Former SMAP member Shingo Katori stars as the line’s mascot. Photo: FamilyMart

High school students create petition to change the name of FamilyMart’s 'Mom’s Diner' line

By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

As you probably know by now, Japanese society, like many others in the world, is still working on attaining gender equality. In Japanese homes, for example, married women continue to feel like they are shouldering the burden of cooking and cleaning of a household alone, even when both partners work full time.

With the issue repeatedly coming to light in various surveys and television programs, it’s become a hot enough topic in society that even Japanese youth seem to be taking notice, and they’re not letting it slide. In a recent petition, Japanese high school students asked convenience store giant FamilyMart to change the name of their ready-made food line “Mom’s Diner”.

(To clarify, “Mom’s Diner” is written as “お母さん食堂 (Okaasan Shokudo)” in Japanese, in case there are any linguists among us. For those who can’t speak Japanese, “お母さん (okaasan)” is the casual way to refer to one’s own mother, while, “食堂 (shokudo)” can range in meaning from restaurant to cafeteria, dining hall, diner, and a few other similar translations. Since there does not appear to be an official English name for the line, we’ll translate it as the more-or-less neutral “Mom’s Diner”.)

The “Mom’s Diner” line includes prepared meals like gratin, oden, and soup; meal sides like salads and cooked vegetables; and fully cooked meats and fish, all either frozen or refrigerated for easy consumption. The concept behind it is that they make “home-cooked food”, presumably like that made by your mother, easy to eat at any time, without having to cook it yourself.

But the name of the line has an inherent gender bias in it, which high school students from Hyogo, Kyoto, and Okayama prefectures in western Japan took issue with. That’s why they created a petition titled, “We want to change the name of FamilyMart’s ‘Mom’s Diner’!!!”

In the description of the petition, the students wrote that they recently had an opportunity to learn about gender and gender equality, and learned that the idea that “Men should work, and women do the housework” is still prevalent in Japan, despite more women working today than ever before.

“In order to change these stereotypes and values based on sex, so that we can create a society where everyone thrives, we’d like to ask for your help,” they wrote. The students lined up a logical and clear argument against the name, supported with facts and statistics. Their main argument was that the title “Mom’s Diner” has the connotation that it’s the mom’s job to do the cooking and housework, and that this could contribute to a deepening of society’s unconscious bias that men should work and women should do housework. With product names like this, they argue, unconscious bias could be passed on to children, who will grow to follow the same patterns in an endless cycle of divided gender roles.

At the end of their explanation, the students penned an open letter directly to FamilyMart:

"We are aware that there are many brands in the world besides ‘Mom’s Diner’ that promote this kind of unconscious bias.  However, we feel that if such a large company were to change such a problematic name, it would be very influential, and that’s why we created this project.

If you consider the great influence that a product name like this has on people’s values, you might be able to fix one of the reasons why we can’t achieve gender equality. We would be happy if you would consider changing the name of ‘Mom’s Diner’, in order to make our society better for everyone. 

Rather than coming up with our own ideas of what the new name should be, we decided it would be better to tell you why the current name is wrong. Please give us the opportunity to explain our thoughts to you.

Thank you for your consideration.”

According to the Girl Scouts of Japan, who helped organize the petition, the students involved started their activism in the summer of 2019, after participating in a Girl Scouts program that sparked their interest in the cause. The students started the petition in October, and by the time it closed on December 31, it had collected 7,576 signatures. However, most of the signatures happened within the last week, indicating that the movement only gained momentum at the end and could have acquired many more. Many comments on the petition were supportive, and shared further reasons why the name of the line is damaging, including lack of consideration for children without mothers, and that men who cook are ignored by this kind of gendered naming.

As of yet, there hasn’t been any news about a response from FamilyMart. Hopefully the petition resonates with the executives at the major convenience store chain, and we’ll see the name change to something a little more gender-neutral in the future.

Source: via OVO via Yahoo! News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Tokyo women’s university will accept transgender students who identify as female, a Japan first

-- Survey says more than 70 percent of Japanese people think gender inequality exists in Japan

-- What’s the best way to close the gender gap in Japan? Japanese women weigh in

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Good on them. Change has to start somewhere.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Interesting that nobody seems to be complaining that the Mom in the picture is actually a guy, Kattori Shingo (who I actually like). Well, he recorded a song called "Shingo Mama" a few years ago, so maybe that's why.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No, we must never say anything about statistical facts and allow anyone to think for themselves

The thought police will put everyone in jail for wrongthink

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If they don't like お母さん食堂, what do they suggest instead?

Easy to carp and find fault, not so easy to come up with a snappy, easy-to-remember, easy-to understand bit of copy.

nobody seems to be complaining that the Mom in the picture is actually a guy, 

Seems to me the choice of Shingo-chan as お母さん rather deflates the students' argument; Mom is a bloke!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

We need more youngsters like them!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yet the petition is organized by the "Girl Scouts", do they make the gender differentiation with the boys group? Maybe not only in the name but also within their activities.

I'm far from knowing much about that organization, but a mixed "Scouts" group would be an interesting concept for year 2021.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

In a few years I wonder how many of them will be wanting to marry a rich guy so they don't have to work?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Just borrow the language that has been used generally to encourage people to Stay Home during the pandemic.




2 ( +2 / -0 )

FamilyMart have clearly labeled it this way to elicit nostalgic feelings of good home cooking. Ironticially if you asked any of those who signed the petition who does the majority of cooking at their individual homes, statiscally in Japan this would be a mother or grandmother.

Until they can 'put up or shut up' and suggest a suitable alternative, I'm not giving this a second throught and nor should FamilyMart.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is kids learning to think and take action for themselves. Nothing wrong with it.

I don’t agree with the argument that merely changing a name will make society a better place. Should, by extension, all restaurants with women’s names be changed? Perhaps women should be forbidden from appearing in cooking shows.

It’s the right sentiment with the wrong-headed approach. Still as long as it doesn’t become a “let’s cancel Family Mart” thing, I don’t see anything wrong with the petition.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Anything that comes from a Japanese convenience store is certainly nothing like what mother used to make. They're full of additives, preservatives, colouring, sugar, etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

お母さん食堂 (Okaasan Shokudo) may also have a positive gender bias, as a place where one can receive "Mom's great cooking, . . . ."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

a place where one can receive "Mom's great cooking, . . . ."

of course, that’s the original message.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites