Numerous studies have documented the extremely low amount of time that Japanese men devote to housework and childcare (Feyrer, Sacerdote, and Stern 2008; Tsuya, Bumpass, and Choe 2000; Tsuya et al. 2013). According to the Japanese Cabinet Office’s 2014 White Paper on Children, Japanese fathers of preschool children spent an average of 1.07 hours per week on housework and childcare, compared to over two hours for fathers in France and the United Kingdom and over three hours in the United States, Germany, Sweden, and Norway.
To be sure, men are likely to work more hours than women in most societies, but in Japan this is reified in a way unlike in other countries:
This paper has focused on the Japanese employment system, a system of labor practices and work norms that continues to apply especially to male university graduates working in large firms. The system is based on an implicit contract between employer and employee in which the employer promises job security and future wage increases in exchange for employees’ high work commitment and willingness to work overtime and relocate when ordered to by the company. This package of employment practices is supported by Japanese Supreme Court rulings. The speed of promotion and the amount of future wage increases depend on the evaluations of managers, beginning in the early years of a man’s career and extending throughout his working life. A highly gendered division of labor at home is a rational response to this system, as it facilitates men’s ability to fully engage in the intra-company competition for promotion that characterizes the early career stage.This is fine if women are stay-at-home moms, but many are not, and therein lies the clash between a society wanting men to work all the time and a society that would prefer women to transition to a second birth.