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Divorce among elderly couples surging

89 Comments

Sachiko’s husband retired at 60. She was 57, their two children were grown; after 35 years of marriage they were free. They’d spend quiet days together at home, dine out sometimes, travel abroad occasionally. Growing old isn’t so bad after all. So Sachiko had been musing to herself when her husband abruptly broke in on her thoughts: “Let’s divorce.”

Was he joking? He was not. He’d already worked out the details, and now handed her a written plan for dividing the assets. It was reasonable and fair. Her financial security would be assured.

Once upon a time, so the legend goes, marriage was stable, if not always (or often) happy. Then Japanese began thinking more of themselves and less of the collective – in this case, the family. Divorce surged in the 1990s. It peaked around 2002, then gradually declined. The latest available welfare ministry figures record 222,104 divorces in 2014, down 9,279 from 2013.

Meanwhile, reports Josei Jishin (April 19), one particular category of divorce is surging – divorce among the elderly. In 2014 there were 36,800 of those – up 70% over the past 25 years. And more and more of them are at the husband’s instigation – 40% lately, up from 20% a decade ago.

"Over the past four or five years I’m seeing more women who’ve been cast off by their husbands,” says divorce counselor Atsuko Ogano. “There’s the usual story about him wanting to live with his girlfriend, but it’s not only that. Lately it’s often a question of the husband being fed up with the wife’s attitudes toward life.”

Sachiko, one of Ogano’s clients, is a case in point. As her husband saw her she was a full-time housewife who did no housework. The house was a mess, the cooking a matter of slapping together pre-prepared supermarket fare.

To Sachiko, the blow came out of the blue, but Ogano says there were warning signs Sachiko failed to heed, or misread. His silence, for instance. If he was unhappy he would have complained, right? Wrong. Silence speaks louder than complaints. A complaining husband thinks the problems are soluble. A silent husband has given up. He stayed away as much as possible, ate out whenever convenient, and put up with things at home until he thought, “I’m not getting any younger – why not take the plunge?” He moved back with his parents. It seems rather late in life for that, but maybe he has something else in mind for the near future.

Josei Jishin, telling us nothing further about Sachiko’s deeper feelings, moves on to Kayoko, who now at 50, with a daughter of 18, has had to board with relatives, her husband having abandoned her in the family home with the loan not paid off.

They’d coasted more or less smoothly through the ups and downs of married life when suddenly a bitter quarrel broke out. Furious, Kayoko burs out, “I want a divorce!”

It seemed to be just what her husband was waiting for. He walked out without a word and hasn’t been heard from since. When bank officials came to threaten repossession of the house unless the loan was taken care of, Kayoko, a full-time housewife with no independent income and no work experience, made her plans accordingly, which hopefully are longer-term than the magazine’s account suggests.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

89 Comments
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No kidding, surprised it hasn't happened sooner in these cases. Probably an arranged marriage, sex only until the kids were born, no love, no communication, neither really understanding, or taking the time to make it work, can't blame either side.

Getting married is very easy here, just a couple in inkan's on a flimsy sheet of paper, same with a divorce.

Staying married takes work.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

I see part of the problem/reason on Friday and Saturday nights in Hachioji. Older men, dressed up, hair slicked back, carrying their man purses, heading for the "entertainment district" near the station.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Sometimes I wonder if my in laws will get divorced. They're not unhappily married, but they sleep in separate rooms. My MIL is a hoarder - not a casual one, but a room to room, floor to ceiling, barely-can-walk-through-the-house hoarder. Rotting food in the kitchen from where she's bought dozens of the same items and never used them, the auxilery kitchen is filled to the brim with pet bottles and newspapers. Once I tried to clean up a bit and I found a pet bottle from 97 and a newspaper from the late 80's. They actually had to buy a separate mansion now that FIL is retired because they spend more time at home and you can almost not move when you're there. Every time my husband or his sister try to have a sit down convo with her about dealing with it, even offering her to clean it up, it's met with an emotional meltdown and a refusal to get counseling... regardless of the manner in which it's brought up. While I think his parents really do love one another, I'm not sure if FIL will be able to handle it going on like this, especially since MIL is showing early signs of Alzheimer's. My husband is working abroad most of the year, I have young children and sister in law lives far away. FIL is a good man but I'm not sure, as the situation worsens, that it won't break him. I imagine a lot of people get divorced here when they literally can't take it anymore. Society's pressure to show a happy marriage face here is so strong that it would have to be something pretty strong to make people call it quits.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

A complaining husband thinks the problems are soluble. A silent husband has given up.

Bingo.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

Black Sabbath.

Bingo.

Have you ever been married to a Japanese? Japanese women, the most stubborn females on this earth who always think there right no matter what and will never change their ways, no matter how right the complaint.

13 ( +20 / -8 )

Have you ever been married to a Japanese? Japanese women, the most stubborn females on this earth who always think there right no matter what and will never change their ways, no matter how right the complaint.

FYI, from what I have heard it isnt just Japanese women that have this affliction. Dont forget it takes two.

I've been married to a Japanese woman for 30 years, there are days we can not stand the site of each other, BUT we still love each other. Talking doesnt work in a relationship, communication is the key. It's ok not to like each other all the time, in any relationship there are ups and downs, but if you can separate "like" and "love" you really can make things work.

Oh and people who truly love each other, don't screw around, and don't wait around expecting anything from the other person.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

savethegaijin, does your MIL go to the doctor for any other reason? With the doctor's cooperation you could tack some cognitive testing onto an existing appointment or have them tell her to go to another facility to be tested. Earlier is better, for both testing and start of Aricept or another drug.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japanese women, the most stubborn females on this earth who always think there right no matter what and will never change their ways, no matter how right the complaint.

