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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 23, Working Style Reforms
In Japan, work style reforms to improve work-life balance are a hot topic.
In this lesson, we'll learn about this news story.

Lesson focus

Working style reforms are one of the efforts of the Abe Administration to realize the "100 million active society."
According to the homepage of the official residence website, the "100 million active society" is defined as a full-participation model that can be participated in by anyone in any place, such as home, workplace, region, etc., regardless of gender, age, mental and physical condition, social status, etc.
One concrete effort to realize such a society is through working style reforms.
The decrease in the labor force, which is the productive age population, is one of the urgent issues that Japan must address. If the labor force declines, the GDP will surely decrease. Even so, for governments with excessive debt, decline in the GDP is a matter of certain death for the state. So, the Abe administration launched the working style reforms as a solution to the problem.
By asking women and elderly people, who are not taking part in the labor market, to participate, the current productive age population decrease can be suppressed. By increasing the birthrate, the future productive population can be secured.
Also, improving productivity through technological innovations, such as IT and AI, is the outline of work style reforms. However, that is not so easily accomplished.
Although the phrases "gender equality participation" and "work life balance" have been heard for a long time, women's social advancement and male participation in child rearing are not as advanced as the word penetration.
The problem of childcare waiting lists is hardly solved. Responses like "I couldn't get my kid into nursery school. Japan can go screw itself." Or, "I can't take an active role, can I?" are telling of the difficulty of women working while raising children.
On one hand, a man who is active in raising children is called an ikumen, but on the other hand, men in Japan are still very reluctant to take care of children so such expressions are made much of.
Cultural practices, such as traditional family views and gender roles, where men work for families and women take care of children and protect their families, are still persistent in Japan.
In other words, work style reforms are not limited to policies such as countermeasures against the declining birthrate or against the childcare waiting lists, but also have difficulties to transform deeply Japanese labor practices and cultural values.


Those are the key facts about the social issues affecting work culture reforms.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!