[Japan] Working women rely on daycare centres

Daycare centres are the most popular places for mothers to place their children when they are at work, replacing a previous reliance on parents, according to a survey released last week, The Japan Times reports.

The survey of married women was conducted in July 2018 by a government-affiliated institute. 42 per cent of its respondents said they leave their children at nurseries and other public facilities while they are at work. The figure an increase of 8.2 percentage points from the previous survey, conducted five years earlier.

Working mothers relying on parents or parents-in-law to care for their children accounted for 33.9 per cent, a drop of 8.3 points. The nationwide survey of 6,142 married women was carried out by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, an affiliate of the welfare ministry.

An institute official said, “Day-care centres for children may have become more accessible for mothers in terms of psychological and other aspects.” 

The proposal to allow a married couple to have different surnames was supported by a majority of respondents for the first time, at 50.5 per cent, an increase of 9.0 points. The lack of support for the idea in the last two surveys was interpreted as a return to conservative family values.

In Japan, a married couple is legally obliged to have the same surname, other than those in international marriages. Women give up their maiden names in the majority of cases.

The survey is conducted once every five years. For the first time, respondents were asked about same-sex couples and they responded positively. 75.1 per cent said same-sex couples should be allowed legal guarantees and 69.5 per cent supported the idea of legalising same-sex marriage.

The survey found that women are responsible for “invisible household chores” - chores that are not as recognisable as cooking and laundry -  noting that 91.6 per cent menu plan and 76.2 per cent sort out the rubbish.