February 7, 2000

The Right Honourable Tony Blair
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and
Minister for the Civil Service of the United Kingdom

Dear Prime Minister :

We run a group called "Child Care Hours for Men and Women Network" in Japan. We hope that you will permit us to take up some of your valuable time and read this letter from the other side of the world.

The news of the pregnancy of your partner, Ms Cherie Blair, was widely reported in Japan and throughout Asia. Thus we would like to take this opportunity to wish and pray for the safe arrival of this new life along with the good health and happiness of you and all your family.

A series of news stories in our country has mentioned the fact that you cherish your family life endeavouring to share the responsibilities of housework and child care with your wife. Also your government recently passed a law which guarantees child care leave for both men and women. We therefore came up with the idea of writing you in the hope that you too will consider taking child care leave yourself.

If someone such as yourself - of the calibre of British Prime Minister - chose to take child care leave, you would set a path for people all over the world. Such an act would be a great incentive for all men who would like to do the same but cannot, as well as being an encouragement for their partners. More than anything, it will be a great hope for workers in many countries, married or otherwise, who struggle with the double burden of child care and work. In addition, we believe that it is a great opportunity to embody the spirit of ILO convention C-156 which guarantees the right of workers to fulfill their family responsibilities.

Given the nature of your job, we fully understand that your child care leave could not be for a long period of time. Nonetheless, we dearly hope that by taking any such leave, you could show people in the world that it is possible for both men and women to work and take care of children at the same time.

We are also aware that we should be making such a request to the leader of our own country. Unfortunately, we have not had any political leaders who are young enough to have small children during their political careers for the past several decades. Neither have we been blessed with politicians who advocate the virtue of sharing housework and child care, exemplifying the idea with their own family. The members of our organization, including those who took long term child care leave or child care hours hoping to fulfill both professional and family responsibilities, lament this fact. We thus envy and pay our respect to your country and its people for having chosen a leader who gives us all such hope.

We are conscious of the fact that we may be seen to be interfering in what is essentially a personal matter - for that please accept our deepest apologies. Nonetheless we hope that you can give our request some serious consideration.

Respectfully Yours,

Child Care Hours for Men and Women Network
Mutsumi Ohta (contact person)
telephone/fax: +81-44-955-6807
mail: c/o Masayoshi Ogoshi
3-8-8-203, Takamatsu, Toshima-ku
Tokyo 171-0042, Japan