UNICEF says Japan offers generous childcare leave for fathers, but very few use it. The UN body says the country's labor shortage and workplace culture is to blame.
The United Nations Children's Fund released a report on Thursday on "family-friendly policies" in 41 industrialized countries.
It says only half the countries offer mothers paid childcare leave for at least 6 months. Among countries that offer paternal leave, relatively few fathers take advantage of the programs.
The report says Japan offers the longest paid leave for fathers, but only one out of 20 in 2017 took advantage of it.
It says the number is extremely low compared with South Korea, where one out of every 6 fathers took the time off.
It says Japanese fathers cited understaffing and an "unfavorable atmosphere" at work, among the reasons for not using the leave.
The UNICEF report says family bonds are strengthened when fathers take childcare leave. It also eases the burden on mothers and helps promote gender equality.
The UN agency is calling on countries to improve their family-friendly policies.