Pretty broad statement there.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Everything has a use by date. Our,s used by date was 30 years. Once our daughter was independent and owned her own home, there was no real interest between us. We try living together but my ex was unsure about ever start a relationship while we were living together. I realise this and we decide to separate and in the end we divorce. I arranged all the paper work ( No Lawyers) and sent it to her and that was it we got divorced. I have not seen her since except at funerals. Everything we own is still in both names. I still have the joint bank accounts in our names after 8 years. We are not bitter about it. We know if we ever either needs help we can still confer sensibly with each other.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@savethegaijin

Great comment. What you wrote resonated with me because I could have written exactly what you wrote about my own grandparents decades ago, except they had a giant American house with every room, attic and basement filled top to bottom.

No, they never got divorced, and everyone tried to get rid of junk over the years, but that was always met with never-forgotten animosity and paranoia on her part. She was very attached to her stuff, and it got worse as she grew older.

My grandfather just put up with it day in and day out, and escaped to his mini farm/orchard whenever the pressure got to be overwhelming. To this day I still have surreal adventurous dreams about exploring their house.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Divorce needs more powerful than marriage. I do not want to for future our grand-children... We should discuss and discuss each other. Even if marriage is just being exchanged a paper with each stamp, spending time will make our relationship more strengthen.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I can understand elderly divorce. For people who get married in their 20s and 30s, by the time they get to an elderly age, they are very different people than the people they were when they got married. If they've raised kids and their kids are grown, then what may have been one of the main reasons behind their marriage is a non-issue. Some people may prefer to find someone else that they are more suited to at the age they have become, and/or some may just want to be alone rather than having to deal with someone for whom they have no affection or attraction anymore. I don't see why they should have to push through this for society's sake. We only have one life, best to live it how we want. There are no do-overs.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Gary Rayno.

Have you ever been married to a Japanese?

Yes, and still am. For two decades now.

Japanese women, the most stubborn females on this earth who always think there right no matter what and will never change their ways, no matter how right the complaint.

This is not my experience, nor the experience of the American men I know who have married Japanese women. Most importantly, it is not the experience of the Japanese I know, and their marriages.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Pretty broad statement there.

And pretty much spot on.

Marriage, as it stands in Japan, seems to be more of an economic arrangement than anything else. I am sure there are people who actually do love each other, but I haven't met any such Japanese yet. Eveything here is so practical and useful and predetermined it bores the hell out of me. I had a co-worker who used to say he didn't meet his wife that often, and that's why they were still married. Pretty tragic, but also understandable. No spontaneity, no communication, mothers siding with their kids, focusing 100% on them and 0% on husbands make for a less than stellar marriage.

I suspect that when the time comes, and you don't have anyplace to go everyday, forced to spend time with your loveless partner, it all comes down.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

And pretty much spot on.

Not in my experience.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"Giving up" and family don't go hand in hand. In my dictionary, you DO NOT give up on family, no matter what.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

"Giving up" and family don't go hand in hand. In my dictionary, you DO NOT give up on family, no matter what.

Really? So people with abusive partners should grin and bear it? Those who have been cheated on? Those who have simply grown apart and don't like each other anymore should stay together for... what exactly?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

As her husband saw her she was a full-time housewife who did no housework. The house was a mess, the cooking a matter of slapping together pre-prepared supermarket fare.

I have heard this comment time and time again from men here - Japanese, foreigners, younger, older... Decades ago it made sense to have someone at home who was looking after the kids, house, making things from scratch, taking all day to do chores.... The modern world has made women staying at home full time after the kids have started school an issue for hard working men who are wondering why on earth they are busting their butts at the office while wifey goes and takes hulu, cooking classes and enjoys lunch with friends. I know plenty of men who would love to divorce their wives as they don't really love them - that's what happens when you have a shotgun marriage in many cases - but stay due to the kids and feeling obligated to stay with the mother of their child until the kids go to university. I can only see this type of divorce increasing in the future and I don't blame the men for being fed up with it all. Of course, not all stay at home wives are like this but I do feel that many are like this.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I think somewhere "MONEY" /finance is also a key factor. Less than needed or more than expense is bad for marriage. Having the right amount should help to make the bond stronger.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm telling you now, if the women were guaranteed financial security upon signing the divorce papers (be it alimony, settlement or other ongoing payments), the divorce rate here would be record-breaking. A large percentage of wives (either by choice or other unavoidable circumstances) do not work, thus rendering them financially dependent. It's a totally messed up state of affairs, and I don't think there's any one solution. Extra-marital affairs pass as everyday conversation here, so where do we begin?

Back home (Australia), older-age divorce is much more common because women have a certain degree of financial security. Single income households are rare, and the women is automatically guaranteed at least 50% of cash / assets in the divorce proceedings (75% if the couple have a child under the age of 18, I believe).

Give couples here the legal freedoms & support to do what they so desperately want to do!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I think somewhere "MONEY" /finance is also a key factor. Less than needed or more than expense is bad for marriage. Having the right amount should help to make the bond stronger.

It IS the key factor. Many unhappy women here won't get divorced because they would lose their cash cow and actually have to go and get a FT job. Many working men want a mommy to wash their clothes and cook dinner. When the husband isn't working anymore, they can do that themselves.

The pay rate for FT working women is often horrible. Why? Because so many women here don't want FT jobs and would rather stay in an unhappy marriage and work PT, not pay pension and health care, get spouse benefits and only work a few times a week as a way to kill boredom. Why would any company hire a woman FT and pay her pension and a living wage when they can hire a few PT women instead? One can't seperate the issue of crappy pay for FT working women and the spouse benefits in this country. Just as one can't talk about the sexism women face in Japan Inc without looking at the sexism men face here. The thing is, many do.

Sighclops, excellent post.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

My J wifes uncle moved into another house 6 months back due to them not seeing eye to eye on almost everything, his wife didnt seem to mind as the kids have long since grown and gone. Now he wants to move back in..when i ask him why (in front of family) he said he cant cook or take care of himself or a home so want to move back in. He said it with a straight face, i nearly fell over.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

"Then Japanese began thinking more of themselves and less of the collective – in this case, the family."

I think this line is quite telling; the idea that if you divorce you are 'selfish' and not 'self-sacrificing' enough. Sorry, but my parents divorced when I was a kid and I cannot IMAGINE them ever being together. At some point they just began to hate each other, and when they started fighting every single night, throwing stuff at each other, with the kids scared as hell, they decided to let it go, and trust me when I say it was 'for the family' that they were thinking, and not so much of themselves. For there would have nothing worse than continuing in that hell.

So, if it is indeed better, and all will be happier, if they split off, I'm all for it. Hopefully both are taken care of and no one suffers, but unfortunately, as in the latter case it happens that some are worse off after, and one or the other spouse is indeed selfish in breaking and taking off. Still, the idea of staying in an institution where there is zero love and more harm than good simply for the sake of staying is folly. Divorce among the elderly is increasing because of recent laws that allow women to half her husband's pension, whereas before it was not, and also because people are starting to come to terms with the fact that it is okay to do what you want... even if that DOES mean being a little selfish sometimes, especially if it benefits all parties.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I thank God that I met and married the right woman.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I thank God that I met and married the right woman.

Lucky man. I hope you'll still be saying that in 50 years from now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The ol' silent treatment. A classic example of passive-aggressive behaviour. I have heard lots of conversations in Japanese about other people's personalities, but I can't remember any use of "passive-aggressive" or an equivalent Japanese term. It strikes me as strange given that I would say Japanese people are quite prone to it in the form of the silent treatment, nakama hazure, etc.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@ Savethegaijin,

Wow i feel your pain, how about containing the local government and explaining the hording situation (quietly) and seeing if It call all be taken away due to it being a health hazard. Might work as you know rules are rules here, but yer its private property so..... who know worth a go.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I thank God that I met and married the right woman.

so far, for now....... ; )

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Does this have anything to do with changes in the pension system?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I thank God that I met and married the right woman.

Me too.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I thank God that I met and married the right woman.

Me too.

How many people on JT have married the same woman? And do you all know about each other? ;-)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

"Japanese women, the most stubborn females on this earth who always think there right no matter what and will never change their ways, no matter how right the complaint."

Pretty ACCURATE statement there!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Not in my experience.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Some of the usual blanket indictments concerning J-women as is the norm on this site.You got good and bad of both sexes all over the world. The door is always open to go marry that "least" stubborn of women wherever they are. I will say though, that having met my missus living outside Japan and having experienced the "real world," I'd say that I would probably struggle to have married one who hadn't!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Many people marry far too young and far too quickly in the relationship, often for 'security' reasons etc. Realise few months or years later things aren't that good after all. But hey they have a hubby/missus!

Re J women, am very much with strangerland. Blokes who say they are 'all' awful would probably have ended up with a dragon back home anyway. Your fault guys.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Like some of the above have said and i agree with. My J wife is from a local town did some traveling on her own when she was younger and hate the eeEE, Kowai girl/ba bas. Cant paint them all with the same brush where ever you are. We traveled for 4 months through S.E.A before getting hitched, we have common interests and goals and support each other what ever is going on, sure we have our moments but if one partner can put the other before themselves and visa versa its a good start. Arghh gonna go give her a big wet one now.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's funny... when I first arrived in Japan my gaijin-sphere was nothing but young, single foreign men singing the superiority of Japanese women to anyone else in the world. Now it's mostly bitter married foreign men painting all Japanese women as the worst women in the world to marry. Wonder if there's not some kind of explanation for that.

smithinjapanAPR. 14, 2016 - 12:52PM JST I think this line is quite telling; the idea that if you divorce you are 'selfish' and not 'self-sacrificing' enough.

I noticed that too. It's not just biased editorializing, but its premise is taken for granted without ever even being supported. Not a shred of evidence is given for the notion that Japanese people think more of themselves and less of the collective. If anything, because people who are unhappy tend to unconsciously do things that make the people around them unhappy, I'd say people who stay in an unhappy marriage just for the sake of keeping up appearances are far, far more selfish than people who realize they're unhappy and work and take a risk to find a solution that maximizes the happiness of everyone around them including themselves.

But it sounds like the writer thinks a Japanese marriage should be like a traditional Japanese job- making yourself miserable for no other reason than to show how hard you're willing to work to fulfill the role you think someone wants you to have.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

My parents worked together for over 40 years, then around two years after retirement they simply couldn't stand to be in the same room as each other. Over the years they began to think of each other as mere co-workers and nothing more. My father moved out one week before his 80th birthday, and my mother maintains that she's happier now than ever. At the time I felt like their split came out of the blue, so it made me think pretty deeply about my own marriage. I want my husband to know how much I appreciate him, so now I tell him. Before I thought I didn't need to, that it was something he should already know, now that seems so foolish of me.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I've been married to a Japanese woman for the past 16 years. For most of that time she's been a miserable wretch but I stayed for our son who is now 15. I'm 48, she's 47. Around 7 years ago she started saying she was an old woman. Cut off all affection for the last 5 years, whines about anything and everything and is only nice to me when it's salary time! She's been pushing me for a divorce for years, well I finally had enough and put FOUR sets of papers on the table and now she's refusing to sign them!! She doesn't want me, but doesn't want to let me go!! I'm done! I don't care what anyone says - Japanese women are difficult and cold. My wife wasn't always like that in the first couple of years and I've tried everything to get us back to what we used to be, but she isn't budging.

I have Japanese friends whose parents have slept in the separate rooms for many years and some of the wives balk at the idea of doing anything together!! I even met a friend and his father on his 60th birthday. He didn't look happy and I asked why. He told me his mother divorced him that very day. 40 years of marriage thrown away like a used cup and she's taken 50% of HIS pension? ! I'm not giving my 'wife' the satisfaction....and I refuse to be lonely and bitter any longer! I've done all I can to save the marriage, but I stopped being who I am as a result. I see many old Japanese guys going the same route. Don't ever think she'll go back to being the sweet sexy woman you once knew, your soulmate, your best friend....as my 'wife' once said to me: "She's gone and not coming back so get used to it!"

11 ( +13 / -2 )

I'm so so sorry for anyone stuck in a marriage like book owls (and I have quite a few friends that are). My in laws are the same - together in name only, but no divorce because okaasan could never support herself. So he goes off to his whole other life/wife and she just has to suck it up. She's done it admirably ever since I've known here, but it's made her sick. She was an orphan and married for stability. She had 4 children, and she was never allowed to work. If she did, her mother in law said, she would be thrown out of the house to fend for herself and her 4 children. So tell me - how was a woman like that supposed to get off her backside and stop eating bon bons (which she never has in her life, she worked herself to the bone to keep the house well run)? She visited me in the US a few months ago. She's 70 now. I took her for a luxurious day at the spa and got her a massage. It was the first massage she had ever received in her life!

I am not happy with the position I am in now either. My kids are all at school, but I am not American. We came here for my husband's work. I am not allowed to work under the current terms of the visa, and even if I did, it would cost us more in childcare for the 3 of them than I could ever earn, because in Japan I worked my butt off teaching, and there is not such a call for that here without a US college degree and US experience. So for now, I volunteer instead. I work really hard for a group of different charities and do what I can. Meanwhile, I am studying and trying very hard to make connection wherever I can, in the hope that if our visa status changes in a few years I can actually work.

I'm just writing all this to point out that often, individual situations are not black and white. What one poster here may see as me sitting on my gym-honed ass all day, the USCIS sees as me not breaking the terms of our visa. I will be honest though - the first year of not working was heaven! But now I am SO over it!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I am not allowed to work under the current terms of the visa,

I wonder what type of visa you have if you are not allowed to work. Typically speaking a spouse visa, here in Japan, have no restrictions on a person being able to work or not.

Is it safe to say that your husband is not Japanese either?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's funny... when I first arrived in Japan my gaijin-sphere was nothing but young, single foreign men singing the superiority of Japanese women to anyone else in the world. Now it's mostly bitter married foreign men painting all Japanese women as the worst women in the world to marry.Wonder if there's not some kind of explanation for that.

One of those 'don't get me started' issues ;-) Picking someone based on nationality and the supposed personality traits of said nationality is just naive at best.

NathalieB, don't you know it? A great number of working women with 'careers' feel so damned superior because they are toeing the party line...these days you have to have a 'career' to be a whole human being, ie., be in lockstep with what other women deem to be 'it'. A generation ago, if you couldn't keep a house spotless, cook from scratch, and iron you were a failure. Women are ALWAYS denigrating choices of other women when they don't do what's in fashion. Or course now, "I don't even own an iron" and "I can't even make macaroni and cheese that comes in a box" and comments like it are now mad bragging points. Feminists have come so far trying to get away from their mothers (and that's what drives the vitriol against SAHMS), that even something like making a meal (which isn't even linked to marriage...single people have to eat too!) is anathema to them...hence making fun of cooking classes and SAHMs...I guess being able to make croissants is a symbol of brainwashing by the patriarchy.

tmarie, I am less than impressed with your constant drive to denigrate anyone who's choices are not your own. People who are at home have their reasons, and you don't get to question them.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I don't care what anyone says - Japanese women are difficult and cold.

Another broad statement. I feel for the rough situation you are in, but it's like getting robbed by a black person and saying 'I don't care what anyone says, black people are thieves'.

The fact is not all Japanese women are the same, and painting them all with the same brush is not right. 十人十色.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Addendum. " Feminists have come so far trying to get away from their mothers" .Not all feminists, but a subset that feels free to dictate to others.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"He moved back with his parents. It seems rather late in life for that, but maybe he has something else in mind for the near future."

Emphasis on "near." He will have his hands full as his parents need more and more care in their old age. Or perhaps he will do a runner on them also.

"A silent husband has given up." Maybe so, but sometimes silent husbands/people are just silent and uncommunicative or inarticulate by nature. How many guys think they never have to say "I love you?" Just show it. The key is probably being sensitive to big change in communication style. Maybe Sachiko missed it, overly involved in "musing to herself."

I like this, Strangerland: 十人十色. Thank you!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I also think as Wrembreck said " I want my husband to know how much I appreciate him, so now I tell him. Before I thought I didn't need to, that it was something he should already know, now that seems so foolish of me." And for those of you having really tough times in your relationships. If your life is cloudy and you're far, far off course, you may have to go on faith for a while, but eventually you'll learn that every time you trust your internal navigation system, you end up closer to your right life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

bookowlsAPR. 14, 2016 - 10:42PM JST

our son who is now 15. I'm 48, she's 47. Around 7 years ago she started saying she was an old woman. Cut off all affection for the last 5 years

The fear of being heard by the child may be the real reason.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sachiko’s husband retired at 60. She was 57, their two children were grown; after 35 years of marriage they were free. They’d spend quiet days together at home, dine out sometimes, travel abroad occasionally. Growing old isn’t so bad after all. So Sachiko had been musing to herself when her husband abruptly broke in on her thoughts: “Let’s divorce.”

