TOKYO -- Waves of day care closures caused by the coronavirus outbreak have disproportionally affected working mothers, especially those in their 30s. The pandemic has made Japan's gender gap in child care, already much wider than those in the U.S. and Europe, worse by forcing more women to stay home to take care of their children. Many experts worry that unless this gap is corrected, labor participation by women will stall, worsening the country's labor shortage.
"I can't work because I'm so busy taking care of my kid," said a woman in Kawasaki, near Tokyo. She began to work from home after the nursery school her 5-year-old attends was closed due to the pandemic in February. She said she must work overtime after putting her child to bed, and her husband is no use. "The only help I get is from video games and YouTube," she said.