The Japanese government has drafted a law revision to the country’s regulation on paternity leave to encourage more men to take leave for the birth of their child, according to NHK World.

Under the revised draft, male employees would be able to take four weeks of leave within eight weeks from the birth of their child.

The country’s paternity leave regulation currently requires fathers to apply for the leave a month in advance, while the revised measure would cut it down to two weeks ahead. Employees would also be able to split the leave into two periods.

The government has been encouraging men in the workforce to take paternity leave, but the practice is not common in Japan, which suffers from a declining birth rate.

The issue of refusing to take leave among Japanese workers stems from the nation’s culture of overwork, which has long been criticised. Despite the country’s best efforts to resolve the issues that have arisen as a result of this work culture, the combination of long-standing tradition and peer pressure has continued to ensure that Japanese workers continue to commit unreasonable hours to working despite seeing only marginal gains; all the while not making use of their entitled leave.

The revised bill by the government would require companies to have their employees informed about the measures. Large corporations will also have to publicise how many of their staff take paternity leave to encourage others to do the same.

The government aims to increase the proportion of men taking paternity leave to 30 percent by 2025, increasing it from 7.48 percent in the fiscal year ending March 2020.

In fiscal year 2019, 16.4 percent of eligible male central government workers took child care leave in Japan, an increase of 4 percentage points compared to the previous fiscal year ending March 2019, said Taro Kono, minister in charge of administrative and regulatory reform.

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