Local Japanese politician Yuka Ogata caused controversy when she brought her seven-month-old son to work this Wednesday, the BBC reports.
The mum said she brought her baby to the municipal assembly plenary session because she wanted to show how difficult it is to be a working mother.
It was her first time going to a session after she gave birth to her son seven months ago.
Municipal assembly officials were not happy with the unexpected guest, citing the assembly’s rules that visitors or observers are prohibited when a meeting is in session.
The assembly does not have any explicit rules against bringing in infants.
The session started 40 minutes late due to the dispute, and in the end, Yuka had to leave her child with a friend.
The council has promised to look at her case in order to find ways to make law-making compatible with raising young children.
"We would like to work on a system where assembly members can participate in meetings with their children," speaker Yoshitomo Sawada said, according to the Mainichi newspaper.
The mum said that she had asked the council secretariat multiple times if she could either bring her son in with her or they would provide a crèche.
She said to the Mainichi, "I wanted the assembly to be a place where women who are raising children can also do a great job.”
The council secretariat claimed that Yuka had only relayed "anxiety about being separated from the child for a long time", but not actually asked if she could bring her son in.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been working to address the issues that mothers face when they return from maternity leave, yet the inequality between men and women in Japan is still palpable.
Japanese society is still very conservative and patriarchal in many ways.
Japan ranks 114th out of 144 countries in the World’s Economic Forum’s global gender equality rankings for 2017. That makes it the lowest-standing of the Group of Seven major economies in terms of equal pay. The other countries in the Group of Seven are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., and the U.S.
Go, Yuka, for standing up for working mums!
Have you ever experienced something similar at work? Are we any better at how we treat mums returning from maternity leave?