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'Mad Men' 2011: Japan’s gender equality debate

153 Comments

"Mad Men" is a critically acclaimed TV show running in America set in the 1960s at an NYC advertising agency. It has run here in Japan on WOWOW.

It takes place in a world where the men were white, loved their Martinis, smoked big cigars and played it the company way.

Part of the success of the show has been its portrayal of sexism in that era, an era where, at least according to the lyrics of a Frank Loesser musical “How To Succeed In Business,” men had to be reminded that “A secretary is not a toy!”

Conversely, it was an era where the company ladies worked in the secretary pool, dressed chic and beautifully and dreamed of capturing a good man and living out her life in domestic bliss or servitude (depending upon how you look at it.)

In “How to Succeed,” the leading lady, Rosemary, instantly falls in love with the ambitious Mr Finch. As she imaginatively dreams about the life she’ll live in New Rochelle, NY, when once she captures her man, her friend reminds her, “Honey, you’ll be in New Rochelle… your darling tycoon will be here in the office. The future Mrs Finch is in for some lonely nights,” to which she responds, “Smitty, I’m prepared for exactly that type of thing…” and sings:

"I'll be so happy to keep his dinner warm While he goes onward and upward; Happy to keep his dinner warm Till he comes wearily home from down town.

I'll be there waiting until his mind is clear While he looks through me, right through me; Waiting to say, 'Good evening, dear. I'm pregnant. What's new with you from down town?'

Oh, to be loved by a man I respect; To bask in the glow of his perfectly understandable neglect. Oh, to belong in the aura of his frown--darling busy frown. Such heaven--wearing the wifely uniform While he goes onward and upward. Happy to keep his dinner warm Till he comes wearily home from down town."

That was in 1961. In 1963, Betty Friedan challenged the myth of domestic bliss with the publication of the “The Feminine Mystique.” It was based on a questionnaire she sent to the other women from her Smith College Graduating Class in which her classmates all indicated a general dissatisfaction with her life. This led her to conduct additional research on a type of general unhappiness the housewives of that era had which she related to a sense of worthlessness, despite living in material comfort and being happily married with fine children. She noted how their entire identity was dependent upon that of the success of their husband, and argued that in order to find fulfillment, women too needed to find meaningful work just as men do in order to find fulfillment in their lives.

And then came the women’s liberation movement of the '70s and some changes occurred; however, according to the The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, “Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the property.”

Today's Japan

Today’s Japan reminds me a lot of that transitional period toward the early '60s and beginning of the '70s.

It is anecdotal common sense that here in Japan a great deal of off-season hiring occurs as a result of women suddenly upping and leaving, some with as little as two weeks to a month notice due to pregnancy or finding some dream man and moving off to some exotic location. (Unlike the former, the latter often come back.)

Typically, there is both happiness for the retiring OL ... and grumbling too.

I’ve even heard women say it. “You hire a woman, promote her, give her responsibilities – and suddenly she just quits with a couple of weeks' notice and everyone else has to take on the responsibilities. This is why managers are reluctant to promote women.”

Statistically speaking, the grumbling isn’t just “sexist ranting.” According to a government survey, only 1 in 3 women currently take advantage of family leave laws that have been in effect for the past 12 years. One exasperated career woman tells me, “At the hospital where I worked, the personnel manager was kept busy hiring over 400 new employees this year alone.” On the other hand, two decades ago, more than 70% of Japanese women quit work after the birth of their first child. Today, 48.9% of married women work – many not so much out of career ambition, but rather out of fear that their husbands might lose their jobs.

But in relatively ideology-free Japan, it should be pointed out that “gender equality” is not as much a human rights issue as economic pragmatism. A rapidly aging population and declining birthrate have Japanese economists braced for the worst, so the government has struggled with the issue of how to encourage women to have more kids. One solution was the DPJ’s scrapped “Cash for Children” program; others have included initiatives that allow women to be able to balance between having careers and having kids. The government has also set up committee after committee and plenty of info filled websites to go with them, too.

But is it working – and is there a difference between women’s rights as a progressive human rights issue vs offering a few perks simply to get women to get cracking on the population problem?

Other questions must be asked as well. What kind of impact has the Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society made so far? Has it gone far enough? What about educational and social reform? And ultimately we must ask: Is the modern Japanese woman of today 'How To Succeed In Business’s' Rosemary, Friedan’s desperate housewife, or the modern career woman?

I hope to analyze some of these issues in upcoming stories, but in the meantime, let the discussions begin!

© Japan Today

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153 Comments
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48.9% of married women work Yes but how many of them work FT and at a living wage? I would suggest that most of these 'working" women are working part-time and under the 13 man safety net so they get hubby's pension and health care. This devalues women in the work force and makes it very difficult for those who work FT to get a decent wage. Why pay a women the same as a man when some women will work for less so she doesn't have to pay the tax for pension, health care...? I feel for the FT working women who want a career, not just some hobby to keep them busy when the kids are at school. Until Japan starts to look at child care, supporting FT working women and paying them what they deserve, the birth rate isn't going to increase.

Get rid of the 13 man cap, stop allowing other women to devalue working women in terms of salary and promotion and offer more family support to families where both parents work full time.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan is "Mad Men." I see Japan where the OLs dream of catching Mr. Right and going on to be a trophy wife. Where the older OLs are holding out for their 1mil yen per month target hubby who doesn't exist, or if he does is chasing the new 23 year old. And the real working women labor hard and have good income, but little time for anything else.

They guys are not as arrogant, most of them, as the Mad Men guys. But their expectations of women are not much different. The booze, smoking and womanizing (hostesses etc...) are all there too.

And then there are the new minded women who do want to work. But if they are not young and cute or over a certain age, their options are extremely limited and companys will come right out and say "Sorry, you are too old to hire, afterall you may get pregnant, married or are just too out of touch with young Japanese thinking."

I have been here a long time and there are many things about Japan that I love. But a young 1/2 Japanese American girl I know who came here a few years nailed it. She said I love visiting Japan. It is fun, bizzare, the shopping is great and the history is interesting. But you could't pay me to live here as a woman." And who can blame her. In the US at 35 she can change her career, her cool style shows off how well she is in touch with modern thinking, she is married but doesn't worry about balancing her career and her family she is proud of being able to do so and do both brilliantly.

That is a modern woman for the US, Europe and other places. Japan, very sadly, doesn't seem to want this kind of thinking, creative, empowered woman. It seems they prefer their women fluffy, young and subservient. Just like Mad Men.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I think it depends on the type of work though. Teachers in the public system get very well looked after in terms of child care, promotions... - and from my understanding, that goes for all public/government jobs IF they stick with them and they work hard. If these women work for a two bit family run business they are going to get treated like crap. A lot of the time, the women don't have the education, the drive nor the desire to put the hours in. I watched a lot of women in my former job complain that they didn't get promoted but they behaved like... well... little girls. They didn't want the overtime, they didn't want the pressure but they complained they got overlooked. Well no kidding! They played petty little mind games, refused to do certain things AND did act like OLs at times. I wouldn't have promoted them either.

I feel for the hard working women who do put the time, effort... in. They are the ones being screwed in all of this. Don't get me wrong, I think it is hard for j women here to get ahead but in many cases, chicken or egg? I myself would be wary of hiring a 20 something Japanese women because well, so many of them DO quit.

And yes, I agree, it is Mad Men mentality here with regards to finding a husband. I can't fault so many men not bothering with training and promoting women when so many bail anyway.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Today’s Japan reminds me a lot of that transitional period toward the early ‘60s and beginning of the ‘70s.

I couldn't agree more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I know this is a toxic phrase these days, but I really think Japan needs some affirmative action laws.

There are very clearly stereotypes about women that are not going to go away on their own, because they are so pervasive even women buy into them. The government needs to step in and open the door and the Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society simply is not enough.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Mad Men" is only a TV program. I have six young women friends 26-30 years who I often spend time with. They have all attended university. They all hold good jobs in authority positions. They work long hours when required and travel overseas for their companies. I doubt they receive equal pay with their male counterparts but they have good salaries. None are married, which is always a concern for their parents. None of these young women are anything like the women portrayed in "Mad Men". There should be a law like in other countries for equal pay.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are very clearly stereotypes about women that are not going to go away on their own, because they are so pervasive even women buy into them.

Care to suggest the stereotypes you are talking about?

Zichi, that is just it - the hard workers DO get ahead but yes, certainly not with the same pay. Mind you, that is a worldwide problem, not just Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

tmarie,

Yeah, the stereotype that women nearing their 30s are somehow a risk to an employer because they might run off once they get married or have a child. Or the one that women make decisions based on emotion and are therefor unsuited to working in the upper echelons - I think this one is more insidious because people don't talk about it openly so much, but it's definitely still alive and kicking.

The problem is that many Japanese women buy into this. I have some friends who are in their late 20s and scrambling to find a good job before they become "ineligible" for one, and I know others who have just given up and taken to working part time at coffee shops and living with their parents. I've always been shocked at how quick Japanese women are to latch on to men, but I think this is part of it - they believe their lot in life is hopeless without a man to support them, and I think good affirmative action laws would do much to ease people out of this line of thinking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Human, did you read the article above and the stats? I don't think it is a stereotype that many women here quit work once the have kids. It IS a risk to hire these women in terms of money spent on recruiting and whatnot which is why many companies don't bother with training programs for women. Does it suck? Yes but I don't blame them for it because of the number of women who do quit. It would be a waste of money to train so many women and then have many of them quit - the hospital comment was on the money. Would they stay IF they had a chance to be promoted? Doubt it because Japan doesn't support FT working mothers the way they need to. Would they stay IF Japan did? Hard to say. I tend to think not because women here seem to think that they are bad mothers if they aren't cutting out seaweed in hello kitty shapes. The notion of that needs to be dealt with.

I also think what needs to change is the mentality that they have a "right" to quit their job and be looked after by their husbands. The world has changed and you can't expect to live in a nice area, have a nice house... on one salary. Something has to give - be it their notions of working mothers or their materialistic demands.

Many women buy into the whole "I want to quit my job and stay home" but don't realise that home life today is waaaaay easier than it was years ago. With tech, there really isn't a need for a women to stay home once the kids are off to school - in my opinion. We aren't beating clothes on rocks, having to collect firewood... If Western women can do it, why can't the Japanese? I too shake my head at how women are so dependent on men here. I can only chalk it up to laziness and learned helplessness. Who to blame? Their parents- and I dare say, mostly, their mothers for raising their daughters to think they need a man to look after them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That all being said, it isn't like every male also gets promoted and training programs. I just wish equal work for equal pay. Pay the male slackers less too!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

tmarie,

Yeah, I read the article. I think a lot of the statistics were either vague or anecdotal. 50% of married women work doesn't take into account generational differences, for example. You wouldn't expect a married woman past retirement age to be working, and women in their late 40s to early 60s have a different worldview than women younger than that. I suspect if you look at married women in their early 20s to late 30s who are working, it would be a much higher number.

I don't think the problem is a lack of desire to work on the part of Japanese women. The younger Japanese women I know are often very ambitious, and a lot of them are disillusioned with the idea of marriage at all. But they still feel pressured by persistent stereotypes, and career and workplace discrimination will inevitably turn away a good number of women who are perfectly willing to work just as hard as any man.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't know the type of women described in some of the comments. A also know several women who are now in their mid 50's who are CEO's of companies, or have their own successful business. They took time off to have their children and then returned to working.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan now is nothing like America of the 60's. Completely different cultures and economic conditions. America was alreg growing economy with massively increasing population growth much due to immigration and also lots of free space. Modern Japan is almost the opposite. Japan needs to shed jobs not make more work, which reduces wages and causes social disorder as shown in the West,.

In the UK women have never been more in debt but more work than ever, kids see less of theri parents and child crime is the highest ever. Equality in pay and rights for the same job is a must but if a woman takes a lot of time off for childbirth and raising she should expect less pay for time not worked.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Base equal wages on time clocks, and then all would be fare. Work less, take home less, work more take home more. Put time clocks next to the tobacco machines too. Want to smoke, then clock out. Easy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Base equal wages on time clocks, and then all would be fare. Work less, take home less, work more take home more

If you did that, the lady who concentrates on getting her work done so that she can leave at 5 to pick up junior from day care would get paid less than the comb-over who wanders around posting on JT drinking coffee until 5, then looks busy for a couple of hours until bucho leaves. Time clocks only work for jobs where all the company needs is your physical presence. Intellectual input can't be timed.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

cleo; Maybe she should be at home looking after junior and not burdening us with subsidised child care that has no benefit to the child.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Steve,

both women and men have the right to work, and with equal opportunities and equal rewards. I guess you would oppose the idea of house husbands who stay at home to take care of the children while their wives work, usually because they are more qualified or earn more salary than their husbands.

In my time, I have worked for three female bosses and found the experience more enjoyable than working for male bosses. There was no competition between us, no need for the male bonding thing.

Even back in the 1960's, I worked with very capable female engineers.

Its the right of each person, and each family to decide how they wish to structure their lives, without interference from others. We have no right to tell another how they should live their lives.

And that includes GAY couples, who too may have children, and will need structure too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

zichi; I stated clearly i want equality. You suppose wrong, i think it is poor form if a man cannot provide enough and nature gave women the child bearinga nd rearing bodies.

You say we have no right but women are pressured to work when children are young. You are wrongly stereotyping em, i do not say women should not work, they shoudl be encouraged to stay at home when they have young children instead of costing the taxpayer more in daycare. Single working mothers cost the taxpayers more than single mothers on benefits, these are averages and not always the case.

Equality is good but we are going beyond that, . Many want women to be able to spend a large amount of their career away from work for child bearing/rearing while those who stay at work all teh time get the same pay. This is for men and women. You should not have your cake and eat it to the detriment of others.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

He has also taught English, ran a jazz izakaya

He has not taught English writing then, I take it. The past participle of run is "run", not "ran".

My gf works at an insurance company and makes less than the career track people (men and women). She also goes home at 5:30PM, unlike the career-track people. They offered to put her and her female senpai on the career track, but both turned it down. They didn't want the risk of being transferred.

According to the gf, she and her senpai do as much work as the career-track people do, in terms of the number of claims settled. What they should do is make sure everyone is pulling his or her weight and pay them accordingly. The pay is not unequal in terms of hours worked, but it is in terms of work completed.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

steve - I think we know each other's ideas on working mothers. Personally I'd rather be at home, and was lucky enough to be able to afford to. But I don't expect every other woman to make the same choices I do.

If she does the same work, she should get the same pay.

If I spend an hour turning out a darn good translation, and another person spends two hours translating something of equal length that then needs checking for quality, I do not expect that person to get twice my pay.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

cleo; I am talking about the fact that women having multiple kids and wanting the same salary is unfair. It is biased against those who want to make a career. Like is aid cake and eat it, If you want a child, look after when very young don't expect me to sbsidise its care and then you want the same pay as otehrs that choose not to have kids and put in more hours, ludicrous.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@steve,

I don't have any children, so should I object to my taxes being used to build schools. We don't have any elderly parents since they died before old age. Should I object to my taxes being used for home care? We don't have disabled children, shall I object about that? We don't use the hospitals very much too!

Young couples starting their married life are near the bottom of the food chain. Young mothers are pressurised into working mostly because of their economic situation. Often, they both need to work to pay the monthly bills.

I don't know much about daycare here but I would imagine the places are limited and some payment would be required. But if a mother does work she will also be paying taxes on her income.

At the other end of the spectrum, I know working women coming up to 60-years and due for retirement, but many are being asked to stay on, and continue working to 65.

The number of single mothers in this country is very low, I think about one million. There are about 2 million people receiving benefit, out of a working population of about 40 million.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi;You are using the tired old excuse that is outdated and irrelevent to the modern day. I have never made an objection to school building or elderly care in fact i have said i would be prepared to pay for mothers to be given decent money by the state to stay at home when kids are very young. Working and sending to daycare is bad for the child and society. These are facts and studies have shown this to be true including one by the Rowntree Foundation in 2002 (30 year study).

The cost of subsidised daycare is more than the tax brought in by these mothers, the "trend" to get these mothers out to work is to raise GDP and increase consimer spending which only helps fat cats.

Over 8 million Japanese receive welfare of some sort (not including state pensions). 1 million is not a small figure.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Nessi, the fact that she turned down the offer and leaves at 5:30 probably is an indication that she doesn't work as hard as the people who are staying late - not saying that staying late equals better work and in some cases, more work being done, but come on, usually those who stay late get more do - even if it is greasing the wheels with bosses and clients. Not sure what your intentions were with that post. Were you trying to say that she's career minded and should get more pay than the people who stay late? You can't expect me to believe your GF is career minded based on what you wrote above. Sounds like many of the j females I worked with who would rather be a temp worker than a FT worker because they wanted to travel and take months off at a time. Then they turn around and complain that they can't find a decent job and get paid crap.

As for career minded young women, we must live in very, very different Japans. I teach uni and more than 50% (and in some cases nearly 100%) of my female students claim that they want to get married and not work. Those who want get married AND work want to do PT work after the kids are in school. I have had a few females students (could count on my hands how many) who want to work, get married, have kids AND work FT. I often have a go at my females students about this type of thinking - by asking them how they will afford the things they expect to have (house, car, trips, juku for kids...), what they will do if their husband loses their job or becomes sick, gets fired or starts to abuse them. Honestly, the reaction to this makes me think that most of them have never even thought of such things. I find it said that university aged women have never thought about all this stuff.

My male students on the other hand are more modern in terms of thinking with most of them expressing that they want their wives to work FT, will help with the kids, help with housework... and I believe them. They don't freak out when I tell them how my husband helps around the house. My male students work more hours in the PT jobs, more of them live alone so know how to cook, clean, look after themselves... My female students freak out when I tell them my husbands helps. My reply? "He has to! I work!" Then I laugh when they think they can find a foreign guy to marry who will help with the housework while they stay at home.

Human, I agree with your comments about the stats being very, well, unrealiable. Though I think if you actually did a poll, you would find more working women over the age of 40 than you would of women between the ages of 25-35. Age to have kids and not work while the 40 years olds are peddling yakult bikes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Steve, you might want to look at how much these stay at home women cost us in terms of socializxation daycare (you do know that SAHM often put their kids in daycare here, right??), pension and health care. Working women who make over 13 man a month pay taxes. SAHM do not but yet, get perks for staying home.

I would also like you to post the stats for Single working mothers cost the taxpayers more than single mothers on benefits

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@steve,

The family unit remains strong, which usually means, married couples are living with one set of parents who will provide the necessary care for children, and in turn will receive care when they are too old to take care of themselves.

Providing income to mothers to stay at home would cost more than the cost of providing child care centers.

In my own family, I was the first born. On the way to work my mother would take me to her mothers house and collect me on the way home. I still remember those days and I loved being with my Nana. From 3-5 years, I went to a center which I also loved because I got to play with my friends. My mother is now 83-years and all my life I have enjoyed a wonderful love and relationship with her.

Did the Rowntree Foundation study include studying the Japanese family unit?

You contradict yourself by stating you would pay for income for stay at home mothers but object to the less costly daycare centers?

About 2-2.5 million are receiving some level of benefits which excludes unemployment and pensions.

Not all the 1 million single mothers are able to find employment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would also love to know where this myth of SAHM is "natural" and what was always done. Women have ALWAYS worked - be it gathering, out in the fields, off to the river to wash clothing, looking for firewood, water... Wet nurses are not a recent thing and if you want to look at historical "mothering" women worked in groups to look after the kids of their group. How is it any different to now with daycares while mom goes out to look to ensure her kids are fed and safe while someone else looks after the kiddies?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We have a young women friend who married into a rice farm in Kyoto. They have never heard of SAHM because even after birthing three children, she is still expected to work in the fields when needed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I now have one child still in daycare. I get a subsidy for his daycare of 10,000yen a month. I am self-employed but usually pay taxes in excess of about 30,000 a month (averaged out over the year). It would be more but since my middle child started kindergarten I have had to cut back on my work a lot because of the very short hours, and long holidays. So I cant honestly see how having my child in daycare is costing the state more than I give it.

I would love to still be working full time. Having 3 children has pretty much killed that now. It is virtually impossible to work full time without family nearby to help and our families both live plane rides away.

However, when i am not working, teaching my children, and keeping the home reasonably ticking over, i am studying to keep my skills up to date and improve them in the hope that when the children get a bit older I can go back to work full time again. The question is: will anyone have me, skills and experience or not?

If young girls who dream of marriage and quit as soon as they are swept off their feet (figuratively and literally) are so unreliable, why not employ older women who have been there, done that, and are likely to be more reliable? Maybe because they dont "decorate" the office?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nicky, I think it is because they lack working skills. I worry about this in terms of tech and computer usage and my age and I work!! Japanese women in their 40s are bubble area - many didn't work and probably have no clue how to work in an office setting! There is also the age issue in terms of kohai/sempia. A 28 year old salary men would have a heck of a time trying to figure out how to speak to 45 year old Mrs. Tanaka. Technically older but clueless and no title at work! I tend to dislike working in Japanese only environments because I refuse to just respect someone older than me because of their age. If they are good at what they do, respect. If not, why should I look up to them and speak to them as if they are better than me? It cases a ton of problems in the work setting here!

Zichi, that's just it. The whole SAHM thing is a new concept and one I think too many people have bought into. Traditionally women worked outside the home and those going on and on about moms needing to be with their kids at home, to me, don't really seem to have a clue about the thousands of years this wasn't the case. New concept and one I hope that goes away very quickly. It is going to have to with today's economy and job market. More so in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

a rice farm in Kyoto. They have never heard of SAHM because even after birthing three children, she is still expected to work in the fields

That's why Farmer Taro ends up finding himself (if he's lucky) an imported bride - Japanese ladies don't care for that lifestyle.

I get a subsidy for his daycare of 10,000yen a month. I am self-employed but usually pay taxes in excess of about 30,000 a month (averaged out over the year)..... So I cant honestly see how having my child in daycare is costing the state more than I give it.

Assuming that you'd still be paying the ¥30,000 in taxes on your income anyway, any subsidy is money people who don't get a subsidy aren't getting. It was my understanding that the cost of childcare takes parental income into consideration, so if you're earning enough to pay an average of ¥30000 in taxes I would have thought day care costs would be pretty steep. (Or are you including health insurance, pension premiums etc in that?) But really Nicky - 3 kids and a job, and you don't think you're 'working full time'? ;-)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

zichi; I do not contradict myself as children who stay at home perform better at school, have less behaviour problems and are less likely to be involved in crime when older. They are also more healthy, fitter and less likely to be obese.

tmarie; More rubbish spouted by working mothers. When we became richer and more civilised we realised that mothers staying at home benefited the child and society. In the US and UK where this was most encouraged, crime has rocketted, education standards have fallen, child abuse has risen as have crimes by youths. The social experiment has failed. A child has a right to being cared for by a family member in the first few years of life not being shipped out to paid care where care is often self regulated and poor.

Small children need a parents or close family memebers love in the formative years. Not everyone who goes to day care will do badly or turn to crime but on average it is a handicap and should not be encouraged. We wsnt the best for our children and our future, mothers love is free, daycare is not.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

cleo

That's why Farmer Taro ends up finding himself (if he's lucky) an imported bride - Japanese ladies don't care for that lifestyle.

Well in the case I commented about the young woman was a city born national. We were surprised with her decision. In the beginning she found it very hard after a very easy city life. It changed her and I would say now she is much happier and fulfilled.

I read some time back about a small group of Tokyo models who gave up their lifestyle and went off to start an organic rice farm and a new line of fashion suitable for the rice fields.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Steve,

children who stay at home perform better at school, have less behavior problems and are less likely to be involved in crime when older. They are also more healthy, fitter and less likely to be obese.

guess I can prove you wrong. I was tops at school. Became an electrical engineer and went to collage and university twice. Never been involved in crime. I'm very healthy and I'm not obese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nessi, the fact that she turned down the offer and leaves at 5:30 probably is an indication that she doesn't work as hard as the people who are staying late - not saying that staying late equals better work and in some cases, more work being done, but come on, usually those who stay late get more do - even if it is greasing the wheels with bosses and clients. Not sure what your intentions were with that post. Were you trying to say that she's career minded and should get more pay than the people who stay late? You can't expect me to believe your GF is career minded based on what you wrote above.

She works as hard as the late-stayers. You can quantify the caseload pretty easily, in terms of the number of claims settled and the types of claims you can handle. For example, arson and fatality cases require more knowledge and experience to settle, and there are ways to sniff out insurance fraud. Her late-staying co-workers, rather than greasing the wheels with clients, are superb at offending clients with their poor phone manners. One of them enraged her boss by repeatedly sighing. The boss screamed: "You sigh one more time and I WILL MURDER YOU."

I'm saying that the difference in pay is for padding out one's hours. She is career-minded in the sense that she loves her job and excels at it. But I hate to see her get paid less for doing more work in less time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi; Means nothing. You are talking about yourself i am talking about as a whole and what is best for society and especially the child. I left school at 16, no further education now self employed and making far more than average J university educated men. I am not the norm though, the world does not revolve around me, i am a small part of society.

The children are our future. Japan is relatively safe and remains so due to high family values and traditional ways to bring up children. In the West the new fangled ideas have made societies unsafe, crime ridden streets and women having higher personal debt than at any time in history. Japan must not allow itself to implode like Western countries.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

zichi - That's one lady breaking the mould. It's a fact that Japanese farmers are having trouble finding brides. And again, a 'small group of models' is not a national trend.

Nessie -

I'm saying that the difference in pay is for padding out one's hours.

It sounds to me like her refusal to be 'career-tracked' is interpreted as lack of commitment. Whether she actually is committed or not is by the by; if she reserves the right not to be transferred if and when the bosses decree it, she is not worth as much to them as someone who is willing to indicate that work is their first priority. She's allowed herself to be painted with the same brush as the women who are ready to up and off at the drop of an engagement ring.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

steve: I usually tend to ignore your posts on this topic simply because they are so predictable. And as you may know, tmarie and I have had our disagreements. This time however, she is in the right.

The idea of a stay-at-home-mom is a privilege afforded to the upper classes and that has always been the case. It is certainly not a concept made up by the modern working woman. Travel around the world a bit and you'll see that in developing countries women work. They have to! The difference being that in developed societies women also work but want careers and to be treated equally, with respect. They have gone through the same educational institutions as men, done the same work and want the same opportunities. " ...most women in Victorian society, in the two thirds of the population below the upper and middle classes, worked for wages." http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/womens_work_01.shtml

I'd like to know where your facts on skyrocketing crime and child abuse come from. Crime, violent and otherwise is at an all-time low in the U.S. and much of that is attributed to a lack of lead in paint and gasoline, lead being a major cause of brain damage which leads to violence. It has no connection to mothers working or not working. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050223145108.htm

As for a history of crime, again where are your facts? Crime has always been a part of life. The difference now is that it is widely reported, more people can read and so do read about crime, making them think it is more common now than before and the lower classes are considered (somewhat) more worthy of having crimes against them reported and recorded. Again, nothing to do with working moms. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

Child abuse. Is it something new? Hardly. Child abuse, like violence has always been with us. The difference now is in what we consider abuse and how it is reported and dealt with. Certainly having a support system in place for parents would help them in terms of dealing with the frustrations of having children. Japan has that and it's called kindergarten. As has been stated already, many stay-at-home-moms in Japan avail themselves of that system. One of the myths of the stay-at-home-mom is how happy she is when in reality many of those moms feel isolated, under-appreciated and depressed.

Let's not even get into intact families because that's going to be a very subjective topic. If by intact, you mean married, yes, more Japanese families are intact than American or British. If by intact you mean, healthy and happy, well .... Divorce is nothing new to Japan. Pre-Meiji Restoration, Japan had some of the highest divorce rates in the world, shocking Europeans with how easy and often it was done. Were Japanese families less or more intact then? Was that because of working moms?

The fact is that many women in Japan stay with their husbands because they have to do so in order to have any kind of financial security in their old age. They have to be married for 20 years in order to be able to collect half of his pension. Jukunen rikon is the largest group of divorced couples in Japan, which says something about how intact and happy those families were if they only stayed together for money. You can blame the women for being lazy or greedy but the fact is that if she delayed work or left work to have and raise children, she will be rendered unemployable or will be underutilized as a worker when she tries to re-enter the work force, making financial independence largely impossible. There is no punishment for men who don't pay child support so you can understand why women feel stuck in bad situations or don't want to have kids at all.

(Race for the Exits: The Unraveling of Japan's System of Social Protection. Leonard J. Schoppa.) (Divorce in Japan: Family, Gender and the State. Harald Fuess.)

You can continue beating the same drum, that's your right. I don't disagree with the notion that it would be best for children to be taken care of by someone who loves them but that someone can be a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, etc. Continuing to hold on to what you assume the past to have been is convenient when it suits your point but is probably less so when you consider the reality of history. Keep on truckin' though! It's amusing if nothing else.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

ambrosia; You mention developed countries have women who work, shall we emulate them? SAHM is not for upper classes and i have mentioned many times that we should pay mothers to stay at home and look after their children. Over 50% of British women of young children stay at home and i would guess in Japan it is higher. Are they all upper class?

I can back up all is ay with facts.Women who work when the child is under five do so at the detriment of the child (on average). This cannot be disputed.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Steve, I turned up pretty well, PhD, assistant professor, and two strong parents with personality, pride, and a system of values. And if I look at the successful guys in US and Europe my line of work, all that I know of had working mothers. And if my daughter's dream in life will be to marry some dude and become a housewife, I would be really dissapointed

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Steve,

Over 50% of British women of young children stay at home

your DATA must be out of date. I have read articles that in Britain the number of SAHM has plummeted by 25% in 15 years.

There are now barely more than two million stay-at-home mothers? Less than one in eight of all women bringing up children, researchers say.

Seven out of eight British mothers now work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well said Cleo with the comments regarding dedication to the job.

Nessie, you're biased. You might be surprised as to what her coworkers would say about her workload and work ethic. I know I wouldn't look too highly on any coworker, male or female, who insisted on not being relocated if that was called for in the type of work they do, let right at 5:30 if there was more work to do... If she didn't want to transfer and was expecting to move up in a career she should have done a bit more research into jobs and what expectations are with regards to different fields/companies.

Steve, still waiting for those stats.

When we became richer and more civilised we realised that mothers staying at home benefited the child and society.

Funny, I have a hard time believing we live in a "more civilised" society based on the news. Poverty is increasing, famine in various countries (most with SAHM), lots of crime...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And Cleo, indeed Japanese women don't want to marry farmers. Nor elder sons regardless of jobs/status. They don't want to do the farm work nor look after his parents. Honestly, the longer I live here, the more I see princess syndrome. Don't want to work, don't want to help with the caring of parents... but material expectations are through the roof...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes, there are plenty of things we can and should emulate from developing nations and I'd think that you'd completely agree since you seem to want to return to a (mythical) time when we were all from developing nations. I'm married to someone from a developing nation and have learned a lot from him and his family about life, lessons I wish all people from so-called developed nations would learn. Although to do so would require putting aside your "1st world" ego and arrogance, which not everyone is capable of doing.

Are 50% of British stay at home moms upper class? Probably middle-class or upper because they were able to afford educations which enabled them to get jobs which pay more than welfare benefits for staying at home. I've not been able to find exact statistics but it is fairly easy to deduce that if you can't get a well-paying job due to a lesser education, it is financially better to stay at home and collect the dole, which doesn't mean that that is necessarily what they want to be doing. And if 50% of British moms are staying at home shouldn't the crime rates be decreasing not "skyrocketing" since previous rates suggested that 2/3 or lower and lower-middle class women worked?

As for the new item that you've lifted (but not quoted) from, you left out this nugget, which concurs with what I said about childcare, "The OECD suggests that this may be to do with the quality of childcare in the UK. Good childcare is the most expensive in the Western world."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1381332/Britain-world-leader-working-mothers-And-harming-childrens-development-warn-global-report.html#ixzz1YaLVuRpd

Additionally, this larger, more comprehensive study gives different results than the one you read so yes, it can be disputed.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/7921052/Working-

"As well as examining factors like family relationships and household income, they assessed children's vocabulary, reading ability and academic test scores, and asked teachers and parents to rate their behaviour. Working mothers had better mental health, were able to build healthier relationships within the family, and boosted the household income - all of which aided the child's development, the researchers found. Children whose mothers worked were also likely to benefit from higher-quality childcare outside the home, because their parents could afford to shop around for the best nannies and nursery places. Though babies suffered some ill effects when their mothers returned to work within a year - such as spending less time interacting with a parent - the researchers found that the net effect on their cognitive and social development over time was neutral."

What societies should be doing is not debating whether or not women should work. If women want to work and are qualified of course they should be able to work. What they should be discussing is how to create a better work-life balance for men and women. They should be discussing quality, affordable child care, especially as families are now much smaller, affording children fewer opportunities to interact with other children if they don't attend childcare. They should be discussing how neighbors and communities can work together to create better lives for everyone from children to working moms, to stay-at-home moms to working dads to stay-at-home-dads, etc.

Again, you have the right to think whatever you want but having a right doesn't make you right.

Now, I'll say this as politely as possible. You can respond if you want but I won't be responding back. I know what your views are and now you know mine. Further discussion is futile and I've got better things to do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Steve,

Number of stay at home parents in the UK drops 21% from 2.8 million in 1993 to 2.2 million today.

http://www.insidemoneytalk.com/news/usw/usw376.html

Around 50,000 stay-at-home mothers have been forced back to work over the past year, official figures revealed today.

A recent survey found the majority of mothers who return to work after having a baby are forced into it for financial reasons.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1320230/50-000-stay-home-mothers-forced-work-past-12-months.html

Moderator: Sorry, the subject is Japan, not the UK.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Assuming that you'd still be paying the ¥30,000 in taxes on your income anyway, any subsidy is money people who don't get a subsidy aren't getting. It was my understanding that the cost of childcare takes parental income into consideration, so if you're earning enough to pay an average of ¥30000 in taxes I would have thought day care costs would be pretty steep. (Or are you including health insurance, pension premiums etc in that?) But really Nicky - 3 kids and a job, and you don't think you're 'working full time'? ;-)

I see your point, but on the other hand I couldnt work at all if my children were not in daycare. My point was not about the distribution of taxes, which could go on ad-inifinitum. Taxes are redistributed everywhere and often people paying taxes dont see the direct benefits to them - as Zichi pointed out as a non-parent. My point was that I dont feel a burden on the state because of the 10,000 I receive for daycare because I pay more into the system than I take from it (in terms of childcare - replying to Steves point that working Mothers are more expensive than stay at home ones receiving benefits).

On the subject of whether mothers should work rather than stay at home - well, I think there are some fabulous SAHMs, and some awful ones. Likewise with daycare. Any working Mum who cares about her children will do her best to get them into as good a daycare as possible. Personally, I think the one we use is wonderful. If I had any doubts at all about them, my kids quite simply wouldnt have gone there. I will give up working and stay at home before I put them in a place where they are not happy, and I am always very mindful of how they feel and how they are doing. The fact that my son likes to drag me into his classroom every morning, show me his seat, his friends and the toys, then says goodbye and pushes me out the door with a big kiss and smile is enough for me.

We are in a private daycare, so income is irrelevant - the cost is the cost regardless of income (about 54,000 yen and yes, a big chunk of my income, but the benefits my children and I receive from it far outweigh the financial cost from our point of view). But in fact, we researched public daycare, and would actually have had to pay the full whack anyway because of our income level - which give or take a few thousand yen was exactly the same as the private daycare cost.

I feel like I am working MORE than full time! This is 24/7 without a break, ever, the only difference comes in the "type" of work I am doing, and which "bits" I get paid for. I am insanely busy but i wouldnt swap it for anything. I feel very, very lucky and grateful to be leading this life, for everything we have (and by that I mean immaterial as well as material things). I would never be so arrogant as to complain that I am hard done by at all. The balance I have and can offer the kids is invaluable and we are all benefitting from it - right now. But there will come a time when the kids are older that I would like to return to paid work full time and I have to admit I do wonder how "valuable" I will be perceived.

I will be 40 in just over a year - that seems to be a major milestone here in Japan, in professional terms. I have already had some rather unpleasant experiences with inequality in the workplace, and I wish more than anything that in the future me and women like me will be allowed to make the contribution that many of us (spoilt princesses notwithstanding!) actually want to make to society.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I should add that I think in an ideal world - where men dont screw around on or beat up their wives, where women are supported with laws that are enforced if things go wrong, where jobs for life are guaranteed and incomes are reasonable, and respect is given to mothers of young children yes, it would be ideal for a Mother to stay at home with her children. Sadly, this is not the world the vast majority of us live in.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Nicky Washida,

you are also providing children at about 2x the national birthrate. That is a treasure in itself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This has been said before, but once again: What human in their right mind would choose to subject themselves to the dehumanizing machine that is corporate Japan? Is it that women are not driven or skilled enough to work like rats through the mazes corporations expect their employees to navigate, or is it that they are clever enough not to want to try? There is a plethora of successful women in this country, but they tend to be self-employed, entrepreneur types: Is this coincidental?

I'm not trying to beat up on anyone here. Men are expected to earn enough for a family; unless one is exceptionally talented, this generally implies attaching oneself to a company. Women are only expected to earn enough for their own upkeep, if that; their bar is far lower.

If I were a women, there is no way that I would subjugate myself to the corporate world. As a man, I am blessed to be self-employed. In either case, one takes the penalty in salary and stability, perhaps, but it is a calculated trade-off in terms of life satisfaction. It is not the case of "can't," it's the case of "can't be bothered."

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Who cares? Japan effectively missed the last forty years of social change that would have possibly allowed it to remain competitive in a global economy, where smart people, regardless of sex, are making contributions to their countries' well-being. And now the developing countries in Asia like China, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. have replaced Japan as growth markets. Japan wrote its own epitath decades ago and it is rooted in a blind adherence to a strict role-based system for men and women.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

And now the developing countries in Asia like China, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. have replaced Japan as growth markets

Hence the classification difference of "developing countries" and "developed countries".

Today, 48.9% of married women work – many not so much out of career ambition, but rather out of fear that their husbands might lose their jobs.

Interesting. 48.9% of married women work because of fear that their husbands (mostly male between the age 25~64 ) might lose their jobs. Yet the unemployment rate for male between 25~64 is roughly 5%.

I may be off base here but perhaps 48.9% of married women work to "supplement their household income".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@zichi - yep, doin` my bit for the population of Japan with pleasure (mostly!) ;-)

@tmarie

Nicky, I think it is because they lack working skills. I worry about this in terms of tech and computer usage and my age and I work!! Japanese women in their 40s are bubble area - many didn't work and probably have no clue how to work in an office setting! There is also the age issue in terms of kohai/sempia. A 28 year old salary men would have a heck of a time trying to figure out how to speak to 45 year old Mrs. Tanaka. Technically older but clueless and no title at work!

What you say makes perfect sense. I can see how this has happened. I also have quite a few friends who used to be flight attendants (dont know if that is because there are a lot of flight attendants around or that they seem to gravitate towards me!) who gave up work after having children, and cant go back to that kind of work, but have no skills for anything else. A lot needs to change before these women can go into the workplace, not least the women themselves! In my group of about 40 kindergarten Mothers that I know (who I take only as a "typical" example of Japanese mothers in their 30s-40s) only 2 are working (myself included) and only 4 that I know of are studying to improve their skills - one is American and new here so she is studying Japanese, (likely to be here long term and husband is Japanese), another is doing a computer literacy course, one wants to train to to be a teacher of JApanese for foreigners (and her husband is against her doing that saying she doesnt need to work) and the other is me - trying to get my Japanese up to JLPT1 before I keel over!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Honestly, I do chalk it up to them being spoiled, lazy princesses.... Back home now 'adult" students (often female) are increasing at universities, trade schools, various courses... because they want to ensure they have skills, a degree... to help maintain or find a job (if they quit to have kids). Here? Nope. They would rather take ikebana, tea ceremony or head to the gym rather than gain working skills. Why? Because for many of them, they don't actually want to work. Riding a yakult bike and dropping of disgusting sweet drinks for a few hours a day is a hobby and a way to get out and see people. It certainly isn't a career job, nor does it pay well. But it does give them a bit of extra pocket money that they certainly don't share with the hubby. It may certainly go towards to kids though which I guess is better than nothing. These are the types of jobs these women want and are able to do.

What happens to a women who needs a FT job with decent pay? She certainly won't find one unless she goes back to school, gets some training and even then, doubt she would make anywhere near the men. I tell my students I continue to work after getting married (and will if we have kids) because it is for MY safety. When I ask them to think abotu what they would do if their husbands died, left them, beat them and what options they would have to raise their kids and get money, they seem to get it. When I ask what their family would do if their dad lost their job they get a look of shock as they know mom certainly isn't making enough. Why on earth aren't parents, schools and society asking this of their students and young adults?? Do parents not get they are setting up their 25 year old with no job, no degree, no training for a lifetime of failure. Do they not get that the bubble is long gone and women will have to work if they want to have the same level of lifestyle as they had when they were kids? I work, I manage to have a spotless house, home cooked meals six days a week with fresh food (I refuse to buy anything frozen except meat, fish and edamame) and have plenty of free time. Why can't these women do the same? Oh right, because they don't want to and that is the issue. If more women joined the work force in professional settings, their rights, salaries... would get better because the numbers would be there to demand it.

Flight attendants... Sigh. That seems to be the goal of many of my female students who want to work. I don't get it. You are a flying waitress and will be tossed out after marriage and kids. But, but, but... they get to meet gaijin and speak English!!!! (insert eye roll). They also expect to find a rich pilot (their words, not mine) or a foreign man to marry. Means to an end with no insight as to how this job won't really look after them in the future - does indeed remind me of the 60's when it was seen to be a good job for women. Did you know they have a "walking" test? If you can't walk sexy enough, you don't get to the next round of interviews. Demeaning or what? Mind you, they really don't have any other skills so I guess it suits them well.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It IS a worry for women like me and you. I am not so worried about my technical ability - I was highly computer literate before coming to Japan (I was a systems analyst) and it is not hard to keep up to date with new releases when you have a foot in the door already and know what you need to be studying/using. I also have the fact that I am a foreigner, female, and fluent in Japanese and English, and with two other languages (that need a little work but Ill get there!) on my side. I see this as a benefit in that it sets me apart from the masses and makes me different. The whole "nail that sticks up gets hammered down" thing is one of many fallacies I believe (in my slightly paranoid, conspiracy theory way!) have been encouraged to keep people nicely under control. Taint gonna work with me.

But despite all the skills and experience I will be able to bring to the table one overriding thought in this country and culture still haunts me that I think is going to have a big impact on my ability (or otherwise) to get hired in the future - how is my ass gonna look 5 years from now??! Sad, but true!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Seems like the most mums choosing to work who post here have serious issues. We have fear of futire employment and ridiculing the local women for being different.. Cleo seems to be the only one happy with her working life in Japan.

"spoilt princesses". Guess i would prefer one of them than having an ear bashing daily from someone with a superiority complex.My wife has neevr had big employment ambitions, not spoilt, a hard working woman devoted to her family and prepared to work if need be. Seems like some want to change Japan into an inferior Western society with huge unemployment and social division.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

It would seem that those on here bashing working mothers with no real clue or understanding as to why they feel they need to work have some pretty serious issues too.

I am very happy with my working life here - as I think I made perfectly clear in one of my previous posts. I am concerned about the future. Who isnt? Nothing is certain anymore, and I dont consider planning for that future and considering what options are open and what skills necessary to be a bad thing at all.

You may not want to be married to a woman with professional ambitions Steve, but I dare say none of them would like to be married to you either, so everyones happy!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ms Washida; I think personal attacks liek that are very cheap and vulgar. matreilistic lifestyles rae modern and do not often equate to happiness. You are concerend about your looks re employment, that is not a good way to feel to be honest. You seem to think "professional working mothers" are better than others. So the supermarket girl is lower than you? If you don't have confidenec in your ability to succeed you are failing yourselfa nd your family, Instead of worrying about the future economic situation get on with life and make your family and self happy,

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I think we should let the women of Japan decide how they work/live/raise their kids without a lot of 'they shoulds'. I really wouldn't like Japan to become like the US with a 50% divorce rate and tons of kids born out of wedlock, a marriage strike, and all that. The US model ain't working so well, do we really want to push it on other nations?

Perhaps they can strike a balance within their own culture. Women give birth, and I don't see that changing any time in the future. Whether a woman wants to work or wants to raise her own kids is perhaps best decided on an individual basis and family circumstances. For women who work, affordable plentiful daycare is a must, I'd like to see more daycare availability throughout Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ms Washida; I think personal attacks liek that are very cheap and vulgar.

yes, I agree with you Steve, so perhaps you should give it a rest now, hey?

You seem to think "professional working mothers" are better than others. So the supermarket girl is lower than you?

That is not something I have ever said. That is simply something you are presuming.

If you don't have confidenec in your ability to succeed you are failing yourselfa nd your family, Instead of worrying about the future economic situation get on with life and make your family and self happy,

I have every confidence in myself (the looks comment was a joke and an observation on society, not me personally. Just for the record my ass is perfectly fine.). I am concerned about the future, (I think "worrying is too strong a word) but I think anyone with any business sense at all should be. The whole ability to stay marketable is based on spotting trends and adapting to them.

And I think I have made it adundantly clear that we ARE all happy!

In your position, running your own business, your wife can step in if needs be. That is a good situation to be in, but most people are not in that kind of situation. Women can feel insecure and vulnerable. Perhaps their husband is cheating on them, maybe even threatening to leave? Perhaps his job is on the line and the company has been threatening lay-offs for months? Perhaps things are fine, but they have married someone for love, not money, and he is not in a position where he is well paid enough to be able to afford school fees, or even a decent place to live and good food on the table. Perhaps he is ill? Disabled in some way? Perhaps there are elderly relatives that need hospital care that needs to be paid for?

These are just some of the many reasons why mothers are working. Not everyone - as I have said many times - is fortunate enough to be in a position such as yours.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ms washida; It is not my fault that there are so many bad husbands. I am even getting picked on for looking after my family financially (by another poster).Also many women like men are only suited to lower skilled employment. There is no need for constant employment advances.

I think that in Japan there is a problem with men leaving or divorcing and leaving their family in a poor financial state due to lack of enforcement of laws. I find this queer, especially as this is a country where the man is expected to provide and family is supposed to come first.

I doubt there are many circumstances where a man cannot provide basics in this day and age. Of course there should be a welfare safety net for those who cannot work or need help. In Japan that safety net is poor as i know well re my MIL.