That's just sad... it depresses me that people only stay together until their kids are grown up and settled. Did love never enter the equation?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm 72 and forever married. A guru taught my wife and me the secret to an inseparable marriage. One has to make a commitment to it for no reason. Called taking an irreversible stand. When one makes a commitment for a reason, such as for love, the reason can change and thus the basis for the commitment no longer stands. After two decades my wife said she had taken the stand whether I would or not, but invited me to. I knew it was momentous, and scary, but I said yes. The moment I walked through that door, the human condition got left on the other side and I realized that the guru had taught me not only the secret for an unshakable commitment, and marriage, but the secret of life.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

57 and 60 equals "elderly"?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Feminists still cook and clean. Least I know I do.

If one states they aren't going to work because they're looking after the kids and house, more power to them. I have zero issues with SAHMs. My issue is the benefits they recieve and the entitlement towards these benefits.

If you'd have read the article, you'd see that many aren't "towing the party line" of stay at home wives with regards to "meals from scratch" and a clean house. If a man said he was off to work and the breadwinner and failed to uphold his promise, pretty sure his wife would be upset and rightly so. Why can't men do the same? You can't blame men who've worked their balls off for not being happy if their wife isn't doing what they agreed upon.

As for women tearing each other up, do you think your post is supportive of working women? Not all have the luxury of staying home. And not all are futilely with that. Why not look at how men like yourself don't help matters?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Feminists still cook and clean. Least I know I do.

Then you better look at older feminist opinion...it was Betty Friedan who said that housework is free slavery, and housewives are basically slaves. I never understood it because even if you live alone you have to eat and have a clean place to live.

If one states they aren't going to work because they're looking after the kids and house, more power to them. I have zero issues with SAHMs.

Oh, baloney...or you think that because someone's a SAHM they shouldn't have any fun or a life at all, as you are always carping on about hula lessons and lunch with friends, which is it? Are SAHMs allowed out once in a while or not?

do you think your post is supportive of working women?

I didn't say a word about working women. My point was that you are obviously one, and you go on and on about women needing a career, and you and Tessa appear on every single thread ranting about bon-bons and hula lessons etc, as if SAHMs are less than whole human beings and don't deserve a break. I dislike your attitude towards SAHMs, I have no problem with working mothers, my DIL is one.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Feminists still cook and clean. Least I know I do.

Spot on. As a singleton, I still have to cook, clean, and do the laundry. And this is after a hard day's work at a job educating/taking care of other people's kids (many of whom spend more of their waking hours with their teachers than their mothers, btw), and working at another job teaching English to spoiled baby boomers and overqualified housewives.

What I don't do is whine and moan about how incredibly "taihen" it is to have 1.41 kids (who get shoved into daycare as soon as possible) and elderly parents (who also get dumped into daycare at the first opportunity).

Oh, another thing I don't do is sit around popping bon-bons and practicing my hula moves. I'm far too busy working my butt off, paying my taxes and therefore paying into pension plans and health insurance on behalf of others.

as if SAHMs are less than whole human beings and don't deserve a break.

When did I ever accuse anyone of being less than human? All I would like to see is for certain people to become fuller members of society.

Don't deserve a break? A break from what, exactly?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I "better" look at it because what I've just said doesn't go with YOUR notions of what a feminist should be? Laughable. Just because YOU want to believe all feminists think like that doesn't mean they do.

My issue with SAHW here isn't the hulu and whatnot. It's that my tax money goes to subsidize them and their choice to stay home. I'm tired of poster like you stuffing words in my mouth and suggesting I have issues with those who stay home. I have issues with the system that supports and encourages able bodied women to stay at home after their children are in school. Worst yet, those with no children nor family to care for. That's my issue. If you want to turn this into some faux femnazi bashing, be my guest but all you're doing us showing your disdain for women who don't live up to YOUR ideals, not mine.

I've never ever said women need a career, have never dared to suggest that house wives are, what was it, less than human? You certainly do like to embellish.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have issues with the system that supports and encourages able bodied women to stay at home after their children are in school. Worst yet, those with no children nor family to care for.

Right on. The majority of housewives that I know do not have dependent children (meaning that their children no longer live at home, or more increasingly, that they never had children in the first place.) Furthermore, the majority of mothers are university-educated ... but for what purpose, I wonder? It seems that most of them used their very expensive educations to practice cutting mini-sausages into octopus shapes for the duration of their 1.41 children's kindergarten years, and not much else.

I am firmly convinced that Japanese society, and the Japanese economy, would change in a week if those lazy bon-bon munchers actually got off their butts and worked to earn their keep. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of carrying their load, and I don't blame their husbands for feeling the same way.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

tmarie, my point was that you seem to be uninformed of the beginnings of the movement, and the mass bashing of housewives (by other women) that began in the late 60s and early 70s. "Only a housewife?" "Those who aren't smart enough to get a job stay home" "I want to USE my brain!" and it continues 40 years, and here you are. Women of my mother's generation began to suffer feelings of worthlessness and depression, because either Friedan or Steinem was on TV saying that their lives were useless and they should break free.

When did I ever accuse anyone of being less than human?

The way you rail at SAHMs seeing friends indicates that you don't think they deserve those things...no one loudly, repeatedly, cloyingly mention hula lessons, lunch with friends and bon-bons (which is one of those old 60s phrases, so see how you're carrying on that biased legacy?) you're saying they shouldn't be doing those things or God help us, eating candy! The horror! It's so condescending. No one speaks like that of people they respect. Your condescension is obvious. Every human being deserves some fun, even if Tessa thinks they haven't earned it.

You've been well indoctrinated, both of you, down to the words you use. You bash other women because they don't live like you think they should. If feminism is about FREEDOM for women, then keep your mouths shut about others' choices.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

All readers, please focus your comments on the story and not at each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm far too busy working my butt off, paying my taxes and therefore paying into pension plans and health insurance on behalf of others.

