Japanese firms offer bigger allowances for men on childcare leave

Japanese companies are offering cash incentives to encourage more male workers to take childcare leave.

Japan's largest brokerage Nomura Securities says it will offer special allowances to all employees who take childcare leave of one month or longer, starting next month.

The amount of compensation will be equivalent to 10 percent of their annual basic wage.

The company says only 12 percent of its male workers took time off to look after newborns in the last fiscal year. Many opted for a five-day paid leave to minimize the impact on their paychecks and jobs.

Kamijima Motohiro of Nomura Holdings said "We want to promote the growth and life skills of our employees through childcare leave. We believe it's very important for them to take longer term leave -- more than a month."

Property company Daiwa Lease expanded its system in April to reward workers taking time off to take care of their children.

Male employees are eligible for allowances of up to 1 million yen, or 6,800 dollars, depending on the duration of their leave. The benefit also applies to female workers whose husbands take time off to look after their children.

A survey by Japan's health ministry found that 17 percent of eligible working men took childcare leave in the last fiscal year. That figure is only about a third of the government's goal of 50 percent by 2025.