Corporate Policy, Male Breadwinners and their Family Caregiving in Ageing Japan

Care provision in industrialized countries has been commonly considered women’s work. Yet we now see a rapidly emerging group of carers, men who combine parental caregiving with their employment, thereby exposing themselves to the same life-course and health risks so well-documented for working women who provide care. In Japan, the quitting of employment due to family care by 100,000 workers annually triggered a 2015 government initiative aimed at reforming work to make work and care compatible.

This research offers a multi-level understanding of the initiatives of the government, the Japanese Business Federation, and large firms to roll-out family care policy. We juxtaposed these views with the perspectives of employed male family carers based on ethnographic fieldwork. We carried out interviews with employers, the Japanese Business Federation and other stakeholders, and qualitative in-depth narrative interviews with men involved in care, complemented by participant observation. We provide ethnographic evidence portraying diverse ways in which our informants engaged with care for aged relatives given their employment context, and their cultural meaning of care provision.