lifestyle

Deep-set attitude hampers 'Womenomics'

50 Comments
By Julian Ryall for BCCJ ACUMEN

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared that promoting women in the workplace is a key part of its political and economic manifesto. But the message is not seeping down to the old-boy network that still runs Japan Inc. and, just as important, to a society that appears still to be more comfortable with pregnant women leaving the workforce to serve as housewife and mother.

The question of Womenomics and the crossroads that it has reached in both Japan and the UK was discussed at a spirited British Chamber of Commerce in Japan seminar. Mariko Oi, a reporter for BBC World News, and Professor Danielle George, a professor of engineering at The University of Manchester, compared and contrasted their experiences.

Oi, nominated for the Nikkei Woman of the Year Award, recently completed a documentary for the BBC exploring the attitudes of Japanese women to the workplace.

She was taken aback at the results of a recent survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare that showed 41.6% of married women in their twenties believe that women should stay at home and focus on housework. That figure is up from the 35.7% of respondents who expressed the same sentiment in 2003.

“A lot of my own friends said they were glad to be able to stay at home rather than go back to work after having children”, Oi said, adding that her own role model of the husband in the average family, her father, “is completely hopeless and can’t do his own laundry”.

“I grew up thinking that was my role—and it’s not easy to change that way of thinking in an entire society overnight”, she said. “The idea of encouraging women to go back to work is great, but it’s not going to happen if society does not support it.

“That is the attitude that has to change if the government’s policy is to succeed”.

Oi said her own attitude to women in the workplace was shaped when studying in Australia at 16 years of age. Her host mother asked how she would take care of herself if she got married in the future and the marriage broke down.

“It took me a while to learn that juggling work with having a family is possible”, said Oi, who now has an infant daughter. “It’s not easy, but it is possible”.

Meanwhile George recently demonstrated that being a woman is no impediment to taking on an imposing challenge, even when heavily pregnant.

“There are not many women in the sciences and engineering in the UK, and even fewer female role models”, she said. “I was very pleased to be asked to present the 2014 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, but I would have been eight-and-a-half-months pregnant at that time and I felt I had to make a choice”.

Initially deciding against becoming only the sixth woman in 189 years to present the lectures, George said her husband talked her around and that her university and The Royal Institution were both “very supportive”.

The lectures, which included a live conversation with Samantha Cristoforetti on the International Space Station, were a great success.

“There is quite a lot going on in the UK in science and engineering at the moment, and Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed support for women in engineering”, George said.

The government’s campaign to attract more women to careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is an effort to address “biases and working practices” that “result in systematic and cumulative discrimination against women throughout STEM study and academic careers”, she added.

The UK target is to double the number of women undergraduates in these disciplines by 2030.

Japan has set targets for women in senior corporate positions, said moderator Suzanne Price, president of Price Global. As part of Womenomics, the government says it wants to see 30% of managerial and board positions filled by women by 2020. As an incentive, the government has said that firms falling short of that requirement will not be permitted to tender for contracts linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Some seminar participants said that the 30% target might not be realistic in the immediate future. Moreover, the attendees broadly agreed that of all the impediments that exist, social pressure remains the single largest hurdle that women in Japan need to overcome.

Custom Media publishes BCCJ ACUMEN for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


50 Comments
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But the message is not seeping down to the old-boy network that still runs Japan Inc.

No, you think? And anyone who has worked any length of time in Japan knows exactly why -- the men are simply scared to death of real competition from women in the workforce. Their precious egos cannot stand the loss of face that will come when they have to go home and explain to their wife how a woman beat them out for a promotion, or worse yet, explain it to his parents and her parents. Having worked in senior positions for ten years there, including running my own company -- so I manged and hired/fired both genders -- I concluded that most male salarymen are just spoiled little boys, and the women could run rings around them if given an equal opportunity.

12 ( +19 / -7 )

I always thought Mariko Oi could be a role model in Japan. In fact, when even the slightest achievements of any Japanese abroad are highlighted I have always been surprised that hers have not.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Sorry but "deep-set" is hardly the right word here, institutionalized is more like it. Education from birth separates the men from the woman and the societal beliefs ingrained that women are somehow different.

Abe is not the one to lead any change on women in the work place, Japan needs a female leader to step up and show the world the way!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

A woman that stays home with her kids is benefitting society just as much as a working mom who's serving the corporate profit machine.

