Canada vs Japan (part 2)
Written by Natsumi Matsumoto, an intern at Lloyds Travel, from Japan
Here are my continued thoughts about the differences between Canada and Japan…
The most important difference that stood out to me is how people in Canada manage their work-life balance.
I first noticed this difference during the Easter party held in my host mother’s family. The whole family and their friends gathered together for the party. Children enjoyed egg hunting, parents enjoyed hiding treats, and we ate big cakes together. This doesn’t happen in Japan. Fathers aren’t often able to join in with the celebrations because they have to go to work.
Why don’t Japanese workers use vacation days?
On average, Japanese workers use just 50 % of their entitled annual leave, amounting to just 8.8 days a year, according to the health ministry. To be hireable at your next job you need to show that you’ve used as few vacation days as possible. It is regarded as earnest if you do not use vacation days. There is a Japanese mind culture that people who work hard are faithful, worthy to hire, do a good job and will help represent the high Japanese standards known throughout the world.
Maternity & Parental Leave
In Japan, maternity and parental leave give parents the option of taking up to 12 months off work, with salary subsidized by the government. Under special circumstances this can be extended to 18 months. This leave can be shared between mother and father, though only 3% of Japanese men opt to take parental leave.
In Canada, maternity and parental leave give you a combined total of up to 18 months off, with salary subsidized by the government. More and more men are choosing to share this time with their spouse. Approximately 26% of men taking some leave. Moreover, a person’s job is protected by the government when they are pregnant or on leave – it is illegal in Canada to discriminate due to pregnancy.
Japan has been struggling with low birth rates. In recent years the government has tried to incentivise couples to have more children. But at the same time, women have made advances in society during recent years. This sees them working more and taking less leave. Consequently, the demand for daycare has been increasing, and unfortunately the government hasn’t been prepared. Problems now occur where women cannot get a childcare spot for their child and are unwillingly forced to leave their work. Additionally, it is not uncommon for women in Japan to experience “maternity harassment”. This is where the company chooses to fire, demote, or assign the employee to other places because of their pregnancy. These problems are huge hurdles in an employee’s struggle to balance work with their personal life.
What do you think? If you’ve travelled to Japan, what differences stood out to you?