If you are working your butt off (highlighted in your post no less) to pay taxes, you are in the wrong job field. Not to mention I'll bet you not not much of a educator either with the condescending attitude you have towards your students.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

if you treated your wife as family, tried to work things out instead of walking out, selfish act. "he already worked out the details" horrible person. may be she is suffering from him as well but not making the first move. "moved back with his parents" a baby act.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"moved back with his parents" a baby act.

Purposely included in the article like that to get responses like yours. At his age, moving back home, I'll bet, was a part of the plan all along and other crap built up into excuses for him to do it, and not as a baby act, but an act of taking care of elderly parents who probably did not want to live with HIS wife.

Typically in Japan the woman moves in with the man's family if they are not on their own, and the daughter in law takes care of the parents. There is more to this story than what was written here.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"How many housewives do you actually think you subsidize with the taxes you pay? Unless you're making hundreds of man a month, the amount that actually goes to shakai fukushi etc after your tax money has been parcelled out is a minute amount. You're hardly subsidizing legions of SAHMs"

You know what she means. Her point is that ALL adults who benefit from the healthcare, defence, infrastructure, education etc. that is provided through taxation should contribute through taxes. It should not be acceptable for people capable of working and paying taxes to not do so.

My personal feeling is that after children start school, families should have to pay the equivalent in taxation of an average annual salary for those not working. This will encourage mothers back to work, encourage fathers to share more parenting / household responsibilities, and increase tax receipts from those families who just want to keep an old-fashioned family structure.

And I can't emphasise strongly enough that it's no good just shouting at the women to go back to work, the men have to make commitments to family responsibilities to allow this to happen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This will encourage mothers back to work, encourage fathers to share more parenting / household responsibilities

This is exactly what we should not be encouraging. We should be encouraging an economy where one parent can stay home for child rearing. Children should be raised as much as possible by their own parents, not outside influences. When one parent is at home, it's easier to keep the home clean, and keep open communication with the child(ren). Children with a stronger family connection are less likely to cause problems and get into trouble as they get older. Encouraging an environment where both parents have to work to get by makes for a less strong familial bond.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oh, another thing I don't do is sit around popping bon-bons and practicing my hula moves. I'm far too busy working my butt off, paying my taxes and therefore paying into pension plans and health insurance on behalf of others.

Everyone pays on behalf of others. It's how the system works at all.

Are you sure you don't get any health and pension benefits yourself? You contribute more than your share, but don't draw on what others have contributed?

You haven't, for example, visited a hospital that was already there when you arrived in Japan?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Josei Jishin is an unreliable source with speculation and gosship that nobody takes it seriously

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I appreciate the comment about the guru and his irreversible stand for marriage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You are either contributing to someone staying at home, or someone's kids being in day care, and believe me day care is the more expensive option.

You seem to be under the impression that daycare lasts for 18 years. It doesn't.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Josei Jishin is an unreliable source with speculation and gosship that nobody takes it seriously

Hence it being reported here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He stayed away as much as possible, ate out whenever convenient, and put up with things at home until

Millions of Japanese men are already doing that, staying away from home until late as possible - hostess bars, work or any other excuses

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You seem to be under the impression that daycare lasts for 18 years. It doesn't.

New children join yearly, it doesn't go for 18 years for one child, but day care centers will always be running, will always be a taxpayer expense (the public ones). If every housewife for the next few decades went to work from tomorrow I think the day care burden would outweigh whatever amount you think is going to women at home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When this situation occurs, there so much criticism and cheapness thrown at the man. The fact that a man can mature into a defined entity and may find his wife boring and not needed in his life is often nearer to the truth than women can face.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Whether the mother works or stays at home, people of that mindset will see her and/or her children as a burden on society.

Working mothers get subsidised childcare. Housewives get a free pension and free healthcare insurance if their husband is a sarariman; if he's self-employed, she gets nowt.

If we want to encourage couples to have more children, I would suggest a child allowance sufficient to cover either pension and healthcare, or childcare, up until the child enters school; then a reduced amount to cover part of the pension/welfare premiums, or after school club, until say the start/end of junior high (negotiable: to whatever point the children of working mothers no longer need someone to mind them after school until a parent comes home). And scrap the spouse allowance. There is no need for any woman who has no children to care for, and who is affluent enough to not need to work, to get her pension and healthcare premiums paid by the rest of society.

The fact that a man can mature into a defined entity and may find his wife boring and not needed in his life

The fact that you can spout such rubbish is testament to your own lack of maturity. Which bit of 'in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part' is beyond you?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If every housewife for the next few decades went to work from tomorrow I think the day care burden would outweigh whatever amount you think is going to women at home.

I disagree. I think that the huge numbers of jobs created would more than compensate (childcare workers, nutritionists, bus drivers, school nurses, janitors, school lunch providers, school supply companies, child psychologists, pediatric nurses, teachers of all subjects, etc). I honestly cannot understand a society that demands that one person - usually a mother - be all of the above things to her children. That's not fair, and especially not on the mothers.

You know what they say: it takes a village to raise a child.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I honestly cannot understand a society that demands that one person - usually a mother - be all of the above things to her children.

I don't see anyone making that kind of demand.

Most of the things you're seeing as 'jobs created' seem to assume that Mum is going to be responsible for every aspect of caring for the children, including education and health care, right up to graduate level. No. She makes meals (nutritionist/school lunch provider) for family members who are at home; once they're in school, the school takes over until they come home. Even some daycares have 'Bring a bento' day.

Kids need to be taken to childcare/kindy/school/juku/wherever, regardless; having Mum at work doesn't suddenly mean there are more buses on the road. On the contrary, the two-income family is more likely able to afford another car to ferry the kids about in.

If the child is ill, he/she gets taken to the doctor's, doesn't matter whether the one doing the taking is a parent or a day care worker. Or are you suggesting that the children of working parents are more likely to need the support of child psychologists and are more prone to ailments requiring the ministrations of a nurse? That's a slippery path to go down. Rather you than me.