A stay at home mom provides support for schooling, prepares healthy lunches and gives care and attention to a child that needs it.

Society needs to value, respect and appreciate the work and contribution that stay at home moms provide.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

The problem, unfortunately, has as much to do with the attitudes of women as of men. Don't hold your breath waiting for a feminist uprising.

13 ( +15 / -3 )

She was taken aback at the results of a recent survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare that showed 41.6% of married women in their twenties believe that women should stay at home and focus on housework. That figure is up from the 35.7% of respondents who expressed the same sentiment in 2003.

Lazy parasites.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The problem, unfortunately, has as much to do with the attitudes of women as of men. Don't hold your breath waiting for a feminist uprising.

@Stephen

Well said.

Japan has the lowest birthrate among developed nations (less childcare responsibilities) and the smallest houses (less housework), but still the lowest rate of female workforce participation. Why is that? — The main culprit as I witness it is extensive peer pressure among 30-year-old-plus women not to work, whether they have children or not.

I have seen it time and again, the capable late 20-year-old educated professional woman who sees leaving the workplace for greener less encumbered pastures as her God-given right, once married quitting to "take care of my husband," sometimes later having children, sometimes not. Then, the handful of women who stay behind in the workforce past their mid-30s are often envious and resentful toward those who got out.

The biggest barrier to getting more Japanese women into the workforce is this women-to-women peer pressure, fueled by the lure of ikebana, sado, eikaiwa, tennis or yoga lessons followed by long lunches in fancy restaurants with fellow enthusiasts, or the hobby business subsidized by the husband's income.

12 ( +16 / -5 )

to a society that appears still to be more comfortable with pregnant women leaving the workforce to serve as housewife and mother.

Shouldn't this be the ideal for a modern nation (wife or husband)? I'm sure things will change in the future for women once newer and younger companies (Rakuten) push out the old boys which could take 20 to 70 years, but should this idea of one parent staying home really change? I don't think so. I could be wrong, maybe the goal of the newer companies is to join the network. I was not surprised when I found out that the rising SoftBank Corp. has as its top "External Director", the President & CEO of FAST RETAILING. The new-Old boys network? Will things change with this new group? Will they challenge the Old boys? I don't know.

One more strange question that popped into my head. Are the Yakuza gangs just wings of the old-boys network?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Work style. All work and no play makes progress impossible. Self-development, human-development, family development - all need time. Time off. Weekends. Evening meals. Family vacations. Without that stuff Japan is stuck in the mud.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I don't want criticism but I'm just wondering something if a couple have a child and let guess are middle class family, both parents work, both parents want money to have a life, and let guess isn't money just pursue their goal and ambitions to get promotions and be recognized in the company their working let guess they work really late time like in Japan is often working over time very much for both gender so who will teach your child the good or bad of things of life? Or what kind of parents model they will have? Or what kind of friends they are surrounded? Sometimes one of the parties need sacrifice their full time job to be a part time to raise and teach the child they have. Japan need to implement to be equal opportunity in labor market about part time and full time jobs. Extreme ways of views in both parties (female and male) aren't going to be better to Japan society.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Joshua, slow down, your poor grammar and sentence construction, and your lack of proper punctuation, destroy your ideas. Next time, type, read, think, type, read, think, and repeat.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The point being missed here , is the children, not the husband or wife. So many children are latch key kids, coming home from school to an empty house. So which do you think is better ?. A mother who welcomes a child home after school is far more welcoming than coming home to an empty house, and being alone for a number of hours. The feminist brigade where the instigators of the so called womens revolution. I agree women should have equality, equal pay, but like man, the choice lies with the person. And for all readers who think that being a housewife and mother is not enough reward in this life, they are misguided.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Having worked in several companies in the past with women owners or part owners some of the attitudes here are quite surprising.

I work for an american company here, peoples roles and duties are set by the job role you have and we don't have office ladies as such, people are fairly specialised.. I cringe every time one of the older Japanese guys demands which ever women happens to be nearest makes the coffee for a meeting and so on when these women not only outrank them in many cases but work much much harder.. I make a point of doing it myself and have spoken up a few times but its hard to break through old fashioned bull headedness.