We are meant to be progressing as societies yet it seems evident that we are looking at a future where we may see husband and wife working full time just to survive and the family apart most of the time. This is morally wrong but is being accepted as the norm. If a woman wnats to work it is up to her, but in the modern age with our rich developed countries why should everyone be working like this just to survive? It' reminds me of former Soviet Nations except we have freedom of speech and demonstartion yet fail to use them properly.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

IMO, Japan is the best place on Earth to be a woman. For me it all comes down to the laws of the land.

Here women get everything. Men get nothing. There's a definite facade that makes the men look like they're are boss but the truth is they fall like dominos.

Naturally, we are all going to disagree. We can agree on that point right? Who has it best depends on the measuring tool. I invite you to respond with what you think.

Quality of life - Women!!! Stay at home, discounts almost everywhere they go and most importantly - TIME to enjoy life.

Money - Women!!! At first it would appear that they don't make that much but the truth is, they don't have to. When they go for divorce they can first take all the money in the bank (fair game). Then go to family court and get the rest INSTANTLY before any testimony is even heard.

Career Choices - Men!!! Congratulations, you won in this category. But guess what! Working all your life sucks. You're wife is at home watching the mid-day movie at 1:30 or having lunch with friends (with or without baby). On payday you give your entire income to her anyway.

Children - Women!!!! Here in Japan women can openly hold your children at ransom. You don't have a right to see your children if you are the father. IT's all up to her. There's no enforcement of visitations. You better pay her and kiss her royal buttocks if you want to see your kids. A totally broken system that leaves fathers without their children. Furthermore, if you don't pay the courts will ENFORCE collecting money from you. So you lose!!! 18 years of child support and you NEVER get to see what you're paying for. This is a monster win for women.

Women win here!!! If you're a woman enjoy!!! All these working men in this country are your slaves. Seriously, it's a facade. You don't have to sit in a leather chair to be The WOMAN in charge.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I find this queer, especially as this is a country where the man is expected to provide and family is supposed to come first.

Steve, to be honest I dont think you and I are as far apart on this issue as it would seem sometimes. I agree with you that this is a country where the man is expected to provide, but I absolutely disagree that family is supposed to come first. They come a very distant second after the company in my experience.

I know of many people whose families have been forced apart as the companies send the men away to work at the other end of the country or even overseas and wont allow the family to go too. Just last July, my friend and her 6 year old son was told they wouldnt be allowed to accompany her husband to Germany because "he needs to focus on his work there, and not be worrying about his wife and son" - his bosses exact words. Another friend of mine has been sent to a place in China so dangerous that he cant allow his wife and son to join him. They have been separated about 9 years now, and he returns home twice a year. I have many examples but these are a taster of how these companies seem to think.

but in the modern age with our rich developed countries why should everyone be working like this just to survive?

THIS I think is the most important question of today! Why indeed with all our mod-cons, time-saving gadgets and so on are we busier and more stressed than ever? Upward shifting expectations maybe? With more media access more people are seeing how the "other half" live and wanting a taste of the pie? Breeding dissatisfaction with what we have? I have friends in the UK who tell me - seriously - "they have to work because they have to pay the mortgage" (on their massive house), or they "have to have 3 holidays a year" and so on.

I honestly dont know the answer. My reasons for working are honestly too personal to go into detail in on here, suffice to say that the only person I have ever known I can truly depend on is myself. I agree with you that that is a serious issue for me, but it is something I have to live with and manage as best I can.

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netninja - are you actually IN Japan??! Almost everything you have said can be refuted! The only thing I think is right is that - very generally - women get custody of the children BUT only if the men actually agree to it and dont come from a powerful family. Koizumis wife lost her son in their divorce. Another woman who has posted on here lost her baby boy to her ex who picked him up from daycare and spirited him away and his family told the courts she was an unfit mother - boom. Gone. And if you are a foreign Mother - absolutely forget it. No rights whatsoever. I know of many divorces where the children are divvied up like furniture and lose contact with each other.

Granted there are some dispicable women who use their children as pawns in some game of grabbing what they can. But there are men who do the same.

What about the women whose husbands beat them and they cant leave because they have nowhere to go? What about the ones sitting home lonely night after night while he is out with every 20-something in the office? What about the ones that want to work but are not allowed to - husbands/in laws forbid it. How about the ones who live with their in laws and are constantly bullied by them?

Dont you think if it was that easy that you could go to court in a divorce and get all the money more women here would be divorcing? I dont know of a single court case ever where maintenance payments were actually enforced by a Japanese court. The vast majority of times the women are on their own and the men start a new life with a new wife.

Im speaking generally. I know you are too. But to presume that life here is some kind of utopia for women - that is way too much of a stretch.

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Ms Washida; Exactly, there are serious issues here whcih are not being dealt with. Issues that divide families and society in moral and economic standards. We are being fed lies about how "great" modern life is compared to before etc... Here is a personal example. In the early 70's my father was the firts in my family to have a "professional" job, he joined the Met Police, in those days an aptitude test rather than degree was acceptable.In two years he saved enough to put a deposit on our first house, a 3 bed semi in Croydon. He probvided for the family while my mother stayed at home.,We went for nothing, had quite expensive hobbies and annual holidays. In 2011 those houses and lifestyle are out of the price of a policeman, it would take two higher earners to think of affording that lifestyle. This downward slide in our finances is seemingly overlooked and brushed aside by society, If a woman wants to stay at home and bring up her small children, why isn't that affordable? Football stars get paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, yet we have kids in poverty. Progress?

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You wont find me arguing with you on this one Steve. I have almost exactly the same experience with my father - substitute police for customs and excise and 3 bed in Croydon for 4 bed in Sussex and we have the same deal (except we didnt have annual holidays - dont let me get into that one though!).

If a woman wants to stay at home and bring up her small children, why isn't that affordable? Football stars get paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, yet we have kids in poverty. Progress?

Exactly! And I saw a study not so long ago where they asked a whole bunch of children in the 70s what they wanted to be when they grew up. Answers were things like doctor, nurse, teacher, pilot. They asked the same question to primary school kids a few years ago. Typical answers: footballer, pop singer, reality TV star. How achievable are these dreams for 99% of UK kids? Yet the media gives them the impression that all they have to do is be filmed 24/7 in a big house with a bunch of other nobodys for a few weeks and boom! if they can behave outrageously enough they`re on their way to being rich and famous. And when that doesnt happen - dissatisfaction sets in at the "unfairness" of it all, dissatisfaction turns to anger, anger turns to violence - and hello London riots.

when you glamourise the behaviour of people like Ryan Giggs and Rebecca Loos (who? exactly!) this is what you get.

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"She noted how their entire identity was dependent upon that of the success of their husband, and argued that in order to find fulfillment, women too needed to find meaningful work just as men do in order to find fulfillment in their lives."

Mad Men is different from Japanese SAHM's because they rarely care a hoot about the success of their husband, so long as he brings home the cash. Western women are taught to think that success in the world of work is important, individuality is important, achieving somethign unique, and ideally fame is important, so Western SAHMs have to get their success kicks vicariously. Japanese mothers, on the other hand, are taught and believe that to be a mother is cool and fulfilling, at the very least more so than being a company employee, so their husbands success is irrelevant so long as financially, it makes their mothering possible.

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cleo wrote: if she reserves the right not to be transferred if and when the bosses decree it, she is not worth as much to them as someone who is willing to indicate that work is their first priority

They may think she is not worth as much, but judging from her clearance rate, which blows away her coworkers', they are incorrect in thinking that.

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Nessie, the bosses may well be incorrect and they may be cutting off their own noses. But if the company rules say that career-track employees get paid more than non-career-track, and she turned down the offer of being career-tracked...isn't that her choice?

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I love my job and am sure I will continue to love it of we have sprogs.

Steve, if you dropped dead tomorrow, what would your wife do for money for the rest of her life?? I doubt you have that much saved, she wouldn't get a pension... Have you never thought about this??

Nicky, I worry about it. We keep discussing kids but yes, I am worried about schools not wanting me because I have kids. I work with a women who just had to quit a few classes because... someone (gaijin male stuck in the dark ages) actually complained to one school that he thought she wasn't "fit" to work PT classes because... she was taking too many days off for her kids (I believe it was one when her child was sick). Her bosses rolled his eyes but did let her know and well, she gave up the classes. Utter shock. I know that if this was "home" I wouldn't have an issue but here?? Not so easy.

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Nessie, "blows away"? Are you seeing this stuff firsthand or just going on what your GF states? You might be surprised that people who brag abotu their working skills tend to be well, not as skillful as they think.

matreilistic lifestyles rae modern and do not often equate to happiness Not kidding eh? Perhaps you should take a look at which country has a very, very high rate of non-working women with brand name bags and demands for more. You might also want to look at the quality of life indexes released every few years. Japan certainly isn't winning awards there.

As for the common about divorce rates, it IS an issue for many countries. Japan is number 7 or 9 (can't remember which). Then look at all those women here who want to divorce but can't because... they don't have the means to support themselves. Instead they are stuck in DV marriages, loveless marriages and are pretty unhappy. That leads to unhappy kids and unhealthy social relations for them. Often divorce is a much better option in my opinion - of course, for those working women who don't need a man's money.

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tmarie; Why do you doubt that i haven't sorted my family out? I have businesses that my wife is capable of supervising and life insurance and a private pension with 18 years of payments. Some of us men do look after our families properly.

You are also unaware of modern business and how governemnts have allowed this scandal to happen, I also notice you remark about me and ignore Nicky who was saying teh same thing, how terribly queer. My wife is Japanese and NEVER ask for brand things. Stop stereotyping Japanese women. Your opinion about divorces is just that opinion and has no validity. Children with mothers staying at home are on average better at school , healthier and less likely to commit crimes in adulthood.

Why should a small business have to pay thousands to subsidise a woman to take time off whenever they want a child, hire temp staff and give the woman the same pay as others on return? Many small businesses in UK are cautious about hiring young women full time because of this. This is not equality it is pro active discrimination against mena nd women who wish to remain childless.

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Steve, most people don't have it sorted out. I don't assume anyone has it sorted out if their spouse were to die unless they are millionaires with good lawyers! Is she really capable of looking after it or do you just assume she could? Does she know who to contact, your password numbers, the bank account numbers... Rather aware of this which is exactly why I question whether your wife could just pick up and carry on the business without actually working there now - or helping out now.

Have no idea what you are referring to with ignoring Nicky's comments. Stereotyping? I don't think it is when it is based on facts with regards to brand name shops and consumer goods. I am happy to hear your wife isn't like that but many, many are. A quick look around at a cafe packed with housewives would let you see differently. I certainly don;t think all Japanese women are brand-name junkies but there are more than a few out there.

Again, make these comments with SAHM producing better kids but I haven't seen any links. Perhaps I missed them?

Who said anything about expecting women who were gone getting the same pay when they come back? Certainly not I! I also don't think they should be allowed to waltz back into the same job title if they have been away from work and are behind in what is going on. I don't blame small companies for worrying about such issues - I would as well. But then again, with the laws as they are in the UK, you would also have to worry about the men as well as they have rights now to take child care leave too. Why can't the government use their tax money that they pay to help them with such things? Two income families certainly pay more taxes than a single income family in most cases - unless one has an amazing job with millions. Why can't they have their tax money back in terms of childcare?

Do you agree with the 13 man cap for women in Japan? Do you think it is fair that companies have to chip in extra money to hubby for his wife to be at home? Most companies here actually pay people based on how many dependents they have. How is that far to those with no wife, no kids who work just as hard and produce just as much? Why do companies offer spousal support for when they move abroad? Do you think that is fair to the company?? How about that money goes to company daycares instead?

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Repost

I love my job and am sure I will continue to love it of we have sprogs.

Steve, if you dropped dead tomorrow, what would your wife do for money for the rest of her life?? Have you never thought about this??

Nicky, I worry about it. We keep discussing kids but yes, I am worried about schools not wanting me because I have kids. I work with a women who just had to quit a few classes because... someone, a gaijin male, actually complained to one school that he thought she wasn't "fit" to work PT classes because... she was taking too many days off for her kids (I believe it was one when her child was sick). Her bosses rolled his eyes but did let her know and well, she gave up the classes. Utter shock. I know that if this was "home" I wouldn't have an issue but here?? Not so easy.

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tmarie; What passwords wouldn't my wife know. I told she is looked after i do my duty as a husband. She has access to everything i do and i will repeat again that she has done the job when i am away. Quiet easy to be ok if not millionaires, be frugal, don't waste money on clubs, bars and designer rubbish and don't follow trends.

The facts are and i have provoded links before that children with mothers at home perform better on average, it's a fact beyond dispute, well in UK anyway.

I have said repeatedly that i am all for equality, complete equality but most importantly in this matter is a childs rights.Nature intended women to bare children and nurture them until they have some form of independent thinking. Unfashionable but true.

Moderator: Stay on topic please. The UK is not relevant to this discussion.

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Computer password for example. I assume you keep files password protected.

What rights do a child have that wouldn't be met with a child in daycare? Again, i think you need to take a look at how the family unit was hundreds of years ago, not the last 50-100 if you think it was common for a mom to spend ALL day with their kids.

Independent thinking eh? You do realise we're in Japan, right?

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tmarie -

I don't understand your getting at steve over his preparations should he drop dead tomorrow. Virtually the first thing Mr Cleo did when we got married was increase his life insurance and change the name of the beneficiary from his Mum to me. I thought that was what all married couples did as a matter of common sense. (He's also the beneficiary on my life insurance). I'm surprised you think 'most people don't have it sorted out' and fair gobsmacked at the idea that only millionaires with good lawyers have anything sorted at all. What do you think insurance is for?

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Human beings are a lot more complicated than bears etc. Human beings have a much more complicated social structure to learn and integrate into. I think it's beneficial for a mother to raise her own child, or at least have as much time as possible with him/her. 'Hundred of years ago' groups of women may have looked after all their children together, but that's not the same as putting them in daycare with caretakers who may change frequently, and have no personal interest in each child.

DH has his own business , and so we're each insured to the eyeballs :-D in case anything happens to us, we can provide for our employees, pay off the residual money owed after building the business and to see that family is taken care of.

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tmarie; You seem to assume a lot about me. My wife and i know each other passwords and pins for everything, don't every married couple do the same? Also of course i have made provisions to ensure my family is ok should i pass away.

Himajin; Of course you are correct re childcare but that view is unfashionable on this site.I have said before a child needs love from a family member usually the mother not paid for baby sitting by strangers.

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Hence the classification difference of "developing countries" and "developed countries".

Nigelboy -- Wow, really? What an insight. But, as usual, it misses the point. Japan is not simply a "developed" country, it is a declining one. Steeply declining. And much of the reason it is is because it refused to give up social and economic models better suited for the 1960's than the 2010's. By basically pushing half of its talent pool, women, into a traditional role, it has lost ground competitively in a global economy. And, it is likely too late for that to be turned around, as young women today are still taught it is more important to be kawaii, than brilliant or successful.

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Data from a 2005 survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Percentage of children in day care centers by age.

Each age from 0 to 5 years, there are populations around one million for each year.

Percentage of children in day care.

Years

0 year: 12% 1 year: 23% 2 year: 31% 3 year: 38% 4 year: 39% 5 year: 39%

From that, the majority of children are not in child care day centers. Further data.

http://www.childresearch.net/PROJECT/ECEC/asia/japan/report10_01.html

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zichi; Let's keep i that way, at home with mum, cared for by the one who loves them, not strangers who do it for cash.

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Cleo, do you think everyone has life insurance?? Do you think everyone just changes theirs over so their spouse gets covered? They don't in both accounts. I don't have life insurance but I certainly having investments and saving but not life insurance. Willing to bet the majority of people don't have it. I don't like the notion of saving for something I can't benefit from. Investments on the other hand can be just as beneficial but are often more flexible.

