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Who's afraid of working women?

41 Comments

“I used to be a helicopter pilot, I loved it. But since having a child, I quit. I don't think I will work again for a long time," says a woman at a local center where residents gather to socialize and host events. A group of women sits before me. We have been discussing their interests and aspirations for an hour. I look around at them. They are sociable and engaging individuals. But they all have one thing in common. Each of them went to university, and quit their jobs after having a child. Although it is all well and good to choose family over career, the predictability of these women’s career paths seems unsettling to me. Here, they treat it as part of a standard expectation. A working lifestyle in Japan is not compatible with motherhood, or so these women have been led to believe.

Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a bold admission concerning women and the economic growth of his country. Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, he said: “Creating an environment in which women find it comfortable to work... is no longer a matter of choice for Japan. It is instead a matter of the greatest urgency.”

The recognition of working women as a strong economic force may not seem like a novel idea to most developed nations. For Japan, it brings to light an issue of women’s rights long swept under the carpet.

Abe has become known for his aggressive three-pronged policy, coined as "Abenomics," since taking office last December. Improving female workforce participation is a part of Abe's long-term reform strategy. Though it has been a significant problem in Japan for many years, it is only starting to gain attention now.

In 1999, Kathy Matsui, chief Japan strategist at Goldman Sachs, first advocated that Japan could increase its gross domestic product by as much as 15% simply by tapping further its most underutilized resource — Japanese women. Fourteen years have elapsed since then, and the idea has finally entered Japan's political lexicon.

Why has it taken so long for the government to explicitly and actively acknowledge the problem of working women in Japan? It certainly is not due to lack of evidence. The year 1999 saw the introduction of The Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society Act, which stipulated that the state would be responsible "for the comprehensive formulation and implementation of policies related to promotion of a Gender-equal Society." However, by government estimates in 2011 - over a decade later - only 6.2% of managerial roles in private firms were allocated to females. The IMF states that female employment rates are currently 25% lower than males, giving Japan one of the lowest rates of female employment in all developed countries. Half of all university graduates in Japan are women. Despite this, a recent survey released by Kyodo News Agency suggests that Japanese women themselves have internalised the image of the stay-at-home mother, with one in three women wishing to become housewives after marriage.

Many believe that Abe's comments on the virtues of "Womenomics" may contribute toward changing the current status quo, leading to substantial economic change and clearer signs of gender equality. While the IMF has stated that employing more women could increase Japan's GDP by up to 5%, there are plenty of reasons to feel skeptical about the government's recent feminist slant. A good place to begin looking is the inner workings of the Diet itself. Are they practising what they preach?

Since the beginning of Abe's term, the percentage of female members of the lower house has fallen to 8%. Only two of his 18 cabinet members are women. This leaves Japan 124th out of 188 countries surveyed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union -- below developing countries such as Mali -- and far behind China and South Korea, ranking 54th and 88th respectively. Under-representation is not only confined to governance on a national level, with as few as 0.8% of women taking up mayoral positions in 2011. Women remain noticeably absent from the political sphere, having little direct impact on public policy and decision-making processes.

Why is the government bringing to light an issue that is very much its own failing? Despite several legislative acts over the years to promote equality, it is clear that women do not have the same working rights as their male counterparts. Furthermore, women do not have significant political representation on any level of governance. Looking at correlations between equality laws and reality up until now, it seems unlikely that any major changes to the working environment will manifest themselves in the near future. Abe's strategy so far -- urging businesses to be more accommodating toward their female staff -- has proved to be far from inspiring. Surely the Japanese government can see that the real problem does not lie in a lack of laws, but rather in a lack of desire to implement real change? One starts to get the feeling that "Womenomics" is less about speaking up for gender equality, and more about keeping up an appearance.

The current issues that the government faces are not going to be remedied by lawmaking. The solution is deeper and more complex than this. It begins by questioning Japan's patriarchal status quo, and examining ways in which attitudes should be altered to make the political, social and economic system geared toward a recognition of women as equal members of society.

Even if the government implements policies in the future to encourage women's rights from a state level, it remains doubtful that this will ever be practised in good spirit by local councils and businesses. For women, the working environment remains rife with obstacles that hamper mobility and fair treatment, fed by an attitude that women do not deserve equality. One of these issues, brought to light by Hifumi Okunuki of The Japan Times, is the concept of "maternal harassment." In 1985, The Equal Employment Opportunity Law was passed to prevent any discrimination against women based on pregnancy or maternity leave. However, with a current 62% of employed women leaving their jobs after childbirth -- and continually rising figures- it is difficult to dismiss claims that employers are openly unwelcoming to new and expectant mothers.

So far, feminism cannot claim a long-lasting and successful history in Japan. Women do not have a common platform from which they can voice opinions, and are often so deeply mired in societal attitudes that they do not question them. Simply urging industries to look beyond entrenched prejudices will not be enough to break down the barriers towards gender equality. If the Japanese government wishes to build its economy on the foundations of equal working rights, it will need to practise and encourage a great deal more of self-evaluation.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

41 Comments
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Certainly a compelling issue, but unfortunately Ms. Patel brings nothing new to the conversation; no interesting observations, insights or suggestions. The problem will never get better when articulate women such as the author do nothing but rehash the same old statistics and complaints we've been reading year after year.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

What I want to know is, where are all these droves of Japanese women who are desperate to get back into the workplace? Almost all of the ones I've met and spoken with (and that's hundreds of women) have either stopped working completely, or dramatically cut their working hours after marriage, with a huge sigh of relief. I've only ever met a handful of women who continued to work full-time after becoming mothers, and that was because their husbands were low income earners and they desperately needed the money, not because they actually wanted to work.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

It's the usual old tosh about getting more women into work to make the country better. The sad thing is the author has been hoodwinked by the elite and mass media on this subject.

GDP would rise by 15% if more women worked which really means that more people in the workplace will drive down wages and more corporations can get cheaper labour, it also means that men and women both have to work and their kids Johnny and Jane have to go to daycare. These things all increase GDP without benefiting the average person, in fact it means more work for less pay.

Maybe Japanese women care not for western feminism and i don't blame them, feeling compelled to abandon their toddlers to dubious paid care centres to get back to the rat race like is becoming the norm in the west.

Let's face it, Western women have fallen hook line and sinker into this feminism claptrap and the societies and the family unit is collapsing.It is not meant to help women but big business and it has and continues to do so.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

I keep seeing writers like Heenali writing articles like this but they all seem to be their own personal views and opinions. I have been in Japan for 26 years and still the majority of women that I know here, once they are married and/or have a child speak about working again but are actually happy to stay at home and be a mother or wife. I have seen this not only in our office numerous times but in the work place outside of our office as well with women from many other professional companies.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

A working lifestyle in Japan is not compatible with motherhood, or so these women have been led to believe.

I find it ironic that the author of this article is so blind to their own cultural biases that they cannot see how ridiculous their statements are.

OF COURSE working life is not compatible with motherhood. You try walking into your office with your kid on your back and see what reaction you get. Only a completely brainwashed idiot would swallow the nonsense that "You can be a mom and a worker!"... NO, you cannot.

What you CAN do is drop your kid off at some institution for someone else to raise while you go and work, and then pick them up in the evening, take them home and play with them for a couple of hours before they go to sleep, and DELUDE yourself that those couple of hours in the evening are enough to qualify as "being a mother".

... but who's benefiting from this? Certainly not the children. Certainly not the women. Oh, wait, BUSINESS is benefitting again. Previously they had to pay salaries that worked on the assumption that the salary was supporting an entire family. Now they can pay HALF that on the assumption that both mother and father work... AND all the while they can say stuff like, "We support women!!"...

It is such utter nonsense, and I cannot believe that anyone with half a brain falls for it... yet a huge proportion of the world's population seem to accept that it is normal for companies to pay half salaries and for women to hand their children to someone else to raise.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Frungy, I think you're way off on this one, based on my own personal experience. Because my wife is smart, talented and ambitious, we put both our kids in Minato-ku's excellent day care starting at six months. From 8 to 6 pm, M-F, for something like 8000 yen a month per child, nutritious lunch and snacks included, run by licensed teachers. Both kids are in their 20s now, happy, loving and successful in their own right, and my wife and I have a comfortable life and a nice bundle saved thanks in part to her short six-month pregnancy breaks. It's been a win-win-win from the get go.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

If the government wants more female workers in the workforce, they need to make it more attractive for them. So many people that I've talked to tell me that it's not interesting, enjoyable or challenging to work. The only challenge is to deal with all the office politics, but they are often not given responsibilities that commensurate with their abilities. Lastly, they are underpaid. I had a friend who was better, more qualified than a male co-worker (hired at the same time) yet he was paid 20% more even though she had to help him with HIS work.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

ben4short -

From 8 to 6 pm, M-F, for something like 8000 yen a month per child, nutritious lunch and snacks included, run by licensed teachers.

So, highly subsidised? From taxes? When I board my dog ¥8000 covers a little over three days, with me providing the food.

my wife and I have a comfortable life and a nice bundle saved thanks in part to her short six-month pregnancy breaks.

And mostly thanks to other folk subsidising your lifestyle choice. Win-win for you maybe, not-so-win for the taxpayer.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

@falseflagsteve Actually, the GDP would rise if more women not only stay in the workforce but also move into management positions. That would boost their wages, creating more spending power for essentially half the population that now has little. More women in the workforce could also conceivably reduce the amount of time spent by men at work, freeing them up for more time with their families. It's a win-win for everyone but would require complete cultural change in this country.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Cut the wasteful spending of tax dollars, snuff out corruption, increase the many slave wages that exist. Stop worrying about women. If they want to work they can if not they don`t. Politicians just want to keep digging a bigger hole.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nice to hear that, ben, but the trick is finding a job allowing you to drop off your kid at 8 and still make it to work on time and to leave early enough to pick him/her up by 6 pm, and also not require you to work weekends. Certainly these jobs exist, but they are definitely not management or upper-level government positions.

Workplace flexibility does not exist, and neither does the mental flexibility which would be a prerequisite, and neither will likely change in our lifetimes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Working men.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cleo, please stop feeling sorry for yourself, the poor taxpayer. For you're forgetting one important fact: I'm a taxpayer too and my Minato-ku taxes help subsidize the center.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

The irony me to me is that whenever the politicians make a committee to study how to make it easier for women to work the members are all 50 year old men who think they know what women want. They do the same thing regarding integration of foreigners at my company. They guess or imagine how I am feeling but do not ask me or allow me to participate in high level conversations of how to improve integration.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

ben4shortOct. 29, 2013 - 10:53AM JST Frungy, I think you're way off on this one, based on my own personal experience. Because my wife is smart, talented and ambitious, we put both our kids in Minato-ku's excellent day care starting at six months.

I'm not saying it is impossible to have your kids raised by someone else, what I am decrying is the idea that someone can be considered a "mother" when they spend just a couple of hours in the evening with their kids.

I'm not being sexist. Guys who work late 6 days a week and then try to make up for it on Sunday by taking the kids out to McDonals for an hour... yeah, those aren't Fathers either.

My dad always made a point of being home by 5pm and spending two hours with us in the evening, helping us with out homework, etc. My mother was a full-time Mom until I started school, but she made sure she was finished work in time to pick me up after school and was home with us.

The new modern "mother" and "father" spend less and less time with their kids, more and more time at work, and for lower and lower salaries. Who is benefitting here? Not society - less parental care = less stable citizens. It is short-sighted companies looking to make a short-term profit with little or no thought of the impact on society.

Anyone who actively supports new mothers working is falling for a HUGE lie.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Firstly, no one is afraid of working women to answer the question. Secondly, these numbers are woeful yet rhetoric. Little more family support, flexible working hours can solve many of the above problem for which passing a law is not required. But, having less political representation is a cause of concern. LDP has ruled Japan for ages now, and can afford to bring in more women political leader internally, i think people will welcome them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

one important fact: I'm a taxpayer too and my Minato-ku taxes help subsidize the center.

Better to have lower taxes all round so that people can pay for their own child-care, instead of taking hand-outs and then boasting smugly of their 'nice bundle saved' at the expense of others. Anyone can save a nice bundle if they don't have to pay for stuff.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Cleo

Tell me honestly if you would have done anything differently had you been in my position. And you accuse me of taking a hand-out. What a skewered view of the world you have. I don't own a car yet part of my tax money goes toward maintaining the highways that I don't use. Can I then call drivers who use these roads guilty of "taking hand-outs?" Or any of the many social services that the town/city/nation offers, subsidized in part by my taxes, that I don't participate in? It works both ways; my children's day care was subsidized by many people who don't use it, and I help subsidize other services that I don't use. That's simply the universal nature of taxation, and I strongly resent your accusatory tone.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Tell me honestly if you would have done anything differently had you been in my position.

Your position being, getting public services on the cheap? Heck no, the services are there for the benefit of all. You don't drive, but doubtless you occasionally use taxis, if you fall ill you'll need an ambulance that will need roads to travel on to reach you, if your house catches fire the fire-engines will need roads to get to you, all the food etc., you buy from the supermarket is delivered there by road, when the refuse collectors come to take your rubbish away they come by road. So to say you 'don't use' the roads is simplistic, short-sighted hogwash, pardon my French.

