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Tokyo dads have less playtime with their kids: Survey

TOKYO - Tokyo fathers spend less time playing with their children and pitching in with the housework than dads in other big Asian cities because they work such long hours, according to a Japanese survey.

Among Tokyo fathers, only 37 per cent spend at least two hours a day with their children on weekdays, compared with 50 per cent for fathers in Seoul and about 75 per cent of Beijing and Shanghai dads, the survey by education services provider Benesse showed.

Fathers in Tokyo also come home from work much later than their Asian counterparts. About 40 per cent get in the door after 9pm, versus 29 per cent in Seoul and a low 3 per cent in the Chinese cities.

Japanese society has traditionally put much emphasis on hard work, but many say the corporate culture of long days at the office contributes to the country's low birth rate.

Japan's population declined last year for the second straight year and is set to shrink by one-third in 50 years if current trends continue. 'Japan needs a social structure that makes it easier for fathers to return home from work a little earlier and participate in raising their children and doing housework,' Mr Noboru Kobayashi, head of Benesse's research arm, said in a report on the survey.

Around 45 per cent of fathers in Tokyo said they almost never do any housework, while only 4.4 per cent help clean the house daily, the survey showed. In Beijing and Shanghai, around 20 per cent said they do housework nearly every day.

On the flip side, Tokyo dads make up for weekday absences during the weekends, when 52 per cent spend at least 10 hours a day with their children, versus 48 per cent for Seoul and 34 and 31 per cent for Beijing and Shanghai respectively.

Benesse conducted the online survey in Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai in March and in Tokyo in August last year.The results are based on responses from 6,250 fathers with children aged five and under.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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