    Some are having difficulty taking leave because they are working on the response to COVID-19 or natural disasters that have struck the country this year, according to the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs.

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