As a society, we need as a body to care for our kids; they're our future, whether they share our own DNA or someone else's. If parents are eager to leave their kids in the care of strangers then as a society we need to make sure that those kids are properly cared for while the parents are doing what they think are more important things. I have no problem with that. Having parents stuck at home looking after kids they don't want to look after is a recipe for disaster, for both parent and more importantly for the kid. My gripe is with your smug attitude, crowing that you left the kids from 6 months in dirt-cheap child-care, and now as a result have lots o'cash stashed away. What I would have done differently is not crow about it.

Re-reading your first post, I remember the comment about putting the kids in daycare because of your wife being 'smart and talented' got up my nose, too; do you mean to say that smart, talented women are wasted looking after their own babies? Raising a child is a second-best occupation? Personally, I want the person who raises my kids to be the smartest, most talented person I can find.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

Cleo, perhaps we can just take Ben's comments at face value without looking for hidden insults. Without wanting to speak at length for a stranger who can certainly speak for himself, I took his comment to mean that his wife has a relatively high powered job with good earning potential, he respected his wife's desire to keep on doing the job she is good at, and the fact that they earned two wages for all but a brief period of maternity leave allowed them to save up and enjoy a comfortable life.

The cheap daycare is just an incidental detail, the key issue being the two paychecks.

Also consider the context of the original comment which you took offense at - a reply to Frungy's post saying working mothers are a bad idea. I think Ben was just trying to offer a different perspective, rather than posting principally for the purpose of boasting about his financial situation.

For what its worth though, I think Frungy has a point about corporations being the only party to benefit from rushing new mums back to work. Both parents working when kids are pre-school and both parents working when kids are in school are two very different issues.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Thank you, jpn_guy, for your correct, level-headed comments.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Mike Untrue i'm afraid as has been seen in other countries. Pushing more people into the workforce reduces salaries and work conditions. Companies take advantage of this and make more jobs part time which benefit only them. Whther men or women are in management positions is irrelevent.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Women do not have a common platform from which they can voice opinions, and are often so deeply mired in societal attitudes that they do not question them. Simply urging industries to look beyond entrenched prejudices will not be enough to break down the barriers towards gender equality.

Yes, they DO have a platform to voice their opinions - it's called the cafe. The only thing holding women back is... women! There is one one of this very thread who likes to make snide comments about working women rather than supporting a woman's choice to either stay home OR work. It is women like this who pressure other women to give up their careers because heaven forbid Mrs. Tanaka bullies or starts gossiping about what a bad mother the working mother is.

Now they can pay HALF that on the assumption that both mother and father work... AND all the while they can say stuff like, "We support women!!"... I think you're forgetting that Japan pays women crap BECAUSE the women here refuse to demand fair pay. Housewives want to stay under the magic 1.3 million a year because that way they get covered under their husband's pension and health care. What you are failing to understand is that THEY are the ones that are hurting FT working women with a career - be it because they WANT to work or perhaps because they are a single mother or a single woman and NEED to work. Scrap that stupid cap and watch the women demand fair wages - and watch the SAHW get off their butt and get a job. As it is now, it is nearly impossible to bring up a family on just one wage and I fear Japan will pay for this in a few years when the debt collectors come knocking.

So, highly subsidised? From taxes? When I board my dog ¥8000 covers a little over three days, with me providing the food. Funny, I think this very poster got upset once when I made a comment about children and dogs being similar in some respects... Don't think the dog is a future tax payer.

And mostly thanks to other folk subsidising your lifestyle choice. Win-win for you maybe, not-so-win for the taxpayer.

Kind of like how I support your choice to visit a doctor, have a pension, had kids who attended school? Why should non-parents have to pay for schools? Why should healthy, fit people have to pay for fat, sick people? Why? Because it is what is good for society, just like having affordable daycare is good for society. Or perhaps we should charge a single working mom an arm and a leg because she didn't stay married and in an abusive relationship or perhaps hubby died young?

**what I am decrying is the idea that someone can be considered a "mother" when they spend just a couple of hours in the evening with their kids.

I'm not being sexist. Guys who work late 6 days a week and then try to make up for it on Sunday by taking the kids out to McDonals for an hour... yeah, those aren't Fathers either.**

So what are saying is that you think very few people in the world deserve the title of mother or father because they don't follow your ideals? Do you think the stay at home mothers who send their kids to yochien, juku, swimming, eikaiwa... really spend that much more time with their kids than a working mom? I don't. Not in this country. I guess by your standards there really aren't any parents in Japan.

The insults towards working mothers on here by other women are sicken - and are thankfully dying with the old biddies who think this way. The women here are going to have to face the facts sooner or later that they can't have two kids going to uni, a car, a house and cafe lunched without them having to help out financially. When that reality hits, the better the daycares and their conditions, the less bullying and the less crappy busy work that keeps both men AND women "busy".

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Who's afraid of working women?

Salaryman.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As we can see be posters here, most full time working women do not seem happy with their lot.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Salaryman.

I disagree. I think it is stay at home women. I have worked with many, many women while here and the only ones who have ever been nasty about me working is... the married women who stay home. Are the men are perfect? Of course not but if you want to talk about office bullying, I think you'll need to address the issue with contract females and OLs who are fully expecting to quit their jobs when the ring goes on or they get up the duff. They are a nightmare for career women - and men.

http://www.amazon.co.jp/Office-Ladies-Salaried-Men-Companies/dp/0520210441 for a nice frightening Halloween read.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Nothing will change until working conditions for Japanese men improve first. Unpaid overtime is out of control in this country. No employee needs to stay in the office ten or eleven hours per day, multiple days per week, month after month and year after year. It is soul-destroying stuff. Japanese women are smart to opt out of that insanity.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Abe wasn't talking about equality, he was talking about women doing crappy minimum wage jobs around their motherly duties. This is his idea to prevent increased immigration and to allow corporations to "employ" more hourly-contracted staff so as to increase their profits.

Japan's biggest problem is low productivity, which is caused by staggering inefficiency in the work place. The women are just as inefficient as the men if they are employed full time. It's all Excel sheets, meetings and projects. Japan would boost GNP greatly if it banned people from spending more than 45 hours a week at work, forced them to take their paid holiday and tried developing a meritocracy, but perception rules here, and the Japanese need to be seen as hard working.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There are different ways to do income producing work, many use creativity and others can be done with others you enjoy spending time with, but the real heart of the problem is the dominance of mega-corporatism over our working lives. Think about it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think Frungy has a point about corporations being the only party to benefit from rushing new mums back to work. Both parents working when kids are pre-school and both parents working when kids are in school are two very different issues.

Yes indeed.

The women here are going to have to face the facts sooner or later that they can't have two kids going to uni, a car, a house and cafe lunched without them having to help out financially.

Or they can have the best of both worlds for them and their families; let the babies have their undivided attention for the first two or three years, and then help out financially.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Frungy> "What you CAN do is drop your kid off at some institution for someone else to raise while you go and work, and then pick them up in the evening, take them home and play with them for a couple of hours before they go to sleep, and DELUDE yourself that those couple of hours in the evening are enough to qualify as "being a mother".

... but who's benefiting from this? Certainly not the children. Certainly not the women."

Ummm.... Actually Japan is benefiting from the fact that wives are having kids. The fact that mothers are encouraged to leave work after having a kid stops many women from being mothers. Japan is woefully backward for child-care facilities for working mothers (and fathers). Japan will pay the price when the population halves and everybody is old.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

2020hindsightsOct. 30, 2013 - 12:05AM JST Ummm.... Actually Japan is benefiting from the fact that wives are having kids. The fact that mothers are encouraged to leave work after having a kid stops many women from being mothers.

But most mothers WANT to spend time with their kids. It is how we are biologically wired, and having to head back to work is tremendously traumatic, as is handing your kid over to some stranger for 3/4 of the day and only seeing the baby at night. Sure they want to head back to work eventually, but not straight away. Presently Japan has ikukyu (one year's leave for mothers), but not everyone is eligable and many mothers choose not to return to work until their kids are 6 or 7... by which time there are HUGE barriers to re-entering the workforce.

If Japan wants mothers to return to work this is where they should be focusing, not on encouraging mothers not to take leave when their child is born. These formative years are tremendously important.

Japan is woefully backward for child-care facilities for working mothers (and fathers). Japan will pay the price when the population halves and everybody is old.

This isn't the problem with population growth. The problem is that Japanese companies are cheap! They don't give full-time employment to young people, and when they do the salaries are pathetic. As a result most young people can't afford to get married before they're in their mid-30's or later, and even then they can't afford to have children because they NEED the dual income to afford their cost of living.

Companies need to wake up and realize that they can't cut costs at the expense of society in general. Salaries need to be calculated on the assumption of one breadwinner per family, not two, thereby allowing families to genuinely have a choice. Japan also needs to wake up and realize the benefits of flexi-time, virtual working environments, company-sponsored daycare and other initiatives that Western companies have been using for literally DECADES.

If anyone is going to pay for daycare then it should be the companies, not the taxpayer. Companies are cashing in on all sides, first with beneficial tax rates, then with lower salaries, next by making taxpayers foot the bill for the daycare in order to allow companies access to cheaper working mothers (who they rarely employ at full salaries), etc, etc, etc.

The time has come for companies to start doing their bit, like every other citizen. If companies (and their shareholders) want the luxury of the legal protections treating companies like citizens (e.g. limited liability, the ability to donate to political campaigns, etc.) then they need to start acting like responsible citizens.... or face the consequences, like having their citizenship stripped and their assets seized.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Or they can have the best of both worlds for them and their families; let the babies have their undivided attention for the first two or three years, and then help out financially.

Yes, what a wonderful idea Cleo. Have them quit their careers so they can work crappy jobs when they go back - IF they go back. Good luck getting daycare as well if you quit and want to go back to work. You don't seem to be in touch with how things are here with this topic and what happens to women. Mat leave in this country doesn't allow women to take three years off and come back to a decent wage and decent hours. Know why? Because people like yourself think that moms should be home so women quit and companies won't hire them back. In a perfect world shared mat/pat leave would extend to three years so either mom OR dad could be home but guess what, that won't happen when people feel MOM should be home, not a parent. Add in that some parents can't take off that much time due to the type of job so guess what, they need... good daycares! Either way you spin in, you are not suppoortive of working mothers and are rather out of touch with what working women want these days and what they need. Their needs are not being met because of attitudes like yours. Choice. Support that even if you don't agree with it.

But most mothers WANT to spend time with their kids. It is how we are biologically wired, and having to head back to work is tremendously traumatic, as is handing your kid over to some stranger for 3/4 of the day and only seeing the baby at night. Really? Interesting. The history parent swings from mothers raising kids in groups to handing them off to wet nurses and letting nannies raise them. Many, many women in this world "hand their kids over to strangers". More so in developing nations. This isn't a new concept nor a modern world issue which some of you fail to understand.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@tmarie

Here are some facts re mothers raising kids.In olden times many women also had to work even when pregnant or shortly after giving birth. There was no choice as times were hard and it can still be like this in third world countries.

We had WW 2 and after in the west massive growth, better lifestyles and salaries which meant than many women had the choice to stay at home and nurture their children rather than having to work as their husbands or partners made enough money for the family. Along came feminism which was pushed by the Rockerfeller foundation who wanted these women in the workplace to make more consumers including their kids to increase profit for the elite. These are facts BYW and can easily be found online and are beyond dispute. The propaganda cost hundreds of millions and was used to infulence governments, corporations and the media. The result has been clear to see in th effect on western nations. Japan did not take this route and the family unit is still supported for now.

Yes, in developing nations they hand over their kids through no choice as i becoming the norm now in first world countries due to these policies. It is so simple to see if anyone looks at without a bias or agenda.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

After WW2 when all the men came home many women were let go because men were seen to "need" jobs/employment after the war. Hence, the women being let go and told to go home and look after the kids. If women are so damn happy to be home, why is depression a huge issue here amongst housewives? Why is there such a need for daycare? Why are some moms working crappy "baito" jobs to kill their boredom? Perhaps your wife was happy to stay home but most of the mothers I am friends with, no know as there is a huge difference, WANT to work. Japanese families can NOT survive on one salary these days. Blame whomever you like for that but the fact is Japan NEEDS women to be working and getting paid decently for it. The ones causing the issues for such women are the SAHW who see their job as a hobby and don't want to be paid a fair amount. You can argue that all you like but at the end of the day, women are hurting women for not supporting choice and keeping their trap shut when it comes to working women/mothers.

Without bias? I don't think you get to suggest others see things without a bias or agenda.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@tmarie

Is depression any more prevalent in housewives in Japan than working women? Never seen anything suggesting that.

You are totally wrong about WW2, it was in the early fifties that mothers could afford and were encouraged to stay at home we became more civilised and richer. Now the elite want all at work, from cradle to grave if they had their ways to bleed the workers dry and make most live a life too scared to leave their job, thinking it is their duty to go to university, to work, work,work, put their child in daycare, then education (more debt etc). Many of us see it for what it is, though some carry on with their agenda and while doing so will not reach the heights they could as they are preaching from another persons alter and thinking they are being liberating are in fact complying.

Daycare is needed in all nations because some women need to work as maybe they are single or/ and their husbands do not earn enough to provide for the family. I don't see that Japan is any dire need for daycare than any other country.

My family survives on one salary, so there is that argument ended.

You want women paid decently yet argue that one worker is not enough to provide. You don't get it do you? The more workers, the lower the salaries because the companies have more choice of workers. It equates to lower salaries and lower standards of living except for the elite and it is those men and women who have been sheep and pushed this agenda that have allowed this to happen.

