Yuka Ogata, one of the few women in the Kumamoto municipal assembly in southwestern Japan, petitioned the council last year to let her breast-feed during sessions. Her request was rejected. She then asked for day care to be provided and was denied again. So, at one session last November, Ogata carried her 7-month-old son into the chamber and held him on her lap. Her male counterparts reacted angrily, forcing mother and son to leave, a display so common that Japanese even have a name for it: matahara, or maternity harassment. “I wanted to represent all of the parents who are struggling to raise children in Japan,” Ogata wrote later in a column for The Guardian newspaper. “It is time for the Japanese workplace to change to accommodate the needs of working parents.”
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