In Brief

Never mind politics and sex. There are two words that are infinitely more taboo when spoken in the confines of a Japanese office: “paternity” and “leave”.

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Never mind politics and sex. There are two words that are infinitely more taboo when spoken in the confines of a Japanese office: “paternity” and “leave”.

Japan, birthplace of the workaholic salaryman, has long held the dubious distinction of being one of the most overworked nations in the developed world. And nowhere is this better reflected than in the context of Japanese fathers. Fewer than 1 per cent of new dads take the full leave to which they are legally entitled – often because it is professionally frowned upon, adds pressure on their colleagues and lowers chances of promotion.

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