Japanese politicians wear 'pregnancy' vests to urge men to help at home

Saga Prefecture governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi wears a vest that recreate a woman's breasts and belly at seven months of pregnancy in this handout screen grab.
Saga Prefecture governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi wears a vest that recreate a woman's breasts and belly at seven months of pregnancy in this handout screen grab. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - In Japan, where women do five times as much housework as men, three male politicians have donned "pregnancy" vests in a campaign urging men to help out more at home.

In a video titled "The Governor is a Pregnant Woman", the three men, all governors of south-western prefectures, put on a 7.3 kg vest that simulates a woman who is seven months pregnant.

The video, launched on Tuesday, is the brainchild of the Kyushu Yamaguchi Work Life Promotion Campaign, which hopes to encourage Japan's notoriously workaholic men to adopt a more balanced life and share household chores.

Accompanied by uplifting music, the politicians groan their way up and down stairs, clutch their bellies as they ease themselves into cars and struggle to bend over.

One man tries to pull on his socks and finally gives up in exhaustion. Another is offered a seat on a bus.

"This really drags at your shoulders and back," Shunji Kono, governor of Miyazaki prefecture and a father of three, said about wearing the vest.

Japanese men were the most unhelpful in the world, a 2014 OECD survey found, doing only one hour of unpaid chores a day compared to five hours for their wives.

"I really didn't understand," said Tsugumasa Muraoka, governor of Yamaguchi and a father of three.

"Now that I understand what my wife put up with for so many months, I'm full of gratitude."