I also don't think I am giving Steve a hard time at all - just merely asking if he thinks his wife will be looked after if he drops dead. Seems he's done a good job. Do you honestly think a 30 year old salary man with a wife and two kids can say the same? I don't. I also don't think her parents or his parents have prepared and saved enough to look after her or her kids - school fees, university, day to day... The wife would have to get a job. Where would she get a living wage if a) she hasn't worked, let alone FT, for years b) has no real work skills c) has a bunch of other moms who will work for under 13 man a month? Not exactly reassuring is it?

And even with your examples, where does mom get the food? SHE goes and leaves the kiddies alone when they are really young to go get the food. The idea of human mothers staying at home and not working is a recent thing. Squat, have the kid int he field, keep on working, allow old siblings to look after the younger ones while mom goes and helps with the farm, goes off to the river for water, to wash clothes, tends to the fire... The idea of staying home, sending the kids of to social daycare while mom gets the shopping done is... new. Very new. Certainly I think it works for some but to suggest that a mother is bad for not staying home is unfair, not realistic and very new.

Himajin, fair point on the turn over but do you really think that daycare workers don't feel attached to the kids they look after? Shame if you think that. I teach and I can tell you I worry about my students, I want the best for them, I stay after class and make time for them... Many daycare workers probably feel the same. I know my friends who work with small children just love the ones they look after and there are tears every year when they leave. How about mothers who don't do a good job, ignore their kids and don't look after them properly. Being a mother doesn't mean they do an excellent job. If it did, we wouldn't have infanticide, mothers killings their toddlers, kids being left in cars to die... Perhaps if these women had their kids in some sort of care while they worked, this wouldn't happen? No idea as I doubt there is research on that but lots of mothers do get fed up with their kids - only natural - and need a break. For some, work is that break.

Steve, why do you assume babysitters are strangers? Grandma isn't a stranger. A kid going to the same school with staff that doesn't have a high turn over aren't strangers. Credit will it is due, you've done well to look after your wife's future if you were to go. Thing is, that can't be said for everyone. If it was, we wouldn't have issues with window women needing work.

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tmarie basically said everything I was going to say!

I would just add - the reason for this ongoing argument here that has been, what? nearly a year now? is that I dont think for a minute you can say "all mothers are good" or "all daycares are bad". I think we need to DITCH this theory entirely once and for all and all - surely - agree on the theory that QUALITY care for a child during the day, where its physical and emotional needs are attended to, is the single most important factor. Whoever provides that care, it needs to be quality care. It could be the mother, grandmother, a wonderful nanny or babysitter, or yes, a daycare. It is not possible to say "yes, but quality care can only come from the mother" because it is patently not true - refer to the crime section here on JT anytime for proof of that (isnt the latest one a drug addict mother who pimped her daughter from age 11/12?)

I love my kids above all else - do you think for a second I would send them somewhere where I thought they werent going to get the very best care possible? They do things there, and have experiences there that I simply cant provide them with if I was home alone, and they flourish from it - it is plain to see. BUT I concur that i have seen some pretty awful daycare environments.

I have a wonderful friend who is homeschooling her 4 children. We get together regularly and talk about this issue a LOT as you can imagine, and our children get together a lot too. Although they have come from opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of early years, they are all very similar. They share, they squabble, they sort it out between them. They are all basically very good kids. The overriding factor (we feel) is that they know, without a shadow of a doubt, every minute of their day, that they are loved and cherished and wanted. I only wish that every child, at home or at daycare, could feel the same. THAT is what causes behavioural problems in children - lack of self-esteem, and lack of stability in their life.

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I dont think for a minute you can say "all mothers are good" or "all daycares are bad". I think we need to DITCH this theory entirely once and for all

I couldn't agree more, Nicky - and I think it's only tmarie and steve who are taking the opposite extreme standpoints.

they know, without a shadow of a doubt, every minute of their day, that they are loved and cherished and wanted. I only wish that every child, at home or at daycare, could feel the same.

This.

tmarie - about life insurance, maybe it's just the circles I move in, but yes, I was/am under the impression that having life insurance - if you're single, enough at least to cover your funeral, if you're married enough to cover whatever responsibilities you have taken on - was the normal, sensible thing to do. I can't say it's something I ever even wondered about, to me it seems such a no-brainer..... But you tell me No, you don't have it, you don't want it. I suppose different folks have different priorities, but I must admit, you've surprised me on this one.

Do you honestly think a 30 year old salary man with a wife and two kids can say the same? I don't

Mr Cleo was a bit over 30 when he had a wife and two kids, but yes, he made sure he had enough insurance to cover things if he died. My sil is not yet 30 and only 1 kid, plus a working wife - but I know both have adequate life insurance. When my son started working the first thing his Dad advised him to get organised was a life insurance policy that he can upgrade if and when he marries and has kids. I really can't see why people wouldn't.

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I think that maybe - and excuse me for putting words into your mouth tmarie - the reason tmarie hasnt considered it yet is because maybe they dont need to? If they have investments that will see them through if the worst happens. If they both have good jobs and can continue working if anything happens to either of them. If they dont yet have children - these things take away some of the sense of needing a safety net to fall back on, especially if they already have investments.

We didnt really consider insurance too closely until we got a mortgage here in Japan. I had it as I had a house in the UK, but he didnt. And up until we got the mortgage together and the children were born we didnt really need it. Now we do, and we have each other covered - so there will be no mortgage and a good lump sum to get me through about 10 years if Im careful if anything happens to him, and enough money for childcare and home assistance if anything happens to me. We also have cover if one of us becomes ill with a long term debilitating illness such as cancer. So I feel pretty safe now.

Its not enough to make me want to send him up on the roof in a typhoon to fix the tiles(!), but its enough ;) ! Oddly enough though, he did send ME out in the typhoon to secure the bunny house....? MAybe Im worth more than I thought??!

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How am I speaking in extremes here? I support the notion that some women want to stay at home. Thing is, I also support that some women want to work. Thing is I don't think many women are being realistic in terms of what stating at home entails and cost.

I surprised you Cleo?! Wow! That surprises me. Most people my age have no life insurance. Many of my friends don't even have investment which shocks me. I started investing when I got my first job out of uni and haven't looked back. Many back home spend their 20s paying off student loans. Many young Japanese have nothing except a bank account or something their company sets up for them.

Do you really think a 40 year old man has enough to pay for a house, food, uni for two kids and a wife to live comfortably until she's 80?! If a 40 year salary man drops dead tomorrow sorry but his life insurance isn't going to cover all the expenses. I am rather shocked you think it would come close. If this wasn't an issue people wouldn't worry about the national pension collapsing, the cost of things... Many families here and beyond are living well past their means. Life insurance isn't enough in this day and age if abhusband dies. In your cases and in Steve's you're older which might be why you think you'll be okay. You probably will be. If my 30 something husband dies tomorrow, heaven forbid, I promise you his investments, his company savings... Will certainly not last me a lifetime. I don't expect it to though. Boggles my mind that some think it would.

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How am I speaking in extremes here?

With your assertions that people who prefer to be sahms when their kids are little are accusing working mothers of being 'bad mothers'. steve at the opposite extreme might be saying that, but the rest of us aren't. That, and your insistence that all Japanese women/sahm are airheads interested in nothing but lunch with the girls and shopping.

Do you really think a 40 year old man has enough to pay for a house, food, uni for two kids and a wife to live comfortably until she's 80?!

No of course not - that's why they need insurance. If Mr Cleo had dropped dead at 40 the mortgage had its own compulsory insurance, his life insurance would have covered uni for the kids and basic living expenses, and I could have stayed at home for a few years until the kids were old enough for me to go out to work. If I'd dropped dead, he would have had enough to pay for whatever childcare/household help was needed to allow him to carry on earning a living while ensuring the kids were OK. As it turned out neither of us dropped dead at 40 so all the insurance premiums were 'wasted'.......Perversely, I see this as a Good Thing. Now the kids no longer rely on us, we've cut back on the insurance because we don't need the huge safety net we once did.

If my 30 something husband dies tomorrow, heaven forbid, I promise you his investments, his company savings... Will certainly not last me a lifetime.

And why should they? You'd be a single woman, perfectly capable of earning her own living and happy to do so. Get a couple of kids under your belt, and the view of the horizon changes, as Nicky also points out.

he did send ME out in the typhoon to secure the bunny house....? MAybe Im worth more than I thought??!

Nah Nicky, he just loves the bunny....lol

Lucky bunny.

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I certainly don't think they are all airheads. Just many of them! ;). So you would have had to go back to work?! My point exactly!

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tmarie; i am certainly not an old fogey. I secured a private pension and insurance when younger which often meant when younger lack of money for dining out or clubbing. My wife is Japanese and needs to stay home to do her duties, there is no option for her to work. If i did not bring in decent income there would be trouble but that is because if a Japanese wlefare stsytem that expects an old housebound woman to live on less than 90,000 Yen a week with one hour a week paid for care by governemnt. Many Japanese women stay at home doing a good job looking after children and elderly parents. In the part of Japan i live in almost all families have gran and grandad residing with them or on the same street. Maybe this is old fashioned and the same everywhere in Japan but it wors here and the community is strong.

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And as you said, you "wasted" money which is why I have investments, not life insurance. I just do love how Nicky isn't patronizing about the matter while your posts...

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tmarie; Congratulations for you. Shame you didn't invest in a good manners course. You assume i don't have funds to support my wife if i passed away, say women like my wife are "spiolt princesses" then call another poster patronising.

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You assume i don't have funds to support my wife if i passed away, say women like my wife are "spiolt princesses"

To be fair to tmarie - in my experience too a lot of young men DONT have funds to support their wives and/or family if the worst should happen. My husband has come home in the past and told me stories of having these kinds of conversation with his friends and finding none of them have savings, none have life insurance, nothing.

Not all men are as good to their wives and families or as forward-thinking as Steve and Cleos hubby, sadly, so it is not an unreasonable assumption to make without knowing any facts.

I also dont think tmarie was calling your wife a spoilt princess because the women she is referring to - those who stay home and DO NOTHING but shop, get their nails done and lunch in posh restaurants - are obviously nothing like your wife who clearly works very hard caring for her family and doesnt have a brand bag to her name (neither do I and it is something I am quite proud of!)

Lucky bunny.

Oh Cleo, that rabbit! Now THERE is a spoilt princess! or prince, I suppose. My daughter would have him manicured and eating the finest designer carrots if I let her!

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So you would have had to go back to work?! My point exactly!

No, it isn't your point at all. I planned to work once the kids were old enough anyway; I've worked since the younger child entered kindergarten. I've simply been lucky in that circumstances have allowed me to work from home, which is much more flexible than having to commute to an office an hour away. If we'd planned for me to be a 'kept woman' all my life - if I'd been unqualified, uneducated, disabled, like steve had in-laws needing to be looked after, otherwise unable to earn a living - then we'd have arranged the insurance accordingly.

We 'wasted' money on insurance in the same way you 'wasted' money on yesterday's lunch - weren't you hungry again by dinnertime? And the way the stock market and the economy are going, good luck with those investments....

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Just an aside: do they have life ASSurance in japan? One of those things that is like insurance AND an investment lumped into one? So you pay a set amount over a period of time, and if something happens you get an insurance pay out, and if not, then eventually you get the sum plus interest paid to you?

I am all for insurance - my Dad collapsed suddenly and died when my parents were on holiday in Hong Kong. It was a bureaucratic mess, but thanks to the insurance company, and the fabulous British embassy, we were able to sort everything and repatriate him within about 10 days. On his death Mum received enough money to sort everything out immediately, and then enough to keep her comfortable for the rest of her life. She was only 52 when it happened (he was 54) so thank God for his fastidiousness with money.

Perhaps maybe this is why we are more careful compared to a lot of our friends, because of that personal experience.

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Just an aside: do they have life ASSurance in japan? One of those things that is like insurance AND an investment lumped into one? So you pay a set amount over a period of time, and if something happens you get an insurance pay out, and if not, then eventually you get the sum plus interest paid to you?

Yes. We got one for each of the kids to cover health costs and (heaven forbid) death and that paid out a lump sum before university entrance expenses, which we renewed for a further 10 years and handed over to them to continue the premium payments when they started earning. The post office one also covers the premiums in the event of the person paying the premiums dying.

Sorry to hear about your father. That's awfully young and would have been a nightmare even without the problem of repatriation. Insurance is something you never want to use, but invaluable when needed.

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Ms Washida; Sorry to hear about your father. I guess he was from the same time as my father when the nan from the Pru came every week and these companies were trusted. My father always drummed into us when you to make sure you are covered if anything happens . It may not be death but may be an accident which prevents working and funds are needed just to live and support the family. It is always better to be cautious with these things even if you don't end up with the best pay out. The fact that many men do not get insurance or even pensions is another reason given that women with toddlers need to work. The question should be "why aren't men looking after their families financially?"

We are living in a material society where success is judged by income not happiness. Money does not equal happiness, i was happy on a YTS when 16 earning 25 GBP a week. Unfair pressure is placed on women to work instead of staying at home, this has not happend yet in Japan and i hope it will not.

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My Dad was the same Steve - bricks and mortar and "always have a plan B" were his other words of wisdom when I was growing up(!) - advice that I have also always heeded, but I never imagined that he would demonstrate his lessons quite so literally! Which is why I share the story now - because many people dont bother with insurance, thinking "what are the chances?" - well, my family are living proof that the proverbial brown sticky stuff really does happen

I`ve never even really thought about working because of a lack of insurance or pension. Ive only just found out (through a comment on JT) that if we are married less than 20 years I am not entitled to any of my husbands pension under J law. I am assuming this is if we divorce. Surely if he dies I am entitled to it, but who knows?

I dont have much of a pension as I am not paying much into it at the moment, but I have a little from back in the UK when I worked, and the rest is in property and other investments. I hope and pray when the time comes that I am not a financial burden on my children.

We are living in a material society where success is judged by income not happiness. Money does not equal happiness,

yes, we are, which brings us back to your original question Steve - when, how and why did all this change? And can we ever go back? Can where we are now really be defined as "progress"? The gap between the haves and have nots seems to be forever widening. I did some research for a business contact of mine last year, and some of the figures I found were frightening:

Relative poverty in Japan is the second worst in the developed world, after the United States. (2007 OECD report)

More than 80 per cent of 35-year-olds in Japan live on an annual income of two million yen – a key poverty benchmark. (Weekly Diamond, Business Magazine)

The generation aged 35+ experienced adult life during the economic boom. But the current generation have never known a boom economy with abundant cash, job opportunities and critically, optimism in the future, only economic recession with occasional upturns that have not affected their daily lives. Hence some are "giving up".

The income gap between 正社員 (permanent employees) and groups such as 派遣 (contract workers) is widening.

The average annual pay of men in their 20s now stands at ¥3.25 million, (National Tax Agency figures).

This is one of the reasons why men are not settling down, getting married, having children and so on. It is also one of the reasons women feel less inclined to get married, and so many women are chasing what few "princes" may be left. In short, these figures represent a demographic ticking bomb. Something is going to have to change.

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Well said Nicky. My husband's coworkers are in awe at how much we are able to save and invest when they have... expensive cars, wives with brand-name bags and no jobs and very little in terms of investments, no life insurance... Perhaps because you and Cleo are older you speak to older people with things looked after. The reality of those under the age of 40 is very, very different. Ask your kids if they have friends under 30 who have these things sorted out. Chances are, most don't.

And manners work both ways Steve. As long as you continue to call working mothers horrible mothers and be totally unreasonable with regards to women working, I will also think YOUR manners also need a little work.

