Japan ’s Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi , who has said he will take paternity leave in a rare move for a Japanese man, announced on Friday the birth of his first child – a boy. Koizumi, 38, is the son of charismatic former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi and is seen as a future leader himself, according to some opinion polls. On Wednesday he said he was planning to take two weeks of leave over three months, in an effort to become a role model for Japan’s working fathers. But some lawmakers have criticised his interest in taking parental leave, saying he should prioritise his public duty. The telegenic Koizumi, popularly known as Shinjiro to distinguish him from his father, grabbed headlines in the summer of 2019 with news he was marrying Christel Takigawa, 42, a French-Japanese television personality, and that they were expecting a child. Soon after, he was named environment minister . Talking to reporters at the prime minister’s office on Friday, Koizumi said he had come straight from the hospital and had been at his wife’s side for the birth. “As a father I’m really happy that a healthy boy was safely born,” he said. “Both of them are doing well, that’s the most important thing. What a relief.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying to encourage more men to take paternity leave, and for businesses to allow a better work-life balance, as part of his “Womenomics” programme of bolstering women’s employment. While Japan’s parental leave policies are among the world’s most generous, providing men and women with partially paid leave of up to a year, or longer if there is no public child care, just 6 per cent of eligible fathers take child care leave, and most of them for less than a week, according to government data. Is Shinjiro Koizumi being fast-tracked as Japan’s next leader? Koizumi is expected to take a total of two weeks off during the first three months by working fewer hours, telecommuting and having subordinates shoulder some of his workload. The regular working hours of Environment Ministry officials is seven hours and 45 minutes a day, and having two weeks off is equivalent to roughly 110 hours off, according to the ministry. Koizumi acknowledged that he’s heard comments both for and against his decision. “I’ll keep a priority on policy and on managing anything unexpected that comes up, while also carving out time for childcare,” he said. Punished for taking paternity leave, fathers in Japan are fighting back “I don’t really feel like a father yet, but that should come soon. I want to be a father like my dad was,” he was quoted as saying. Shinjiro’s father divorced his mother when she was pregnant with their third son and never remarried. He told the couple when they announced their marriage that everybody “should try matrimony once”.