TOKYO -- The time men spend on housework and child care has not changed much since before and after the coronavirus outbreak in Japan, even though working from home became more common among workers, a survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has shown.
In June 2021, when the Japanese capital was under a COVID-19 state of emergency, the metropolitan government asked a total of 5,000 women and men living in Tokyo online about how much time they spend on house chores and child care, as well as their remote work conditions.
When the weekly average of time spent on housework and child care per day was tallied among 2,000 women and men who live with their spouses and preschool age children, women spent eight hours and 54 minutes, while men spent three hours and 34 minutes. Compared to a pre-coronavirus 2019 study, for women it was an increase of 20 minutes, while for men it was just a one-minute increase.
Of married men, 47.3% said they had more time for non-work things when they were home during weekdays due to increased teleworking, topping the 32.4 % of their female counterparts.
Among double-income households, meanwhile, men on weekdays spent one hour and five minutes on housework on average, while women spent two hours and 11 minutes. When broken down by whether they worked remotely, while men spent roughly one hour on housework regardless of if they or their wives worked from home or not, women who said only their husbands teleworked spent the longest time on house chores at two hours and 26 minutes.
Shungo Koreeda, chief researcher at Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd. who was involved in the survey as a metropolitan government gender equality council member, said, "The longer you stay home, the more necessary housework there is. Despite of this, the time men spend on house chores hasn't changed, meaning that their wives are left to bear the burden." Keeping in mind that many women work part time, Koreeda pointed out, "It's not that men are too busy working that they don't have time to do house chores or take care of their children, but it became clear that they don't necessarily do (domestic jobs) even when they have time." He concluded, "We can say that the coronavirus crisis has further increased the housework and child care burden on women."
The metropolitan government is calling on men to proactively get involved in doing house chores and taking care of their own children. To help men update their awareness, it's created a special website titled "Team housework and child care" (https://www.seikatubunka.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/danjo/wlb_top/0000001589/) featuring a popular pro wrestler taking up challenges of housework and staying home with a child. The metropolitan government also runs the "Papas style" web content (https://www.seikatubunka.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/danjo/wlb_top/0000001091.html) where readers can learn about how fathers can get involved in child care with examples and interviews with experts.
(Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Tokyo City News Department)