Teachers of all subjects? You think there is less need for school teachers if kids stay at home with Mum till they're old enough to go to kindy? Or do you want to insist that a sahm must also homeschool through to a PhD??

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Go for divorce older people!

Start a new life.

Sounds like fun.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mum at work doesn't suddenly mean there are more buses on the road.

I respectfully disagree, and I maintain that having more people in the workforce will create more jobs. In fact, a lot of the jobs I mentioned above could probably be done by Japanese retirees, or housewives who have already finished raising their own brood.

Furthermore, women who have economic earning power tend to be more confident about spending more money, thus contributing to the general economy.

Or are you suggesting that the children of working parents are more likely to need the support of child psychologists and are more prone to ailments requiring the ministrations of a nurse?

No, the thought never entered my head. But I think that if people are going to put their children in nurseries, then naturally they want to make sure that they are well-equipped (much in the same way that most schools now have guidance counsellors and nurses).

I don't see anyone making that kind of demand [on stay-at-home mothers]

Well, I do. It's suffocating. Many women are terrified of having that kind of responsibility, and I don't blame them. What you have to understand is that most women these days are raised to be workers, not mothers. They are raised to (believe that they) have options in life. Becoming a full-time mother is a cutting off of all their options, and the prospect of becoming totally responsible for another human life, with very little support from partners/family/society at large, is not a very appealing one.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What you have to understand is that most women these days are raised to be workers, not mothers.

I raised my own daughter (and son) to be people first and foremost. We saw to it that they both had the education to follow whatever path called them; what they choose to do with their lives is up to them.

They are raised to (believe that they) have options in life. Becoming a full-time mother is a cutting off of all their options

You don't see it as one of those options?

the prospect of becoming totally responsible for another human life, with very little support from partners/family/society at large, is not a very appealing one.

I found it exhilarating, and now I find my children to be a huge source of pride (I did that!). As for 'very little support...' that was not my experience.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

childcare workers, nutritionists, bus drivers, school nurses, janitors, school lunch providers, school supply companies, child psychologists, pediatric nurses, teachers of all subjects, etc). I honestly cannot understand a society that demands that one person

They're not 'childcare workers' they're the child's mother. You do all that without thinking about it , or minding. You wash your clothes, you wash your kids'...you feed yourself, you feed your kids.

Becoming a full-time mother is a cutting off of all their options, and the prospect of becoming totally responsible for another human life, with very little support from partners/family/society at large, is not a very appealing one.

To YOU. You do what you want, be 'childfree' or whatever they call it now. That's your business. But you have not right at all to declare what is right for all women . You think women should work outside the home and that's it, as far as you're concerned...as you heap scorn on SAHMs. I think you are just a limited, and don't have any more options than a SAHM. How is being in an office or a classroom from 9-5, 2-9, or whatever a better option?

I both stayed home and worked while I was raising my son. I taught English at home and also did proof-reading for the local university hospital, correcting doctor's papers. I also did proofreading for conferences, for instance, 350 400-word abstracts, 5 weeks to do it, 50 man. You can make good money at home if you seek out these specialist conferences etc and are good at it, and willing to learn all the terminology. I went to work outside from '95 to 2002, then it all hit the fan, my FIL reached the terminal stages of Alzheimer's (this is before home helpers) MIL followed the next year with the presentation of Lewy Body Dementia...I tried being at the hospital 5-6 days a week and going in on Sundays and doing a week's worth of the ledgers (I was doing book keeping, payroll and payments) in a day. You burn out sooner or later. I am now doing free-lance translating at home. Things change and you have to change to go along with them. If you're too rigid, you snap.

As for where your taxes go: I found a really neat breakdown of one city's taxes. The example is someone making 400man a year, they pay 20 man in taxes. On a daily basis those taxes are uses as follows-

179 yen goes to Welfare (the 'welfare' list is, on order general welfare recipients, elderly welfare programs, welfare programs for the disabled, programs for children [child abuse prevention and family counselling services etc] and the portion that the government pays towards kenko hoken and kaigo hoken) 107.51yen goes towards education 79.89 yen goes towards public loan costs 67.74 for construction 63.13 goes to administrative fees 34.24 to Public Health 28.79 to 'shoukouhi' which is a catch-all for matsuri etc 18.22 yen goes to the fire department 17.03 yen goes to agriculture, forestry and fisheries departments 5.66 yen to 'congress expenses' 1.04 goes to labor expenses 0.81 yen to the reserve fund

The conditions of a housewife getting a pension are-

Her husband has worked and paid his pension payments into the Kosei nenkin fund for 40 years from the age of 20 (salary-based payments on a sliding scale -max 51,000 yen a month for top earners the last time I checked)

2.his wife pays into the Kokumin Nenkin from the age of 20 until she's 60, she gets a pension of about 38,000 yen per month. She pays 15,000 yen a month for 40 years, a total of 7,200,000 (out of her husband's salary, or from her earnings part-time) 456,000 yen per year. That's 15 years of payments to use up the 7,200,000 she herself put in. It's after the age of 75 that she gets the 'free ride'....but so does anyone on Kokumin Nenkin...our local electrician, carpenters, many working people also pay that flat 15,000 a month for 40 years and get that same pension, not only housewives.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Marriages in Japan and much of Asia endure to maintain the family unit and provide stability for the children. The concept of getting married for 'love' is secondary if non-existent.

Within this framework, the parents can dislike each other but do everything possible to make it work for the sake of their children's upbringing and emotional support. IOW, the needs of their offspring outweighs pursuit of 'love' or 'happiness' unlike in the west where priorities are based individual needs and desires.

As a result, high divorce rates and single parent households has led to increased societal dysfunction in countries like the US where many kids grow up lacking stable family units, relying instead on friends for emotional support.