I suggest people should look at facts without an agenda or bias and be flexible in their beliefs ready to change in the same way as successful business people like myself can change and adapt at any time to make our businesses thrive.

In this modern age we are divided by religion, politics, left, right, nationalism and that is what the elite want. You to blame others for your ills rather than being independent and to thrive.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Mat leave in this country doesn't allow women to take three years off and come back to a decent wage and decent hours

Maybe the companies need to learn from the civil service. My daughter is at present on a three-year mat leave and has every expectation of going back to the salary and rank she had when she left, plus flexible hours. There is also talk in the pipeline of making things even easier for police families with kids. How far profit-based companies can be expected to go down the same road is debatable - why hire a woman who is going to take time off, make things awkward and cost them money, when they can hire a man who will happily do 'service overtime' and come in at the weekends if asked? The key to making it easier for women to work is to make it easier for men to work - and to take time off. And then convince the men that that's what they want to do.

But most mothers WANT to spend time with their kids. It is how we are biologically wired, and having to head back to work is tremendously traumatic, as is handing your kid over to some stranger for 3/4 of the day and only seeing the baby at night.

Really? Interesting. The history ......

Yes, really. History tells us what women were obliged to do to keep their economic heads above water, not what they wanted to do. If you want to know what mothers really want....you gotta try wearing the shoes and walking the mile.

My daughter's schoolpals are all at the age where they're getting married and having babies. It's telling that before the birth of the first child, they all, almost without exception, say that they intend going back to work as soon as possible; then junior is born and they either change their minds and decide to stay home with the child, or go back to work as planned and fret about leaving junior behind. Of those who have gone back to work, a good half quit within a year or got pregnant again and decided to stay home longer the second time.

If women are so damn happy to be home, why is depression a huge issue here amongst housewives?

Maybe they're buying the rubbish PR about being 'only' a sahm (=second class human, parasite, boring, drab, lazy, irrelevant) while 'smart, talented' women naturally want to be following hi-flying careers in the boardroom.

Why is there such a need for daycare?

See above....also there's a huge difference between dumping a few-months-old baby with strangers while Mum gets on with her life, and finding daycare for older children to bridge the gap between formal education and parents coming home from work.

Why are some moms working crappy "baito" jobs to kill their boredom?

Being a Mum is not boring. Maybe your friends are telling you they're working out of boredom, but seriously, why would anyone work a crappy baito job for any reason except for the money? There are any number of other ways of fighting boredom.

most of the mothers I am friends with, no know as there is a huge difference (?), WANT to work

Could it be that you naturally don't become friends with the kind of woman you obviously look down on? Why would a sahm want to be friends with you, when you openly despise her lifestyle choices? As someone who has been lucky enough to be able to work from home and thus have friends in both camps, I can say that in my experience it's a roughly 8-2 between women who choose to stay home with their babies and those who are raring to get back to the office as soon as possible. When the kiddies are a bit older, ready for school, the split is nearer 6-4; when junior high looms, 3-7 the other way.

Japanese families can NOT survive on one salary these days.

Here lies the root of the confusion. Wanting to work because they need the money does not contradict ffs's assertion that we are hard-wired to want to spend time with our kids. Needing the money and wanting to get away from nappy duty are not the same thing.

The ones causing the issues for such women are the SAHW who see their job as a hobby and don't want to be paid a fair amount.

The idea that anyone wants to work and not be paid a fair amount for their labour is ridiculous. It's the tax laws that stipulate the low ceiling that are the problem, not the women who are doing their best to raise their kids according to their own standards and help out a little with the family finances. If earning an extra 5 man a month means that the family income as a whole drops by 10 man (tax allowances, health insurance, pension etc), only a fool would insist on working the extra. The problem is that the tax laws still work on the assumption that a women will be a full-time housewife for the whole of her married life, and that simply isn't the way things are now. By all means work to change the laws; sniping at your sisters who are doing the best they can with the status quo doesn't help anybody.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I am totally not wrong about WWII thank you very much. Perhaps you could read up on it and what led to women demanding equal rights and pay.

Perhaps you should do some reading on depression rates and Japanese women. I'm under the suspicion that you are waaaaay older than I am which could be why you can support a wife and family on one salary. Do you think your average 30 year old Taro could? I think a few of you older folks on the board are so out of touch with the reality of what Japan is now for younger folks that you really don't get it. I guess you don't get that there is no job for life, jobs are hard to come by, wages have gone down... Your experiences of raising kids 30 years ago doesn't mean much in terms of how much money it takes to raise a child in Japan today. Nor does your comfortably paying job that many 30 something year olds here will never have.

