As discussed in our Women in Japan series, being a housewife is still a respected career in Japan. A common response from girls here to the standard “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question is: “a beautiful bride” or “a housewife”.
But increasingly less Japanese women are choosing to get married and have children these days because of the expectation that Japanese women should quit work immediately after, and become housewives. Those who try to buck the “system” can face maternity harassment and find themselves squeezed out of their jobs. Accordingly, we were curious to find out what young Japanese women in their twenties think about such a future. Luckily, YouTuber That Japanese Man Yuta has come out with a new and informative video to satisfy our curiosities.
As we can see from the video below, this is a divisive issue, with a mix between modern and more traditional viewpoints.
Some of the interviewees expressed a common wish to “enjoy working” and “realize their dreams” before settling down to the inevitable life of a housewife. The difficulty of balancing full-time work with childcare and taking care of a family seems to leave young Japanese women with little impetus to continue their careers post-marriage, prompting them to get their fill of working life first.
While Japanese housewives still enjoy more respect than their Western counterparts, times are changing. Whereas before, a housewife’s busy schedule of cooking, cleaning, childcare, errand-running and the like was seen as essential to the household, some young Japanese women these days are starting to see staying home as tantamount to laziness. Others may prefer the mental stimulation of work to staying home with the kids.
One interviewee raised a salient point, which is often not discussed, that addresses the lack of parity in married couples where one partner is financially dependent on the other. Feeling that the breadwinner of the family would “look down” upon the other is contingent on one’s individual relationship, but part of the reason why some Japanese women want to continue earning in some capacity is to avoid being at the mercy of another person.
Another point raised was the increased cost of living, with many married couples now needing to earn a joint income to make ends meet.
What are your thoughts on this issue?
Source and screenshot: YouTube/That Japanese Man Yuta
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