You must wait your turn to have a baby
Women being discouraged from having children? That’s the last thing you’d expect in a country suffering a steep demographic decline, said the Mainichi Shimbun. Yet in those Japanese workplaces where women make up most of the staff, that’s exactly what’s happening. Managers are telling female employees to wait their “turn” before having a baby. In one recent incident that caused a public outcry, an employee at a child care center who discovered she was pregnant was chided by her boss for “selfishly breaking the rules.” He had drawn up a strict schedule for female staff to take time off to give birth and she had ruined it. In another incident, a 26-year-old working at a Tokyo cosmetics firm was told by a supervisor that she’d be allowed to have a child only after 10 years of employment. She was emailed a document mapping out the childbirth schedules, with the warning that “selfish behavior will be subject to punishment.” Even when female employees aren’t explicitly told to stick to a schedule, many put off getting pregnant so as not to “cause trouble” at work. Japan’s fertility has been below the replacement rate since 1974, and our population is actually dropping. Businesses in most countries can find ways to accommodate pregnant staff. Why can’t Japan?