TOKYO — When she was pregnant with the first of her three sons, Chiaki Kitajima, an advertising executive here, said her bosses were shocked that rather than accept reduced hours and a demotion after maternity leave, she made a presentation on why the company should subsidize child care.
“I had to fight to convince them that supporting me was a good investment,” she said. Ms.
Kitajima, 47, is now the creative director of her advertising agency
but says mothers at her professional level remain rare.
The Japanese prime minister would like to change that. And he
has a fix for his country’s troubled economy: the supermom.
These days, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been encouraging
Japanese women to have it all. A rewarding career. Children,
preferably more than one.
In a country where juggling work and family has long been
especially difficult, Mr. Abe has pledged to ease the way for
women like Ms. Kitajima, with more state-funded child care
and other measures to foster “a society where all women shine.”
Tackling the nation’s shrinking population and declining labor
force by encouraging working women is part of his broader effort
to re-energize the economy, which is looking especially unsteady
after Japan unexpectedly fell into a recession last quarter."