The Japanese government wants women to work more and have more children, but it lacks concrete plans of how to do so. To begin with, there is a drastic need to increase government-funded care for children of all ages. In Japanese elementary schools, a lot of the activities and meetings fall in the middle of a weekday, and while public afterschool care does exist, in many places it is only for children up through third grade.
To truly support families and encourage people to have kids in the first place, both women and men should be encouraged to leave work earlier and take paid leave. As long as this issue is not properly addressed, then nothing is really going to change.
And the current taxation and social insurance system in Japan also discourages women from joining the workforce. The system is set up to support the full-time “salaryman” and dependent spouse model. Simply put, this means that only a family in which one dependent person earns no more than about ¥83,000 a month is entitled to health insurance and pension benefits. This alone is one of the major reasons why many women choose to opt for part-time jobs.