The are very real factors that women are often the primary care giver, and if the choose to have children they will at some point need some time away from work, not just from a equality point of view but an economic one, Japan needs these women, so support them :-)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

“It took me a while to learn that juggling work with having a family is possible”

It didn't take me any time at all... In fact, one of the "conditions" for our marriage was (believe it or not) that I should continue working - and we are talking about a Japanese man ! It posed NO problem for me whatsoever, I had, in fact, every intention of doing so anyway ! My husband was already an excellent "cook" and having lived alone for quite some time, he also did some housework. We became a real "team" but I'll have to admit it was probably easier for him than for a "sarariman" since he was a university professor. We both did the cooking and cleaning and spent time together... (unfortunately however, too much time together can also have a very "negative" effect...) Not to worry ! I just continued working to bring up one of our two boys (he had kept the other).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The point being missed here , is the children, not the husband or wife. So many children are latch key kids, coming home from school to an empty house. So which do you think is better ?. A mother who welcomes a child home after school is far more welcoming than coming home to an empty house, and being alone for a number of hours. The feminist brigade where the instigators of the so called womens revolution. I agree women should have equality, equal pay, but like man, the choice lies with the person. And for all readers who think that being a housewife and mother is not enough reward in this life, they are misguided.

I agree with what you say for the most part, except for the implication that it needs to be the woman. The father can be a stay at home father as well. I think it's better for the kids to have one parent at home.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

So putting everyone on the treadmill is going to solve our problems. Yeah, right.

Middle class households in developed countries use to have one breadwinner. Now they need two. Why?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

She was taken aback at the results of a recent survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare that showed 41.6% of married women in their twenties believe that women should stay at home and focus on housework. That figure is up from the 35.7% of respondents who expressed the same sentiment in 2003.

It all comes back to the clearly-defined gender roles here. Japan is stuck in the 50s, thanks to the self-perpeuating old boy's network, and things are only getting worse. Just the other day, a report came out that 63% of new hires have zero interest in working abroad, or international business for that matter.

The writing's been on the wall for years - in these increasingly bleak economic times, the young people of Japan want one thing - security. Rather than push for self-development & broaden their horizons and employment prospects, they want a drab zaibatsu OR government position that guarantees them life employment. I deal with them all the time, and the same could be said for the young housewives. A worrying majority just want a Minato-ward 3LDK coffee-with-the-girls lifestyle, regardless of their academic credentials.

Sorry to say, but Japan is only going backwards. Back to the 1950s.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

63% of new hires have zero interest in working abroad

Can you cite the source? Thanks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just the other day, a report came out that 63% of new hires have zero interest in working abroad, or international business for that matter

I must wonder, if you ask people's hearts, what the percentage of this would be in other countries? How many people REALLY want to work aboard?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

They are missing the whole point of promotion. It should not matter if you are man, woman or child! If you have the skills you get the job! This is the reason that Japan's society is a generation behind the rest of the world. You have all these young minds with fresh education coming out of university and they spend the next twenty years having some 60 year old jiji telling them what to do. It's madness!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I know this will come off as politically incorrect and callous....but the truth is that if women really wanted to change the situation in Japan, the ground swell would come from them. It doesn't. It either comes from western voices or a select few in Japan. The fact is that most women are very content with the way things are here. They like the fact that the men work and the women stay home. Not true? Ask the typical female Japanese housewife or office worker in Japan...All things being equal, and there household had enough money to support itself, would they want a job (career)...The answer would overwhelmingly be "no". Btw, I am all for women working and fulfilling career and life goals...That is why I am often disnmayed to hear how my Japanese female friends can't wait to get married and stop working. One of the main reasons this could be the case is that a career in Japan is often akin to being a slave to a company and is not very fulfilling. Why would somebody want to just work when they can stay home, spend time with their children, and hang out woth their friends in the afternoon?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I work for an american company here, peoples roles and duties are set by the job role you have and we don't have office ladies as such, people are fairly specialised.. I cringe every time one of the older Japanese guys demands which ever women happens to be nearest makes the coffee for a meeting and so on when these women not only outrank them in many cases but work much much harder

I dont get it, if it is an American company then company policy should dictate against men (or women) from "demanding" that a woman or anyone for that matter "make coffee" for a meeting.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

For those on here asking for the source (re: new hires not interested in working abroad):

http://jp.reuters.com/article/2015/10/25/idJP2015102501001291

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When a Kids hate to go to school...it might mean that they are being bullied or the teachers are not kind enough. Isn't same thing going on at Japanese work place? If they they have supportive environment and can leave work on time, of course more women will join the work force. Today marriage and child rearing is used as excuse to quit working. Even some young women are desperately doing the konkatsu thing to find a man on whom they can depend on to support them and so they can stop working.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Thanks sighclops.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It’s true that it’s profitable for a woman have money, not have to be a company slave and enjoy her children; but if regarding this she can compensate her husband, investing her effort in him and her family, it would lead to strengthen the family, so it would be the family who gain at the end, and therefore he would be gaining too, because though he is working hard, he knows his work is being enough to get what he needs and what he values most. Am I wrong?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A problem is that the housewife is at a disadvantage if the marriage breaks down or the husband dies and then she has to take care of herself, plus if there's kids, after years of being unemployed. That's not good for her, and that's not good for the kids.

Meantime, if there has to be a spouse at home to take care of the kids, there shouldn't be a problem if it's the husband that stays home. That type of change in attitude is a significant equality shift in a traditional patriarchal society.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wonder where parasite kids come from, parasite moms. Japan should tax stay at home moms to compensate for the drain on the economy that these people create. Or at least make them do volunteer work to help people in need. Staying home watching TV eating bon-bons a productive life does not make. Get a job. there are plenty of jobs out there to be had. Cuts into the tennis/english lessons I know but really Japan will be better off if you do something meaningful with your lives. Besides your laziness makes it much harder for women who do want to make something of their lives, and that is tragic.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Kid gets sent to pre school. Mom goes out with friends for cake, crumpets and coffee every afternoon. Papa works his nuts off, and ahhhh such a happy family. Mass vacation time with the whole country off at the same time...papa gets to sit in traffic. Ahhhhhh

4 ( +7 / -3 )

And the Old Boy's response to this? "Isn't that cute... trying to wear pants! Okay, play time's over -- back the kitchen to fetch me some tea!", no doubt. Abe's stance on this is just playing to an audience, and he usually only touts 'womenomics' at International meetings, then comes back home and tells companies "It's up to you," not as in relegating responsibility, but saying it's a choice.

We're talking about a nation that was in a massive panic because the Crown Prince and Princess only had a girl, and now that a boy has been born to another in line to the throne all conversation about Aiko's possible succession has stopped. Even the IDEA of a woman taking over made some people go ballistic.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think, really the economic problems in Japan and in the developed world won’t be solved by generating more salarywomen. It have to do with other kind of forces in the complex international economic system. I think the oversupply of workforce, the overproduction of goods and the lack of money to buy all that can be produced with all the present technology address the problem better.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some seem to be saying that a lot of Japanese women have few career aspirations and would prefer to stay home as full-time wives and mothers. If this is true you would expect the birthrate to be at least the equal, and more likely higher, than in countries where women are more likely to take on jobs and/or be career-minded. Yet this does not seem to be the case. It seems Japan currently gets the worst of both worlds: less female workforce participation AND fewer kids. Something is wrong. Those who say that Japanese women are lazier might have a case because they are neither working, nor looking after kids, on balance. Of course, the sheer cost of a kid may be contributory too.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Guys, you're all misunderstanding "womenomics". It's not about getting women back to work, it's about raising husbands' income so the wives can spend more on jyuku for the children while they shop at Ginza for Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags like in the 80s.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

a rich privileged woman pontificating on what others should do, so noble.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

1: Pushing women into the labor force is a move by corporations to lower their labor expenses: more workers competing for jobs = we can pay people less.

2: Women spend money. And think about how their spending differs from men. Men tend to buy big-ticket recreational items infrequently: sports cars (very low profit margins), sporting goods (think nice golf clubs), power tools.....These are not things for which companies can easily attain consistent repeat buyers. So they have unstable revenue streams. Women, generally-speaking, buy smaller luxury items (high-profit margin handbags), and consumables like cosmetics, and do so on a more regular basis. Stable and higher-profit revenues for business. So putting money in womens hands by putting them in the labor force SHOULD = higher and stable profits for businesses (even if they are earning less than men).

3: I agree with sentiment that 50's/60's-era single-income family structure with an active and involved housewife/child-rearing mother was/is effective for society. Robust families have less need of government services....which also makes them more difficult for governments to control/manipulate with handouts and social programs.

@Strangerland

I agree with what you say for the most part, except for the implication that it needs to be the woman. The father can >be a stay at home father as well.

Except evidence suggests that women strongly reject stay-at-home husbands, even when it was initially the woman's idea.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-467390/Househusband-backlash-high-flying-wives-ditch-men-em-em-wanted-stay-home.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2182970/Why-stay-home-dad-quickest-way-kill-sex-life-lead-wives-stray.html

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm pretty sure Japan doesn't have the lowest birthrate in the developed world. Its a myth put out there by lazy uninformed journalism. In Germany, it's 1.38, and I think it's lower in places like Singapore.

In Japan, it would be better if non-working mothers simply played tennis or ate bon bons or went out for cake sets or whatever. Unfortunately because housewives have time, it means school PTAs and neighbourhood associations can balloon to encompass lots of meaningless tasks, which will merrily be scheduled during working hours and drag working mothers away from their jobs. Schools can have also antiquated rules like shutting down classes for a week if 25% of the kids (in my son's case, five) get flu or a gastro complaint, starting from the following day. Infected or not, the whole class is told to stay at home and stay in. No alternative childcare is provided. Kids with flu are told to stay away a full week regardless of recovery time, so class shutdown (one week) then your kid getting sick means asking for two weeks off with no notice. On the whole, working parents aren't given a second thought. There is tension building now though because men are earning less. The real groundswell for change will come when we reach a critical mass of mothers who need to work full time to support their family. When double income families become the necessary reality. It's happened in the West and I don't think we are that far off in Japan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Burning Bush:

A woman that stays home with her kids is benefitting society just as much as a working mom who's serving the corporate profit machine.

A stay at home mom provides support for schooling, prepares healthy lunches and gives care and attention to a child that needs it.

Society needs to value, respect and appreciate the work and contribution that stay at home moms provide.

Look, can you tell me who has criticized mothers with children staying at home? Are you a militant member of a Million Moms?

The problem is not a woman (or man) being forced to work instead of looking after their young children. The problems are women not being given the chance to work and get promoted should they wish to do so, and women who are married but don't or won't have children and refuse to work and instead, live off their husbands' hard-earned money, having tea, tennis and yoga lessons everyday, while benefitting from tax relief. If the husbands are fine with that, then ok, but tax the wives like anyone else.

I agree it would be nice to have one parent at home to look after the kids if there are any. But that's not always financially possible. And some women may want to do a bit more than be a shop assistant. Both my parents had to work starting from when I was young, and I didn't suffer. They had NO choice. And they never asked for benefits or handouts. We managed with granny and my older sister, and I'm glad my mother wasn't interested in tennis lessons.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

She was taken aback at the results of a recent survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare that showed 41.6% of married women in their twenties believe that women should stay at home and focus on housework.

When so many women face workplace discrimination and temp job insecurity and low pay, is it any wonder that they choose to stay home if they can?

@Burning Bush

A woman that stays home with her kids is benefitting society just as much as a working mom who's serving the corporate profit machine.

A stay-at-home mother is also serving the corporate profit machine, she is just not paid. It's called shadow work.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The feminist brigade where the instigators of the so called womens revolution.

What is this "brigade" of which you write? I see none. And what "revolution"? Certainly not in Japan.

I agree women should have equality, equal pay...

Yeah, right.

And for all readers who think that being a housewife and mother is not enough reward in this life, they are misguided.

A mother does ideally need to be at home for a year while a child suckles, but why is it the woman who must be the "housewife" and not the man? Surely being a househusband and father is enough reward in this life? Why are men so determined to go out and work when they could be with their family at home?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kohakuebisu: "I'm pretty sure Japan doesn't have the lowest birthrate in the developed world. Its a myth put out there by lazy uninformed journalism. In Germany, it's 1.38, and I think it's lower in places like Singapore."

