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Japan: Government Employees Permitted Leave to Accompany Spouses Abroad

(Dec. 24, 2013) At the end of November 2013, the Diet (Japan’s parliament) adopted acts that enable public servants to take leave without pay for up to three years when they reside abroad in order to live with their spouses who are sent overseas by their employers. The government employer can hire a temporary employee to fill in for an employee who takes this type of leave. (Act on Leave for National Government Employees Who Accompany Spouses Abroad, Act No. 78 of 2013; Act on Leave for Diet Employees Who Accompany Spouses Abroad, Act No. 80 of 2013; and Act on Leave for Judges Who Accompany Spouses Abroad, Act No. 91 of 2013.)

According to a survey conducted by Japan’s National Personnel Authority, in the last five years at least 19 public servants have quit their jobs in order to go to abroad, accompanying their spouses (who may or may not have also been public servants). These employees are mainly women, but the new laws do not impose a limit on the benefit by gender. (Kokka komuin no kyugyo 3 nen yonin e, Haigusha no kaigai tenkin doko, [Three Years’ Leave for National Government Employees Approved, for Accompaniment of Spouses Sent Abroad], ASAHI NEWSPAPER (Aug. 19, 2013).)

In June 2013, the Cabinet had decided to propose a measure to keep executive branch employees from leaving their jobs when their spouses are sent abroad. The National Personnel Authority proposed new legislation in August and subsequently drafted legislation that applied to employees of the executive branch of the government. (Regarding the Draft Act on Leave for National Government Employees Who Accompany Spouses Abroad [in Japanese], Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (last visited Dec. 20, 2013).) The legislative and judicial branches of the government had then submitted similar legislation to the Diet. (For the draft texts, see House of Representatives website [in Japanese] (last visited Dec. 20, 2013) [conduct search].)