Um Cleo, I think I know what MY point is, but thank you again for the patronizing comments. You said yourself you would have to go back to work. Working mother... get it? In your case, you wouldn't have to work in some crappy job such as a cashier as I am sure you could find decent teaching jobs or do your translations. The same can't be said for Japanese women who would be in the same position. Most would be stuck in crappy low paying jobs.

So you were a working mom - but from home? Shame you can't support those who decide they want to work but are unable to from home. Not everyone is as lucky as you in that regard.

Good luck with the investments? Oh Cleo, so smug but why? Why the need to be snide and vindictive? Why not give me credit for having things sorted out before I have kids and whatnot. Slow and steady wins the race. I am young and have plenty of time to watch my investments grow. I also haven't put all my eggs in one basket. Rather silly to rely on just one thing I think.

Nicky, pension laws change here recently with regards to divorce. No idea what it would be in your situation before he's worked 60 or 20 years but they changed the law that basically states women are entitles to half their husband's pensions if they divorce once they retire - which is why the divorce rate went up for that age group. I think it is sickening that these women are able to take 50% of a guy's pension. Perhaps if they had their own investments...

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And 90,000 a week is a ton of cash. Didn't her husband have life insurance to look after her??? Why didn't he look after it before he died?

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I wish they had an edit button...

"The fact that many men do not get insurance or even pensions is another reason given that women with toddlers need to work."

Steve did you just write that? So you understand that sometimes women NEED to work and NEED to put their kids in daycare, right? Does that also make those women horrible mothers? You also get that not everyone has life insurance and investments... can you not understand why some women would rather work to ensure they are financially secure? Like yours and Nicky's parents, my parents taught me to look after myself, work with my money wisely and make sure I can always look after myself and any kids I may have. How do I do that? By working. I certainly don't need a man to look after me and I certainly didn't marry my husband for the economic security marriage brings to many Japanese women. It seems you do deep down understand that but yet, argue that working moms are bad moms.

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tmarie; I didn't say that working mums are bad mums, stated undisputed facts that on average those with stay at home mums perfom better and are healthier. When i mention men that don't provide i blame them for not ensuring they can provide. Things happen like illness and loss of job but are not the norm for young couples.

You shoudl consider carefully when you say " I don't need a man". if you suffered a serious accident who is going to love and care for you for teh res of your life. Your husband needs you and you need him, the same waya toddler needs 24/7 care from mum or a close family member. I have never said mums should not work but it is not for teh best when the child is very young. You stiill seem proud of being able to stand on your own feet financially but when married and with children you need to be able to do a lot more than just earn money.

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You said yourself you would have to go back to work. Working mother... get it?

Yes I get it, but I don't think you do. I planned to go back to work anyway when the kids were old enough and we arranged our finances accordingly. As I said before, if the plan was for me to stay at home unearning for ever, we would have needed a different insurance plan. I was a working mother once my kids were out of toddlerhood. I do get 'working mother'. I am one.

Shame you can't support those who decide they want to work

Sorry, but where have I ever said I do not support women who decide they want to work? My choice was to stay at home with my kids when they were little, it was what I and Mr cleo both wanted, and I've mentioned umpteen times that I consider myself to be very lucky to have been able to do that and realise that not every woman can or would want to make the same choice. I have said nothing to undermine or criticise your choices, and I really do not understand where your vitriol is coming from. It's a pity you can't support those who make choices different to yours.

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Things happen like illness and loss of job but are not the norm for young couples. You do get that it is the younger and jr staff that usually get laid off, right? You do get that finding a decent paying job is getting harder and harder right? Nicky has pointed out why many here are not getting married and not having kids. Why are you blaming just the men??

Love and money are two very separate things Steve. I don't need any man to look after me while I am able to work. You are also changing your tune. Before it was always mother this, mother that and now you've included "close family members"? Glad to see you have seen the light.

Proud? Proud of what? Holding my own the way I was taught to do? I certainly know I need to do a lot more if we have kids than just make money. Why on earth would you suggest otherwise?!

So Cleo, you get "working mother" but yet don't support those who want to work when their kids are younger? You have stated numerous times that you think moms should be at home with their little ones until they get to a certain age.

I get that you planned on going back and you did well to be able to do so. Thing is, many women here can't go back and find decent work with decent pay. Why? Because some women here do jobs for pocket money and a chance to get out of the house which means crap pay for those that actually need a decent wage to help support their family. Honestly, it is becoming like a broken record in here with this.

I certainly DO support those who want to stay at home - how many times have I said that in this thread alone?

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you get "working mother" but yet don't support those who want to work when their kids are younger? You have stated numerous times that you think moms should be at home with their little ones until they get to a certain age.

I've stated that I wanted to be at home with my babies. I've not said what other women should or should not do. You're the one who keeps bringing in 'should' and telling us what we think.

I certainly DO support those who want to stay at home - how many times have I said that in this thread alone?

Including that quote, exactly twice; at 11:08 this morning you said, I support the notion that some women want to stay at home (Mmm.. the notion, but not the women?). No details on how you support them, but elsewhere in this thread you have been lavish with scathing comments about laziness and learned helplessness, wives with brand-name bags and no jobs, how much do these sahm cost us, the concept of sahm being a new concept and one I hope that goes away very quickly (how supportive is that??), comments about infanticide and kids being left in cars to die being preventable by mothers putting their children in care while they worked, and even suggesting that famine is due to countries having lots of sahms. I think it's pretty clear you take a very low view of women who have the gall to choose kids over career.

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I'm telling YOU what to think? Not at all. I am just merely offering my opinion on the topic just as you are with yours. You stated what you wanted. I am stating what I want. Thing is though, with the economy and job security as it is, it is pretty much insane to think you can raise a few kids in this country on one income.

I have a few SAHM in my family and a few friends and I have the ultimate respect for them. I don't have a lot of respect for a lot of the SAHMs I see in my neighborhood based on my experience with them and with chatting to some of them. I have scathing comments for women who stay at home but yet don't look after their kids well - I see it on a regular bases. Moms hitting their kids, ignoring their kids, walking off on their kids, kids screaming/crying because they are hurt, scared, can't find their mom... Sorry but am I supposed to respect these women for these actions? There are some amazing moms out there - why is it that I have to say this EVERY TIME with to you?? - but there are many crappy moms out there. As I said, and as you brought up, child abuse, infanticide... are issues here. Heck, why not look at the front page and see where the mom pimped out her daughter?

SAHM DO cost us - the 13 man cap and the issues with FT working women's salaries, the fact that societies who have women working have better education systems and better rates in terms of child deaths and issues related to pregnancy...

If you think learned helplessness isn't an issue in this country I suggest you get off JT and go out and see what society is like now. It sounds like you have done an amazing job with your kids and balancing work. That can't be said for everyone in this country. Parasite kids, enjokosai, girls wanting to be hostesses... These are the issues I see on a day to day basis.

I also hope staying at home when you can't afford it and the kids are in school does go away. Better role models for the kids, a better work force, women able to get out of abusive or unhappy relationships... What is to dislike about that?

Have I suggested famine is related? News to me.

Cleo, you are obviously of a very different generation. Perhaps chatting to your daughter and her friends might let you see the issues that are out there today?

I have a very low opinion of lazy women who think marriage and having kids is the easy way out. Having kids is damn hard work IF you look after them well. Pretty much any women can bear a child, it takes a hell of a lot of effort to raise them well and be a good mom. I doubt you would disagree with that.

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I'm telling YOU what to think?

tmarie, I'm beginning to think you have reading problems. I did not say you are telling me what to think, you are telling me what I think - all this nonsense about 'not supporting' working mothers, about 'working mothers are bad mothers' - all stuff I have never said and do not think.

Thing is though, with the economy and job security as it is, it is pretty much insane to think you can raise a few kids in this country on one income.

I suppose it depends on the size of the one income. I have a few friends who have done it; some had to economise, others seemed to have no problems. Most families I know, the mother went PT when school bills started to come in. A few had to, or chose to, go earlier. So long as that particular family is happy with what it's doing, surely it's no business of your or mine whether it's 'insane' or not.

As for the 13 man cap, the free pensions, etc - I'm with you all the way. Once the kids are in kindergarten, or school at the latest, there is no reason for a healthy, able-bodied woman not to at least pay her own pension premiums and health insurance. If she wants to stay at home, then hubby should pay for two.

I have scathing comments for women who stay at home but yet don't look after their kids well

This is the first time on this thread you've worried about 'these women' not looking after their kids properly. It's all been about laziness and spoiled princesses.

there are many crappy moms out there.

Of course there are. Some work. Some don't. Some are single. Some are married. Some are young. Some are older. The mother pimping out her daughter had more basic problems than whether she was working or not.

It sounds like you have done an amazing job with your kids and balancing work

Thank you. I'm very, very proud of my kids. If I say I believe part of the reason they turned out so well is that I was able to spend plenty of time with them when they were tiny, you'll probably pooh-hooh me. But results aside, we had a fantastic time together, far more satisfying (for me at least) than any mere job could be, and way more precious (to me) than any money I might have otherwise earned and saved during those years. I really do believe I had the best of both worlds - time to watch my kids grow, and a satisfying, lucrative career.

Have I suggested famine is related? News to me

From your Sep21, 08:18 post : 'Poverty is increasing, famine in various countries (most with SAHM), lots of crime...'

you are obviously of a very different generation. Perhaps chatting to your daughter and her friends might let you see the issues that are out there today?

lol I'll translate that first comment as 'You have more experience'. :-)

I've mentioned before that my daughter works FT and my granddaughter goes to day care. I support them absolutely. I know the issues they face. My daughter is a wonderful mother and is certainly not 'helpless' in any sense of the word.

I have a very low opinion of lazy women who think marriage and having kids is the easy way out. Having kids is damn hard work IF you look after them well....it takes a hell of a lot of effort to raise them well and be a good mom.

Amen to that....

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Nigelboy -- Wow, really? What an insight.

It's really not an "insight". Comparing "developing" countries and "developed" countries are like comparing apples and oranges in terms of economic growth, though I'm not surprised you didn't know the difference based on your past posts.

But, as usual, it misses the point. Japan is not simply a "developed" country, it is a declining one. Steeply declining.

Japan is one of many of the "developed" countries that's declining if you kept up with the news. From Obama's failed economic stimulus (high unemployment rate continue) to EU's debt crisis, the developed countries are facing an enormous hurdle.

And much of the reason it is is because it refused to give up social and economic models better suited for the 1960's than the 2010's. By basically pushing half of its talent pool, women, into a traditional role, it has lost ground competitively in a global economy. And, it is likely too late for that to be turned around, as young women today are still taught it is more important to be kawaii, than brilliant or successful.

Hmmm. Japan is ranked 9th in the recent Global Competetiveness ranking which is three places down from previous year which was 6th. Not great but I wouldn't put too much emphasis on "women in the workforce" as a big factor. Certainly the The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Global Competitiveness and Performance didn't.

http://gcr.weforum.org/gcr2011/

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Sorry Cleo, I did read that wrong. But then again, you were also telling me what MY point was... Perhaps I get you mixed up with Steve from time to time because you very often sound very similar and seem to jump at points where I don't agree with SAHM being the best solution.

*I have a few friends who have done it*** Have done it being past tense. Trust me, I look into these things and we would certainly not be able to live the lifestyle we live now on one income with kids - and we're freaken stingy! I do want enough money for family holidays and special treats and based on just my husband's salary, which is pretty damn good compared to the average for his age, we would have to cut out a lot. I don't want to live from paycheck to paycheck like others I know. No thanks. Too stressful.

Cleo, this isn't the first time I have commented on the well being of kids - we have had battles over cooking before if I recall with my huge dislike of SAHM using precooked processed food. I teach. I see kids with great parents and moms and other with ones I would like to take aside and have a chat with about their crappy parenting - if I could even call it that. I look at the kids running in the street in harms way and I seethe with anger at these moms. These are the moms I am referring to. Perhaps our Japans our different but I see neglect and crappy parenting where I live nearly every day - be it a kid crying his poor little head off in the grocery store because he can't find his mom or mothers in a group chatting away while Taro is practically hanging himself on the swing in the playground. These are the spoiled, lazy women I am referring to. It is a DAILY sighting. I dislike these women because they question ME as to why I work. I have gotten sad looks as if my husband doesn't make enough - and once was told that I was "stupid" for working when I don't have to. Heck, just the other week I was told by someone (j-woman) who told me I should quit work and have kids.

The female students I teach see marrying a "rich, handsome man" as their meal ticket out of work. They don't want to work - at 18 they don't have an interest in work. Marry a rich guy, don't work. Not all that often do I hear "I want kids" but more focus on the guy's money and having freedom from their parents. Not exactly stellar mothering material if you ask me.

The famine comment, sorry I don't see the connection at all for which you have implied I tried to make. Studies have shown that societies where women work outside the house have less poverty but I don't think SAHM CAUSE that poverty.

I don't doubt spending time with your kids made them better people and helped them become amazing adults. Thing is, just because a mother stay at home doesn't mean she is spending quality time with her kids. Stick them in front of the TV, give them a game... seems to be faaaaar too common these days. Sort of my point with daycare - better to be with people who are keeping the kids active and doing things WITH them than just dropping them off at the park and sitting down to gossip with the other moms. I don't see a lot of parents "involved" with their kids like I do with the SAHM back "home". I don't see the kiddy music, dance, arts classes. Mommy and me yoga, swimming, running... There seems to be a lot more "home" in terms of such things - and trust me, I am looking into these things, have friends with kids (Japanese) who think I am moon lady for suggesting mommy and me movie day or mommy and me yoga. What I often see if mom with kid at Starbucks ignoring the child to playing on her mobile. No books for jr, nothing to do and a bored kid who starts to misbehave. I don't blame the kid, I blame the mother. Who on earth goes out of the house with a two year old and nothing for them to do??? How is that quality time? How is that good for the kid? Why not stick him in daycare with other kids his age and people who have planned activities and head back to work? My opinion? Because a lot of the women in Japan don't want to work. Having kids gives them a reason not to have to. Spoiled princesses. Certainly not all but far too many. In my opinion.

Like I said, and you agreed, it is a lot of hard work to be a good mother. Sadly, I don't see a lot of hard work here. Moms back home seem to have it much harder (balancing work and whatnot) but I see a lot more quality time with their kids than I see here. Why have them if you don't to want to put the effort into it?

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tmareio; don't know what part of Japan you live in but all local mums here stay at home and go out together with the children a few times a weeks and seem activley involved in giving them stimulating activity. Thing is we live in the sticks, don't have a Starbucks, nearest Mcd's is 10 miles away. I think you would find the type of mothers in my area much different than where you are from. Mind you w don't have any kids hanging round the streets at night, or even kids on bikes at night. Japan is a big place, and i would guess those in the coutryside and those in the city have much different lifestyles. My nearest neighbours moved from Osaka or a "better upbringing" for their daughter. All the designer stuff and coffe shops doesn't apply here at all. I can't say fro city life here as i go quite often but have never resided.

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Oh Steve, if there was a PM function I would tell you all about where I live and how different the women here are compared to those in Kansai. Trust me, the women where I live are shockers. Nationally known as being materialistic and horrific. I wasn't nearly so negative about j women until I lived here and now... Eeeeeek!!

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we have had battles over cooking before if I recall with my huge dislike of SAHM using precooked processed food

I don't recall any battles over cooking....and as a bit of a natural, whole-food freak I do not approve of anyone feeding kids precooked processed junk.

I don't see a lot of parents "involved" with their kids like I do with the SAHM back "home". I don't see the kiddy music, dance, arts classes. Mommy and me yoga, swimming, running...

