Three Japanese politicians recently made waves when a video, showing off their newly pregnant forms, was released online. However, the reason the clip quickly garnered international attention wasn’t because the politicians were well-known or even that noteworthy — it was because those featured in the video were men.
That’s right, the “pregnant politicians” in question were all male.
The video, entitled “The Governor is a Pregnant Woman,” is all part of the “Work Life Promotion” campaign recently launched in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi regions of Japan, which aims to encourage men to adopt a better work-life balance. And that starts with sharing in both family time and household chores, as Japanese men are notoriously work-centered and driven. In fact, according to Yahoo, a 2015 study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that nearly 1 out of every 4 Japanese employees works 50 hours a week or more. However, while both men and women are affected by long work days, The Japan Times explains that Japanese men remain the most domestically unhelpful in the world — i.e they only do one hour of unpaid chores a day compared to the average five hours their wives do, according to OECD.
So what better way to remind men to carry more weight at home than to strap them into pregnancy vests and make them literally carry more weight?
And while the video isn’t dubbed or subtitled, the reactions of each man speaks volumes. Their struggles and pains appear universal, and their huffs, puffs, and groans break language barriers (though I admittedly giggled when one of the politicians struggled to put on his socks).
The 3-minute clip shows the politicians being helped into their vests (presumably by their wives) in the morning before heading out for the day. Along the way, they pass people they know and say hello, while holding their bellies protectively and doing their best to pretend like it’s super normal to be donning a fake belly and s set of boobs over their dress shirts and ties.
They make their way down tricky flights of stairs …
Shop for groceries …
And even ride the subway — belly and all.
Make no mistake, a few men wearing pregnancy vests for one single day will probably not change the work life culture for all of Japan; but the lessons these men learned along the way — and are showing others, by this clip going viral — may help make a difference. As Tsugumasa Muraoka, governor of Yamaguchi, father of three, and one of the men featured in the short flick told The Japan Times, the experience certainly gave him some perspective: “Now that I understand what my wife put up with for so many months, I’m full of gratitude,” he reportedly said.
And even if that difference is just one of gratitude, that’s something. After all, empathy’s the perhaps the greatest step a person can make toward change.More On