The fact that eSOL has developed a complete technical revolution in a very traditional market is not only due to the experience and playfulness of its developers. The whole company is constantly evolving on all levels because established solutions always fit their problem efficiently only for a certain time and new problems gain urgency.
Already 10 years ago, eSOL was one of the first companies in Japan to start work style innovation which actively supports young parents among its employees as a result.
According to an OECD study (link, updated: September 2022, page 7), Japan has the best fatherhood regulations in the world. Fathers can take up to the equivalent of 32 full-pay weeks of paternity leave in one piece or up to 4 pieces. In Germany, on the other hand, there are only 9 equivalent fully paid work weeks.
But even the best laws have to be implemented. In contrast to other companies, eSOL has not torpedoed the law by indirect company internal countermeasures, but its human resource department has always actively offered paternity leave in consultation with the entire management.
As a result of this practice, 75% of eSOL fathers are already taking parental leave.
In the end, it is always important not only to create good standards but also to actively put them into practice.
At eSOL, this happens both in the development of technical products and in, or precisely because of, modern employee development.
This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Parental leave reform seems to open up completely new opportunities for Japanese men.
I don’t know if I’m particularly good at it, but when I’m at home, I always give the baby a bath.
Izutaro Takakura, an employee of a software company in Tokyo has to laugh a little himself as he tells this.
Japanese men are not usually much help around the house. Leaving the bathroom in is a good start, but this anecdote already says a lot about the status quo in Japanese society. Men go to work, bring home the money, and women take care of the household and children. Japan is still a very conservative country. Only 14% of men for whom it is an option took parental leave last year.
It’s just not hip to take that long off, explained Hidetoshi Hironaka, an expert on parental leave.
There’s a generational conflict brewing. Those who are now over 50 haven’t taken parental leave themselves and often reject it. But for Generation Z, young people under 25, it’s a given.
So things are happening, and that’s exactly the government’s intention. It has to act because Japan has a demographic problem. Soon one in three people will be over 65, the age of society in no other country, and having children must become more attractive. The new parental leave regulations are intended to offer new incentives. The existing regulations are already very attractive. According to an OECD report, men are entitled to almost 32 weeks of paternity leave with full pay. By comparison, in Germany, the total is just under 6 weeks.
The Japanese system is the best in the world,
according to UNICEF. But in Japan, not many people know that. The government should provide better information here.
Maybe the bad reputation of the actually good Japanese system is also due to the name?
The Japanese word for parental leave contains the character of having time off, which has negative cultural connotations and leads to rejection by many.
With the reform, the ball will be in the companies’ court in the future; they will have to actively inform their employees about the possibilities of parental leave, otherwise, they will end up on a kind of blacklist.
The company eSOL, a software company, doesn’t have to worry about that. They started promoting parental leave 10 years ago, explains HR manager Ayako Sawada.
One reason why it doesn’t work so well in other companies is certainly that these companies are not united behind parental leave. In our case, the managing director has always clearly promoted parental leave. This has led to our good figures.
75% of new fathers at eSOL already take parental leave, and now it's even more attractive for them. They can take parental leave up to four times a year for several weeks, so they are even more flexible than before, and can then take time off to spend with their families when things aren't so busy.
So the chance, even for Izutaro Takakura, to get a little more involved in the household than before.
Thorsten Iffland, Tokyo from the ARD Studio Tokyo
Marketing Communications Team