Then I think we do live in different Japans. When the kids were little we had music, dancing, swimming, kiddie activities at the local jidokan, book readings and apron theatre at the local library....all very well attended, and all the mums apart from me were Japanese sahms. One time when we couldn't get into an over-subscribed kiddy cooking lesson at the local kominkan, a dozen or so of us borrowed the assembly room of the manshon we lived in, and took turns once a month for each mother to give a simple cooking lesson. Groups of us would take our kids to the local parks for picnics and nature walks, to the cinema, the skating rink, all kinds of places.

The mums sitting gawping at their mobiles in Starbucks are not being good mums. I doubt they'd be any better if they were working. Bottom line, some women make good mums, some don't. Staying at home doesn't make a poor mum into a good one. Going out to work doesn't make a good mum into a bad one. What works great for one family could be disastrous for the next. And, my personal opinion, having kids trumps anything money can buy.

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That's it though Cleo, perhaps the bad moms could go back to work and let someone else look after their kids? Would it not be more beneficial for the family??

And I wish that was the case where I live with activities like you described. I haven't seen it - mind you, not like I am hanging out in kiddy land or anything. Just a very, very common sight to see numerous mothers (often together) in unchild friendly areas with very bored and misbehaving kids.

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my huge dislike of SAHM using precooked processed food

I've heard that before, and don't understand it.

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@Steve

zichi; I do not contradict myself as children who stay at home perform better at school, have less behaviour problems and are less likely to be involved in crime when older. They are also more healthy, fitter and less likely to be obese.

tmarie; More rubbish spouted by working mothers. When we became richer and more civilised we realised that mothers staying at home benefited the child and society. In the US and UK where this was most encouraged, crime has rocketted, education standards have fallen, child abuse has risen as have crimes by youths. The social experiment has failed. A child has a right to being cared for by a family member in the first few years of life not being shipped out to paid care where care is often self regulated and poor.

Small children need a parents or close family memebers love in the formative years. Not everyone who goes to day care will do badly or turn to crime but on average it is a handicap and should not be encouraged. We wsnt the best for our children and our future, mothers love is free, daycare is not.

I would really like to know where you get all these "undisputed facts" from. High crime and bad education in the US has nothing to do with women working. In fact I have read studies stating just the opposite of your "facts." This NPR story addresses tactics to raise employment in the US, but the data is quite relevant. There is a link to the paper in the story linked below.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/08/12/139583385/preschool-the-best-job-training-program

The experiment was started in the 60's on poor children ages 3-4 and followed up on the kids when they were in their late twenties. The kids were put into two groups, no preschool and preschool. Preschool kids as adults earned more money, were healthier, were unemployed less, and went to jail less than the no preschool kids.

The soft skills children learn in preschools are very important to their social behavior and research shows that the age range of 3-6 is crucial in learning these skills. I'm not trying to say that preschool is better than staying at home with a loving family, but it is certainly a far cry from the negativity that you are spouting off about it.

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tmarie, I don't think the mums you describe would cut much mustard in the corporate world, do you? They'd be disrupting the working environments of others with their incompetent, lack-lustre ways, costing us all in daycare subsidies and taking up precious daycare places. My daughter chose where she lives on account of there being a good day-care on the doorstep where she was assured there was no waiting list; but when it was time to apply, she was told they were full and she was sent to a place 10 minutes away by car. You'd have to beef up the infrastructure significantly if you want to put all the Starbucks mums' kids in day care.

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steve: "i think it is poor form if a man cannot provide enough and nature gave women the child bearinga nd rearing bodies."

Newsflash, steve, that's not 'equality', that's just plain old sexism. Japan may not be 'Mad Men', but you certainly are in terms of fossil-like thinking.

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smoose, there's a world of difference between preschool (kindergarten?) for 3-6 year-olds, and day care for babies aged 0 and up. I'm all in favour of kindergarten and put both my kids in it, but I consider myself lucky not to have needed to put them in day care.

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Trust me, the women where I live are shockers. Nationally known as being materialistic and horrific. I wasn't nearly so negative about j women until I lived here and now... Eeeeeek!!

Ah, tmarie, I think I have just figured out exactly where you live and yes, it does have something of a reputation, doesnt it?!

We often go to the jidokan at weekends or when I am not working. In fact I am planning to start taking one day off a week from next year and having my youngest with me all day for some quality time and we will be hanging out there. He is growing up way too fast for my liking (I know this because Im starting to drool at newborns again - very dangerous!) so there are things to do with little ones. In fact I am amazed at the things on offer here compared to back home, and most of it free, too. We are always getting flyers through the door for craft workshops, horticulture days, hanging out with elderly mornings, and so on.

My kids drag ME into starbucks! They love those sugar doughnuts so i try to limit them to once a month as a special treat, especially since my son just discovered cheesecake and seems to have inherited my cant-resist gene!

Perhaps because you and Cleo are older you speak to older people with things looked after.

ooohhh, tmarie - you were about to get a biting response to that one! Then I thought - actually - fair enough - I am 38. OMG IM 38???!!!!! when did that happen???!!

Actually - maybe you missed what I said - we are often surprised that our friends (many our age or thereabouts) DONT have adequate insurances and savings (one of them interestingly has a wife who often turns up to our place in Gucci this and Armani that) but I think in general, people dont think too closely about these things until they have a mortgage and/or children, especially if both are career people.

Cleo - kind of a personal question and I understand if you dont want to answer but it is something I have wanted to ask for a long time: I know your daughter is a police officer, but has she had to give up her UK nationality and only retain her J nationality in order to do a public service job? I am asking because I heard that non-J nationals or those who hold nationality elsewhere cannot be pulic servants in Japan, and my kids are currently expressing an interest in the usual police/fire/doctor/nurse/teacher thing, so I was wondering.

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Im so tired of reading this talk, I cant be bothered reading all the comments and can barely make it through the article. It is just so boring!!! Everybody is so individual. Add to that the suggestion that gender is equal, and there is all sort of conflict with defining what that alone means!!! One thing I would say is that the article reads like a homosexual take on gender and even some of the comments seem to deem the standards set fair. There is such a hangup on image and vanity seems to be the underlying standard. While I can appreciate that we all, men and women, like to make the most of ourselves, this whole image just is abunch of homosexual fannys versus speed injecting bonezez that it doesnt even deserve any comment except to highlight that fact. So go and hoot your horn, get into the Im not vain just conscious of health vibe that is being prescribed to you like valium, and one day you may just wake up from it all......then again you may not.

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OMG IM 38???!!!!! when did that happen???!!

lol 'Life is what happens when you're busy doing other things.' I echo your sentiment!

Nicky, my daughter never had UK nationality. She was born one month before the mandarins in the UK deigned to give automatic nationality to the born-overseas children of UK mothers. I suppose if she wanted it she could go and apply and apart from all the paperwork (and never having actually lived in the UK?) she would have no problems getting it, but she's quite happy as she is. Son was born after the law changed so he is a Brit by birth, but again we never bothered with the paperwork. He can walk into the Embassy and demand a passport whenever he wants, but now that he's of age I really don't think he can be bothered. Sorry I'm afraid that doesn't really answer your question.....

The police website says that people who 'do not have Japanese nationality' cannot apply to join the police force.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"smoked big cigars" I just watched all 4 seasons in the last 6 months. I think they smoke 1 or 2 cigars the entire show!!! they do smoke a lot of cigarettes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

*

I'm so tired of reading this talk, I cant be bothered reading all the comments and can barely make it through the article. It is just so boring!!! Everybody is so individual. * I totally agree; everyone is coming at this issue from such an individual angle, that it's almost hard to take the comments seriously. That being said, it is almost impossible to speak objectively on this issue. Steve, if you were a woman, I suspect your views would be extremely different. If the rest of us were men with a good business to support a good wife at home who doesn't need to work, maybe our opinions would be more like Steve's. Hard to say. One thing is certain: Japan is like the 50's and 60's in so many ways; whether you choose to believe that's good or bad is up to you. 2 days ago a girl told me a story about how when she told her boss she was pregnant, her boss basically asked her to resign, although not in so many words. She was a manager, and couldn't continue working 14-hour days. Instead of helping her or trying to come up with a compromise, he would simply rather see her go. This would be a lawsuit where I come from - and a winning one. If women choose to stay at home, so be it. If a mother wants to work, so be it. I think most people in this thread could disprove Steve's 'theory' that children of working mothers "ON AVERAGE" turn out worse than their counterparts. Clearly that is not the case.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nicky, that age comment was for Cleo and Steve, not you! We're in the same age range! And yes, the women in my area certainly do deserve the rep they have. I have had j friends from other cities come and stay and they are shocked at the behavior, attitude, "fashion"... I can honestly say I have never had a flyer about child friendly things - new opening for hair salons, nail salons, cafes... nothing ever for the kids and I live in kid zone! I can get that kids like Starbucks and cafes but the kids I see clearly are bored beyond tears - it is so bad that now my husband even comments on it when before he would tell me not to be mean! Since we're having "kids" chat, he now pays attention to how it seems here and he's really been upset with lack of seat belt, screaming kids running around cafes while the moms ignore them, kids biking in the middle of the street with parents on their mobiles... Honestly, why have them if you aren't going to look after them?

Cleo, could we just heard them up and move them to... Fukushima? A joke but yes, they probably would be just as useless in the work force as well.

We looked into daycare here and was shocked at how few there are. Pretty much everyone stays home with their kids here so the few daycare there are have huge waiting lists. I also don't like how they charge on salary. I fear that they'll tell us we can't apply because my husband makes too much - which is what I have heard of happening to a few other foreign women here.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Im so tired of reading this talk, I cant be bothered reading all the comments and can barely make it through the article. It is just so boring!!!

Then...erm...dont read it?! This isnt school and this thread isnt a prescribed text. Go find something more "interesting" to do. Me - I enjoy reading other peoples takes on things and using their experiences to add to my own knowledge, but each to his own.

@tmarie - ok, you are off the hook with that one, but my horror still stands - when the hell did i become 38?? I swear I was 18 last month! What happened?!

If you live where I think you live, then you may also know that your area has something of a reputation for also being incredibly dificult to find good daycare places - one of the reasons we didnt move to that area. It has one of the longest waiting lists in the country. That might also explain the fed-up mothers ignorting their kids - maybe some of them wanted to work but couldnt get daycare and so are trying to make the best of it by snorting caffeine- not that I am defending them in any way, but it is another possibility. Anyway - my advice to you would be to make sure you ahve the full support of your company BEFORE you are pregnant, and can confirm that they will write the necessary letters and references for you to go back to work if you want to.

I have just come back from work - I have a Sat morning business student and I used this thread as a topic today as she is working in a temp job and thinking about having a baby soon. One thing I have never been able to understand is that back home we take full advantage of maternity laws and time off work for ante-natal appointments and post-natal recovery, but here in Japan as the article says only 1 in 3 women take advantage of maternity laws. In fact I know of several who quite their jobs BEFORE they are even pregnant even though they are planning to be. Why dont they take advantage of the laws here?

My student told me that many Japanese women believe that they must not work at all when they are pregnant, that it is dangerous for the baby. They are told this by their mothers, grandmothers and even popular media such as on TV. She said they are made to feel that if anythign happens (such as a miscarriage) and they are working it will be their fault, and that is why so many quit rather than take the "risk" (non-strenuous work has not been proven to have any link to miscarriage whatsoever). This is why they quit with just a few weeks notice when they are pregnant - they cant get out of there fast enough just in case. They are also under the impression that once pregnant they must not do anything - no going out, no riding bicycles, no belts or anything tight around the middle, wrap their bellies to stop them getting cold, flat shoes only etc etc etc.

No wonder I got so many funny looks when I was pregnant! I was also told to wrap my belly when the air temperature (August) was higher than my natural body temperature! And you should have seen the amazement at my Halloween costume 2 years ago when I was 37 weeks - I went to the party as a pumpkin! I used orange and black body paint to paint the best jack-o-lantern you have ever seen! All the foreigners thought it was great but all the Japanese women were absolutely horrified! But he was born perfectly happy and healthy and not affected by his halloween debut!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sadly Nicky I am a "PT" worker (various unis that add to be about 30 hours a week in total with prep) so... I get nothing! No rights at all which is way if we have kids, I have to plan around the school year because if I take a year off, I will have a heck of a time getting classes back. Hard enough as it is with student numbers going down but more so no one here wants to hire a mom with a baby because... gasp, she might not be on beck and call 24 hours a day... I have to prove that I "need" to work for daycare and must prove my hours of work (I don't have and issue with that but I have an issue with that fact that some women will go to mommy and daddy's company and have them stamp that they work hours they don't so they get rid of Jr). I am stuck in the land of... red miso, brand name bags and a large car company and if that company goes under, so does the city (which I wouldn't miss to say the least!). I have NEVER seen a visibly pregnant women at any of the places I work. They all just quit. I have knew two teachers that took time off and came back, have a friend (uni prof tenure) who is taking maternity leave but other than that, poof! Gone!

As for not being about to work while preggo, funny how that samurai spirit suddenly disappears, eh? I guess they must have forgotten the traditional lives of the samurai and farmers who worked up to the birth, gave birth and got back to work. This whole notion that we are delicate flowers who will break is just pathetic. Again, the women here can't cry abotu not being treated fairly when they behave in such a way!

To be honest, I am terrified I will not have my classes given to me if I get up the duff. Legally too, I don't think I have a leg to stand on!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smoose; I am talking about the average child not deprived children. Of course those from deprived families will do better with sponsored schemes. Strange my links are removed and forbidden because they are off topic when referring to UK studies but US ones are fine.

tmarire; Please stop assuming i am some kind of grandad. I was still at school in the 80's and i left school at 16.

Here are two of my links which are more valid than teh one provided by smoose, (the reason i do not show Japanes e studies, is there are not any); http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8278742.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3267561.stm

These are important studies that obviously have meaning to all countries in the modern world.

Moderator: Sorry, but the UK is not relevant to this discussion.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Cleo - thanks very much for answering my nosey question! it is good to know the facts from someone who has been there before me, and while we are still a little bit young yet to be thinking of these things, it is still another bit of knowledge to be stored away for the future?

@tmarie - sorry to have to say it, but I dont rate your chances. I know of two people who did what you are doing after having a baby. One had inlaws very close by to help. The other was fired after her little boy was taken into hospital for 2 weeks after a massive asthma attack. I myself was fired for being pregnant. Officially I was told my contracts were no longer needed (even though I signed them a month before) but unofficially I was told that it just didnt look professional, a pregnant teacher in the office. Nice, huh? As long as you can act as if you didnt have a child as far as the agencies are concerned, you will be fine. But unless you have a willing granny or aunt nearby to help, that is next to impossible. Once you get to 2 or 3 kids, it is even more difficult, especially when they play "virus tag" and obviously when your child is sick you would rather pull our own arms off than leave them with anyone else! Its a basic instinct thing.

BUT the good news is, with a little determination and ingenuity you can build up a very nice business for yourself, which is what I did back then. Im not really doing that anymore but not because there was anything bad or difficult about it, I just moved on to other things. If you want to work, there are options open for us as foreign women, at least into our forties anyway.

Things may also have changed, I dont know. I was fired 8 years ago now, and things do seem to have changed a little since then. I dont get the horrified or pitiful looks I used to get when I mention daycare. In fact these days more often I get an "ah so ka?" and then my arm grabbed and a whispered hiss "how do i get in???!"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Steve - I found your links really interesting and whilst I dont disagree with a lot of what was said, a few things jumped out at me:

Firstly, a lot of comments on the first story were by women saying they had no choice BUT to work - which supports your theory that the state should intervene to allow women to stay home. I think however that society also needs to change so that there is no "shame" attached to being at home. However, this will only serve to encourage teenagers to get knocked up and get out of home - so the answer doesnt lie there either.