Low birthrate in and of itself is not necessarily the problem. It's the low birthrate coupled with the extremely high number of seniors living to never before ages, and compounded by the fact that no new workforce is coming in. How do Germany and Singapore fare in terms of these other factors? If current trends continue it won't be long in Japan before the ratio of working to retired persons is 1:1, and then if the retirement age is not postponed further it will be 1:2. The system cannot sustain itself at this rate, but as taxes increase and life gets harder and harder, who the hell wants to have more kids to make it worse?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Further to the last comment, the shock is that the percentage of young women who think "women who should stay at home and focus on housework" has actually increased from 30 to 40%. In Japan there has always been workplace discrimination and low pay for women. If anything, such problems used to be worse. Job insecurity is increasingly a problem now, but that goes for men and women. Which also means there are fewer secure meal ticket husbands out there who can let someone "stay at home and focus on housework".

I've got two daughters and I hope to see more ambition out of them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Deep-set attitude hampers 'Womenomics'

Like the belief that menstruation leads to irrational behavior, and therefore isn't fitting for politics.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Women are being underpaid and undervalued in the workplace, against men who are morons (present company and anyone reading this excluded!) They have to work the same hours as men to be taken seriously, precluding being a parent too. SOMEONE has to be home to feed the kids in the evening. The oyaji don't want them there either as it threatens their delicate egos. Would you want to deal with all that AND then have to raise a family too, pretty much alone as the husband is "so tired" from working hard all week. On top of that, you have your own mother and mother in law telling you you should be at home (their sights being set on when they get elderly they don't want you in a career but looking after them as per tradition) You see your friends kicking it back and enjoying their non-corporate lives. Your own husband doesn't encourage you to continue working as he wants to be looked after too, and it is a matter of pride for him (recalling the time I went back to work after our first and my husband's friends told him that was embarrassing and people will think he doesn't earn enough!)

Institutionalized is the right word for it, and I don't see it changing.

I was told a fabulous story once here in the US regarding a company with Japanese interests who hired a new top lawyer whose name was...and I'll change it here for anonymity but the gist remains the same...."Jamie", to oversea all legal activities globally. Jamie called all the lawyers over from Japan for a high level meeting. They all filed in, and before they started the meeting, the only woman in the room suggested they all have some tea or coffee. The Japanese lawyers all agreed and proceed to give her their orders, making sure she understood them correctly and had it all written down just so. One of them even suggested condescendingly to her that she might want to set up a table or spreadsheet or something to make sure she gets it all right as there were so many varied requests. She duly shuffled out and completed their orders, came back in, served them all their drinks, and then walked to the front of the room, clicked on the OHP and introduced herself - as Jamie, their new boss. My friend was a young guy back then and he said to this day the looks on their faces are ingrained in his mind like it was yesterday. Absolutely priceless!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Abe deserves credit for trying, but until and unless Japanese women stand up and clearly say that they want and will work for workplace equality he is wasting his breath.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sorry, but alluding to the fifties in Japan as a good ol' days of sweet mommy at home and all that american/ canadian prosperity propaganda is silly. it sounds cute or clever but is ignorant. Families over here didn't have food thru the fifties. they had been occupied by foreign powers. They made great sacrifices. children had no sugar and barely had shoes. Man, smartarses who think they know about Japan can be irritating for sure.! and japanese woman are tough, and japanese men need wetnurses

0 ( +0 / -0 )

NathalieB: ....

I hope she had a big, giant grin on :).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As a Japan blogger, I've learned to not write about topics like this because people can't understand that, to a degree, Japan is the way it is because the Japanese (both men and women) like it that way just fine.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japanese women are not ambitious. They aspire to marry a man earning ¥500,000+ so they can give up work.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

to put it simply, the issue that prevents any kind of progress here is the constant need to divide and seperate people based on sex, age, education, family background, dialect, and any of the other tiny details.

Case in point, here is the classic questions I usually get asked when meeting a Japanese (usually male) for the first time.

Where are you from?

Have you been in Japan long?

Are you married? / Do you have a girlfriend/ boyfriend?

There seems to be this ABSOLUTE need to classify and categorize people as soon as they are met.

In what other part of the world is it OK to just blurt out a personal question like that upon meeting someone in the first 8 seconds? Would it be considered rude for a Japanese person to ask another Japanese person this? male to female or female to male? I can't imagine that this would be OK.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can't imagine there are many couples who can comfortably afford to have a stay at home wife. They might like to come across that they can but there must be a lot of head scratching going on behind closed doors when the bills come in and guess whose pocket money gets cut!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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