The result is high rates of crime, self-centered attitudes and little regard for others.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

They're not 'childcare workers' they're the child's mother.

With all due respect, most of the so-called women's work that I mentioned above is easily outsourced, and has been since time immemorial (wet nurses, anyone?). Does any women in any modern society homeschool her children up to PhD level on her own, or make their breakfasts by milking the cow in her backyard? Does she hand-knit all their clothing, and grow the rice for their lunchboxes in her backyard (which they don't require anyway, after the age of six)? Does she wash their school uniforms by banging them on a rock by the river? Not likely, at least not in modern-day Japan.

My honest measure of a woman/wife/mother is not how many hours she dedicates to crafting octo-sausages for her 1.41 children, but rather whether she can do all those things and still be the breadwinner of the family, if ever called on to be. Because let's face it, that's the most important role of all. (Oh, and while she's at it, she could get herself into a decent private pension plan. Any sensible person would.)

P.S. Although I'm impressed with the contributions you've made to society as a mother and a worker, it's not fair to say that I'm childfree. I work with and for children, and I liase with their parents. Those kids probably spend more time with me than their own mothers. I'm deeply proud of them, too.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My honest measure of a woman/wife/mother is not how many hours she dedicates to crafting octo-sausages for her 1.41 children, but rather whether she can do all those things and still be the breadwinner of the family, if ever called on to be. Because let's face it, that's the most important role of all.

No, it's not. Children need a full-time parent. Unfortunately, not all parents have the financial means to be able to have one parent stay home. But it's almost always better for the child to have a full-time parent, and studies have backed this up.

I grew up with two siblings and two working parents. And all three of us siblings now have a stay-at-home parent with our respective children. We know how it is growing up with working parents, and we've all seen the benefit of having a parent at home taking care of our children. As has society, and as has science.

Your bitterness about the pensions goes against what is the greater good for society.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

With all due respect, most of the so-called women's work that I mentioned above is easily outsourced

If you insist, you could outsource anything, no need to even get married .... they do call it the 'oldest profession'. Part and parcel of 'knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing'. And very, very, unsatisfying.

Does any women in any modern society homeschool her children up to PhD level on her own

No they don't, so why suggest that throwing more kids into daycare from birth would increase the number of teaching jobs?

whether she can do all those things and still be the breadwinner of the family, if ever called on to be.

If like most people she has just the one body, then it's physically impossible to 'do it all' and hold down a paying job. A woman sitting in an office 9 to 5 is not doing 'all those things', she is paying someone else to do them for her. Or getting the taxpayer to pay someone else to do them, if it's a subsidised daycare.

Because let's face it, that's the most important role of all

There is no one 'most important role'. In a stable marriage, one partner (doesn't matter which) earns the dough and the other looks after the babbies.

Paying someone else to look after your toddler is like paying someone else to eat your dinner. Pointless, and it leaves you feeling empty inside. Why pay to let someone else have all the fun?

Once they're past the toddler stage and ready to go off to kindergarten, I'm all for gradually loosening the apron strings and getting Mum back in harness, if that's what she wants and feels is best for the family. But let the tinies have those three years with Mum. It isn't very long.

It's after the age of 75 that she gets the 'free ride'

No Hima, the sarariman's wife who has never worked has a free ride from the start: she hasn't paid in anything, nor has her husband paid in more to cover her, in fact he's paid in less than his colleague who earns the same salary but has a working wife, because he gets an extra tax allowance that lowers the income on the basis of which his pension premium, local tax and income tax are all calculated.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Cleo, my MIL and all her friends paid Kokumin Nenkin, then 13,000 a month. They get a pension now.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hima - were they married to sararimen? My MIL worked as a paediatric nurse, part-time, no pension of her own, paid in nothing - 'officially' she was a housewife -, and now gets a very generous pension via FIL who was a civil servant (they get a special deal, too).

I paid kokumin nenkin, am not included in Mr cleo's pension, and will get no more national pension than the housewife next door who has paid nothing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just read the pension law the other day, translated it, and it said what I wrote above. Without a Kokumin Nenkin Techo, they won't have a number, how can they get a pension?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Everyone has a techo and a number. You get one when you register as a Grade 3 - if you don't register, you're not eligible. If your MIL was paying in, then she wasn't a Grade 3.

会社員や公務員(第2号被保険者)に扶養されている配偶者(専業主婦:第3号被保険者)は、保険料を納める必要はありません(A spouse who is financially dependent (=a full-time housewife: Grade 3 insuree) on a company employee or civil servant (=Grade 2 insuree) is not required to pay the insurance premium.)

https://www.nenkin.go.jp/oshirase/topics/2015/20150216-02.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks for the info Cleo. I wanted to post an update, but you can't post twice in a row. It's predicated on the husband paying into Kosei nenkin as a company employee for 40 years. So it's not every housewife, but those in that category. FIL was a shopkeeper.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Exactly, Hima - if only it was a level playing field for everyone!

(When I typed that sentence, the JT spellchecker automatically 'corrected' it to paying field. Mmm.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My mother married twice and got divorced twice. She got to 50 and said "No more". That's when the happiest days of her life started! Seriously though, I read somewhere that only 10% of relationships (married or dating) actually last forever. That's pretty low odds so when you enter into a relationship you should just enjoy it while it lasts. Marriage is pretty much something only wealthy people do now in the UK. Let's face it, most marriages end sometime. It's good that Japanese people are getting out of crappy relationships and moving on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

P.S. Although I'm impressed with the contributions you've made to society as a mother and a worker, it's not fair to say that I'm childfree. I work with and for children, and I liase with their parents.

Teaching children is not the same as having them. My point is that you can choose anything you want...have kids, don't have them, go to work once you do, or stay home. And I won't criticize you!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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