Secondly - it also remarked that for working mothers with higher incomes the children fared better. Now this I find interesting because it is not a massive leap to assume that these higher income working mothers are getting this income because they have a higher education level (such as my working mum friend at home who is a doctor and works 3 days a week). Could that also not be a factor affecting how the children are raised that enables them to "turn out better" as opposed to a working mother on low income but with a lower level of education (and I hate to say it but possibly intelligence - there are a surprising number of young mothers who low education status and low income who seem to think burgers and chips are a perfecty nutritious meal).

Finally - this part I found most interesting of all:

The research says, however, that before parents get too carried away by worrying about working, there are more important issues facing a child's development.

Parents' personalities and emotional stability, parenting practices, and the friends and networks that children experience while growing up will be much bigger factors than whether their mothers work.

This takes me back to my original point that the welfare of the child has less to do with whether the mother works or not, and an awful lot to do with the stability of the home life, the care and attention they receive and the "circles" they move in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am a Japanese female, and run a juku in a town in Amagasaki, in Kansai. Recently, three kids who go to the same nursing home entered my class; one boy and two girls. Both of the girls are smart and well- behaved,but I saw the boy, though briliant enough ,rather talkative and nervous. I think this could have something to do with his mother's absence. Meanwhile, in Ashiya, where I tutor students whose families are wealthy enough , I find some hyper involving helicopter parents who are now driving their kids almost crazy. So I think it is rather their way of dealing with kids.However I think the problem is whether we can choose the way we live or not in present Japan. I had no choice because my husband has been changing jobs, and I didn't want to worry over our expenses. If I had had kids, my life would be even worse than now. Although govenments are encouraging young people to have more babies,it is quite unrealistic for most women to be an efficient worker and a good mom at the same time. In Japan, we have words for women 勝ち組winners who are over thirty and married and have children, vs 負け組 who are over thirty and single or have no children. In order to be 勝ち組,some young women are eager to look for doctors or lawers as marriage partners. So I can safely say, unfortunately,Japan Today is still 'Mad Men' .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nicky, I know ZERO working women here with young kids. The ones I do know who have kids took a few years off and then came back to work after the kids were in ele - and even then, I only know of two foreign women and a few older Japanese women. As I already posted, one of those foreign women had to give up a few classes this term after a foreign male teacher complained about her missing a day or two due to her kids being sick - and she did the make up classes. I fully expect to be kicked out and told I have no classes for the next year. IF we have kids, I have decided not to speak to anyone at the school about it. If I don't ask anything, I am hoping that no one in the offices will notice. Though with the way things are, I fully expect the gossip to go and for me to be pulled aside and told off. Sad isn't it?

My area is very, very traditional and as I mentioned, few daycares. His parents are a three hour drive from us so no help from anyone. I also wouldn't trust anyone here with looking after my kid all day based on the parenting I see here so... My husband seems to think everything will work out just peachy but of course, things will work out for HIM, not me. His company does have a daycare system but it is really, really hard to get into and places go to people with both spouses working for the company (expensive as heck too) but I have a male friend who has his kids there and they're pretty happy. Though his wife works at the company and he thinks that is why they were able to get a place. Doesn't look good at all from where I sit which is why we still don't have rug-rats yet. Seems so much easier in Tokyo and Osaka! Pitiful looks all around here just for the fact that I work, let alone have kids in daycare!! Shame people can't relax about it. I certainly dislike the lazy housewives but I certainly don't let them know it like they let me know how sad it is I 'have" to work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ms Washida; Thanks for lookinga t the links, most pooh pooh them off hand for soem reason or another., but ever my links are removed whilst others links are allowed to stay. Getting rather fed up with this moderation that seems to have an agenda on certain topics. No point making an effort to try to validate my opinion when that is removed and other similar ones remain.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

tmarie, if you actually quit your job to have a baby you have a hell of a time getting it into day care because you're not working. And it's virtually impossible to get a new job because you don't have day care; it's a vicious circle. This is where people who are not seishain get the short end of the stick - unless you have a piece of paper guaranteeing you have a job to go back to after maternity leave, you really have no choice but to become a sahm - which really brings us back to the topic of the article, which is not whether sahm or gotwm is better/superior but equal opportunity and gender equality. We need more and better day care places, to give women more flexibility.

As things are all you can do is make the best choice for you, but as one who's been through it all and come out the other end, I can't see any job being as important, anywhere near as important, as your very own baby. If your husband is happy for you to be at home for a few years, it might be worth at least thinking about. You don't have to sit in Starbucks with a mobile welded to your hand! :-)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cleo, I wouldn't quit. I fear being forced out and if I am not, I worry about finding daycare! it is a vicious cycle which is why I am already looking into daycare and whatnot as I don't want the excuse for my schools to be "We worry if you can find daycare so... out you go". I don't get maternity leave like you said, if I am out of a job, I can't get daycare and if I can't get daycare, I can't get back into work which is why timing in my case is so important. Have the kid when classes are not in, get back to work why they start up again with kiddo in daycare.

Cleo, my mental health is important. Me being stuck home all day NOW is bad enough. Me being stuck home with no friends, no support AND a screaming baby? Not good for me, the baby nor my husband. Already well aware of this based on babies from family and friends! Perhaps I might just magically change over night with regards to this if we have kids but the idea of being home 24/7 or even in Starbucks with a newborn is not my cup of tea. My friends who thought like this before kids haven't changed and those who are home on mat leave are dying to get back to work. I figure I will be the same! Hubby gets to deal with the toddler/kiddy years. I take over when they are 12! ;) If only!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And yes, more daycare is needed. I did entertain the thought of opening one up with very flexible hours and whatnot but then I remembered... I am not really a kid person so... Shame though because in the long run, much needed, a very good way to make a living as people would pay to have a clean and safe place to leave their kids... I have tried to convince baby loving friends to do it but they just aren't interested in it. I have a few friends back home who do it and they make a killing and love their job!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"the government has struggled with the issue of how to encourage women to have more kids."

This is not a difficult problem. Two things are needed:

a) investment into flexible daycare with LICENSED personnel. Please feel free to divert funds away from old people for this purpose. And close the idiotic loophole that says that you can only get daycare if you are actually working....

b) make all prenatal medical procedures, all check-ups and tests as well as the delivery itself, entirely insurance covered. How many people will opt to have kids when just the prenatal procedures cost a small fortune?

Any society that ignores the importance of having babies and nurturing them, instead diverting all resources to its old, will fail. As for work/life balance, if you have a baby in Japan you're actually doing society a favor and should be gladly commended for it by your company.

Why is this so difficult for the Japanese to understand? It is not something that requires deep thinking or weighing of options. But it takes action, and that is something that people here abhor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tranel, I would like you post a million times if I could!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Steve - thank you for posting them. I do think a lot of the views you have are entirely valid and as I said before, I think we care about the same issues, we just come at them from different angles, thats all./

@tmarie - I think you are actually being very sensible. You will hear from people that "when you hold that baby in your arms everything changes" and it is true to an extent - I became the kiddie person I never thought I was and the love and protectiveness you feel will take your breath away. But you know yourself better than anyone, and if you know that you are not the type to stay at home, dont even think about trying to shoehorn yourself into a life that doesnt suit you. I did try for a while - two miserable kids, a miserable Mum and a 2 year prescription for Prozac was the result!

Plan everything in advance as far as you can and if someone wont give you a job - give yourself one!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nessie, "blows away"? Are you seeing this stuff firsthand or just going on what your GF states? You might be surprised that people who brag abotu their working skills tend to be well, not as skillful as they think.

She tells me she clears 50 cases a month and her co-worker clears 20 cases a month. Also, she handles fire and death cases, which are more time-intensive than garden variety injury cases.

Of course, she could be lying. Perhaps she is actually a man. We will never know for sure, but I think I'll take her word for it....or should I say his?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nessie, the bosses may well be incorrect and they may be cutting off their own noses. But if the company rules say that career-track employees get paid more than non-career-track, and she turned down the offer of being career-tracked...isn't that her choice?

Did I say it was not her choice?

My point is that the performance criteria for pay are irrational.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You will hear from people that "when you hold that baby in your arms everything changes" and it is true to an extent - I became the kiddie person I never thought I was and the love and protectiveness you feel will take your breath away

Absolutely. You can't really understand it until you've been there. I also agree with everything else you say in that paragraph.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's always interesting reading the half-baked comments on articles like this. It seems that many Americans -- and probably Europeans too -- have a very basic need to feel superior to other countries. Read through the article and the comments -- none of this has anything to do with womens rights. No specifics are actually discussed.

Every single thing here boils down to: "how far behind America is Japan?"

It begs the question why so many Americans are insecure about these things. Does coming onto a forum and bad-mouthing another culture in a language few of them speak make you feel better about yourselves?

Here's a newsflash for you -- Japan, and Asia in general, have different values. You can't compare one for one. If you want to play that game, I could just as easily say "Japanese women control the checkbooks and household -- in America, women are still largely subject to men in the house. It's the man's castle. But Japan has figured it out and has better equality. If the man is working, it makes more sense to give the responsibilities of managing the household and all it's bills to the woman. And Japanese, unlike Americans, trust women to handle the household checkbooks. Thus Japan is much more liberal and forward-thinking than America."

... yea, there's a lot of stereotypes and misinfo in there. But then, it's the exact same thing you're all doing. What's the difference?

PS My wife is a career woman in Japan. Solid job, solid opportunities for advancement, and her company highly values her skills, along with all the other women in her work place. Maybe her field is just forward-thinking. Or maybe it's just that trying to boil down all of your half-baked preconceptions and comparing them to America doesn't yield an objective viewpoint. Japan has a different value set. Appreciate diversity for what it is, try to identify situations that actually are unfair, and address those. Do that, and maybe you won't all look like fools desperate to feel better about yourselves.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Every single thing here boils down to: "how far behind America is Japan?"

Really? And how many of the posters do you imagine are Americans? I can tell you that most of those who have posted longest, most frequently and most passionately on this topic are not American.

As far as I can tell, Japan is not 'behind' America at all when it comes to child-raising. The two countries are on completely separate paths.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kuharakira; I am also not American and i have said that i don't want japan to become liek America. Why do so many Japanese/japanese fans think Japan is being bashed when it is not, aslo why think all foreigners are American?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Well said Cleo and Steve!

Equality on the home eh? Kuji, you might want to ask some of the j women you speak to highly of if they agree. I think their answers might surprise you!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

. Recently "men work outside, and women take care of the house" style has been in jeopardy in many families .

I assume MR. Kujirakira is a lucky man not to see himself in the situation not a few Japanese middle aged men are facing right now. In addition, his wife works for the company (?) where equality of gender perfectly exits.The fact is, however,the job -hunting is becoming extremely tough even for younger generation in Japan. Considering present Japanese economy, I might say the situation seems to have no bright future.

Actually, I think quite opposite way of Mr. Kujirakira; we Japanese need to listen to expats in Japan, and rethink our traditional way of thinking . I don't think it is because their opinions are superior to us but because many Japanese can no longer live like what they used to .

In saying" traditional way" , I don't mean religious or phylosophical point of views , rather, I could sayI mean the tendency most Japanese are inclined to do or think as "do or think the same way as what others do or think." We tend to accept the present situation as it is, and suffer under the circumstance in which we are given.

However with the help of SNS, we have more chances to listen to what non-Japanese people think about our country. Many expats seem not to have chances to discuss the matters with their surrounding Japanese people, so it's a good chance for both of us and them to get to know one another's good points or bad points.

I hope my writing makes sense ,and doesn't sound too idealistic. I am willing to read aoubt what non-Japanese people think of our way of life.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why do so many Japanese/japanese fans think Japan is being bashed when it is not, aslo why think all foreigners are American?

Because they are desperately trying to convince themselves that their lives here are "wonderful" and they have made the right decision to be here? Or maybe their own experience doesnt reflect the general reality but they cant/dont want to see beyond it? Facing reality is not a part of that. Because they have a chip on their shoulders about America? Who knows and who cares really. Someone who just comes here and attacks other posters without actually even offering a viewpoint of their own beyond "my wife has a good job" is hardly worth bothering with quite honestly and even more "half-baked" than anyone else!

Of course the ideas of people on here are half-baked - who would expect anything less? Unless one of us has a PhD in sociology with a major in Japanese society, our opinions are never going to be worthy of publication in science weekly. They are however worthy of peer review - our peers being each other. People who have lived and experienced Japan for many years.

I learn a lot about how life is for different people living here and I get a lot from that. I also particularly welcome veiwpoints from Japanese on here, and especially ones like Yasuko who value our viewpoints as much as we value theirs.

So to answer Yasuko`s question on what we think of the way of life here: personally I love it! Even though we are near to central Tokyo, I think this is a wonderful place to raise children. I find Japanese almost without exception to be polite and pleasant, I generally feel safe here, and I just wish that some Japanese werent so scared of us! I would like to lose the tarento, lolicon, sexualisation of children elements of the culture, but in general, at least my kids can go to a park here and not risk getting beaten up by hoodies or stuck with needles.

I think the single biggest issue for this society is lack of freedom of choice. There is only one socially acceptable educational path into work, and once there, the companies seem to wield enormous power over their employees - see the olympus whistleblower case for example. If you choose to follow the traditional mode of giving up work when married/pregnant, you are fine, but people who want to step outside that route can find things very difficult - generally speaking.

I dont think there is a good enough work/life balance and I think families, especially children suffer as a result. A lot of children are forced to grow up without strong male role models and this is clearly having an effect on society. I also think mothers in law and grandparents get to wield far too much power over young families which is fine if their views are not updated and are in touch with todays Japan ;)

I think it is very hard for women with children to be working and they are often penalised in the workplace if they do. This needs to change.

These are just a few ideas but basically in a nutshell I see Japan as an incredibly talented, hardworking, well educated society that is being squandered away by a few people for whom clinging to power and maintaining the status quo has made them personally very wealthy and in order to hold on to that they are screwing over the country as a result.

I dont think Japan in that respect is any better or worse than anywhere else. I dont think we have fewer problems back home in the UK for example, just different ones.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

at least my kids can go to a park here and not risk getting beaten up by hoodies or stuck with needles.

Nicky, you really shouldn't believe everything the Daily Mail tells you - it's hardly that bad back in the UK, and it's not like we don't hear of kids being beat up, killed, bullied to suicide, etc over here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Borat: I dont read the Daily Mail. I go home for 2 months every year and see it for myself.

But you are right - Japan is not utopia and neither is the UK all bad. I just find it easier raising children in Japan. But it is not easy being a working mother here, mainly becaue the attitude towards working mothers is not supportive in general. They can throw all the laws and daycares at it that they want but when you have old-school companies refusing to promote women, refusing to pay them reasonably for what they do, and being unsympathetic to family demands you will never be able to get women back into work. In addition, pressure from in laws/grandmothers and from other mothers not to work is strong too. It is almost as if they are thinking "we didnt/dont have these opportunities, so why should you?"

I fail to see Japan as an equal society when, although the husband may hand over his paycheck to the wife, if he can then beat the crap out of her or cheat on her all he wants but she has nowhere else to go. And if she does leave her sole financial support stops. So she is basically trapped. Some "equality".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well said Nicky!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well so what? But what's wrong with bein' sexy?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I fail to see Japan as an equal society when, although the husband may hand over his paycheck to the wife, if he can then beat the crap out of her or cheat on her all he wants but she has nowhere else to go. And if she does leave her sole financial support stops. So she is basically trapped. Some "equality".

All the divorced mothers I know somehow escaped from their deadbeat husbands. They are working and/or re-married, and generally happy. None had the crap beaten out of them. A couple were cheated on but got the house and kids as compensation. How do you explain this?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

How do you explain what? Why he didn't beat them or how they managed to find decent jobs and raise their kids alone??

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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