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Male Politicians in Japan Wore Pregnancy Vests

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Three male Japanese governors donned pregnancy vests to urge the country’s men to carry more of the weight at home.

A 2014 study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that Japanese women do about five hours of housework a day, while Japanese men only do one hour a day. The country has also been criticized for not accommodating working mothers, with nearly 70% of women leaving the workforce after giving birth to their first child. So, three Japanese governors partnered with Kyushu Yamaguchi Work Life Promotion Campaign to produce a video to encourage Japanese men to help out their wives at home.

In the video, Miyazaki Prefecture Governor Shunji Kōno, Yamaguchi Prefecture Governor Tsugumasa Muraoka and Saga Prefecture Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi wear 7.3 kg pregnancy vests meant to simulate a pregnancy in the third trimester, and struggle with ordinary tasks, like putting on socks and carrying groceries home. The video ends with a message encouraging the country’s men to adopt a more sustainable work-life balance.

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“I really didn’t understand,” Muraoka said in the video, according to the Japan Times. “Now that I understand what my wife put up with for so many months, I’m full of gratitude.”

But of course, many Japanese mothers say the country needs to do more to improve their conditions. Earlier this year, Japanese women publicly called on the country’s prime minister to improve the country’s strained public daycare system, which was plagued with long waitlists that prevented mothers from securing spots for their children so they could return to work. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then pledged to makea number of changes aimed at improving the country’s daycare system.

[The Japan Times]


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Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com