Perhaps Steve YOU don't see a need for daycare but guess what, those 10,000 families on waiting lists mean something else. You want women paid decently yet argue that one worker is not enough to provide. You don't get it do you? The more workers, the lower the salaries because the companies have more choice of workers. It equates to lower salaries and lower standards of living except for the elite and it is those men and women who have been sheep and pushed this agenda that have allowed this to happen.

It seems to be YOU who is not getting it. Many women are NOT happy to stay at home. That is what we are talking about. I'd also love some papers and articles/links to support the poppycock you've just come up with with regards to women working means lower salaries for everyone. Horrible for companies to have more choice eh? That might mean that men wouldn't automatically be the breadwinner, eh? Heaven forbid a company decide that women are better workers and pay them their worth...

Cleo, I wish they would look at the civil service and take note. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen anytime soon. I find it "funny" that you take issue with daycares and taxes but don't have an issue with your tax money being used to fund your daughters mat leave.

Obligations? Yes, the lack of choice. Exactly what we are discussing. Women, just like men, shouldn't feel obligated to give up their work because they've had a kid.

Cleo, you'll never walk in MY shoes as a woman who doesn't want to give up working FT and have a career so perhaps you could pipe down? Seems to be more and more of my kind in Japan these days which is why the number of kids has dropped and why people aren't getting married in the numbers they used to.

Your anecdote is not telling at all. For all you know these women have been pressured to quit work, not because they want to be home. The same goes for being a mom. I can think of nothing more boring that sending your kids off to strangers (teachers, coaches, tutors, swimming teachers, dance teachers, eikaiwa...) and not having a decent paying job to fulfill the time. You worked once your kids were older, no? You also got paid decently, no? Your experiences are not the same an most other women here. Your experiences are that, yours. Please don't try and speak for others.

I have no idea why you are so against giving women a choice. If they want to stay home, fine. I don't want to support them. If they want to work, I'm more than happy to support their daycare just as I am happy to support schools, hospitals and the like. A shame you refuse to understand that allowing others choice is the key to a woman's and her family's happiness and well being.

I won't bother posting anymore on this as it is pretty obvious there is a huge generation gap here. Thankfully my parents support my "right" to have a choice. I couldn't imagine anything less.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@tmarie

Thank you for replying to my last post. Your problem seems to be making assumptions about people based on your own ideas and biases. For your information, i have two children under the age of ten, wife wife is two years younger than me and still of child bearing age, 30 years ago she was not even in JHS.

Equal rights and pay are not what we are talking about, women have equal rights and pay under the law in all first world nations. There was a need for equality and that has been resolved.

I have never said there is not a need for daycare.

Yes, more workers to choose from mean lower wages whether that means more women, men, elderly or immigrants in the workforce, it matters not.. No conspiracy theory there, these are facts without dispute.

I get what work is about and we have people like you, University educated with a working partner worrying about 3% rise in consumption tax and how much the price of veg has risen. This is what i am saying about hook, line and sinker. Low paid consumers is what they want and in many people's cases is what they have got. They want them divided, so they can argue the toss and blames others for the ills.

Luckily your parents support your right to have a choice though as an adult who has been in Japan for a long time, why would you need to mention them?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I find it "funny" that you take issue with daycares and taxes but don't have an issue with your tax money being used to fund your daughters mat leave.

I find it funny that you think a woman on extended maternity leave is being 'funded' by anyone other than her husband...?

I'm all for taxes being used to support mothers, whether they choose to stay at home or need to work for financial reasons. What I object to is subsidising the woman who chooses to work because she finds it preferable to looking after her own children / has a career to pursue and is stashing away the cash to give herself and her husband a hefty nest-egg for their retirement. Help those who need help, by all means. And means-test those who don't.

For all you know these women have been pressured to quit work, not because they want to be home.

Quite the opposite. They're young, their equally young husbands aren't earning huge salaries, the pressure is to keep working, not to quit.

I have no idea why you are so against giving women a choice. If they want to stay home, fine. I don't want to support them. If they want to work, I'm more than happy to support their daycare

This is where we differ. I'm all in favour of choice. If mothers want to stay home with their kids, fine, I'm more than happy to support them. If they need to work, fine, I'm more than happy to support them, too. The women I'm not happy to support are the ones who choose to work because they're bored at home, because they think they have better things to do than raise the kids they chose to bring into the world.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I thought the pension system favors woman who become permanent housewives? Don't couples where the wife quits and becomes a full time house wife collect far more in pension payouts (together over time) on average relative to what they pay in? Correct me if I am wrong here, but please give me some sources.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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