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From some Japanese men's perspective there's little need to have relationships. They see their finances being essentially halved when you get a wife and if you have a child along with that, even more.

22 Comments

Dan West, digital strategist and innovations manager at London-based advertising agency FCB Inferno. (CNBC)

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22 Comments
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Relationships are a two-way street...

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Speaking for myself, for a long while in Japan I didn't want to get married/etc for similar reasons, but one day it just changed: I didn't want to see myself NOT with the woman who is now my wife. That and I wanted kids. I assume for everyone the reasons behind marriage and child rearing are deeply personal.

If, at the end of the day, you're choosing how to live based on money then some deep soul searching might be in order. People who worry too much about money will never find happiness, especially in a relationship.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I'd gladly give up half my income and more for my kids. My money wouldn't mean much to me without them.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I'd gladly give up half my income and more for my kids.

When you become a parent you 'give up' your income, your time and (some would claim) your sanity. But what you get back is worth way, way, more. The more gladly you give it up, the bigger the return.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Probably a more accurate reframe is that most of these guys are NOT capable of mature sustainable, reciprocal intimacy.

I would venture to guess this goes both ways. I would imagine it's hard for any male in Japanese society to extend an open-armed embrace to a lifetime of becoming what essentially amounts to a human AMT for his wife once the children are born. And that's the key. Intimacy issues don't usually rear their ugly head until the children are born. And then the dysfunction of the Japanese family unit becomes painfully apparent: The wife loses sexual interest in her husband because he is no longer a partner in intimacy, but rather a Father, with a capital "F" and all that implies. Having sex with a Father, even if it's your own husband, is apparently a very uncomfortable prospect for a surprising number of Japanese women. So the couple starts sleeping in separate rooms.

Faced with the equivalent of sexual banishment (at least until the wife decides it's time for another child), both husband and wife begin a slow, inexorable retreat from one another, physically and emotionally.

But being social creatures, human beings can't long endure this kind of isolation, self-imposed or not, for very long. So you see the infidelity begin, physically, emotionally, or a combination of the two. Both husbands and wives do it. And the family unit becomes a cold parody of itself, with dad coming home on the weekends and holidays to provide family "service" because social customs dictate he must, and the wife puts on her best smile in front of friends and family, doing her utmost to convince the outside world that she is a dutiful wife.

Meanwhile, the father works ever longer hours to serve two purposes: 1) to ensure he is a good financial provider, as per societal dictate, and 2) to escape the emotionally barren moonscape that his home has become.

The mother, on the other hand, spends the vast majority of her day worrying incessantly about whether or not the life her family lives is up to snuff, so to speak, in the eyes of friends an neighbors. Is their home large enough? Do their children wear the best clothes? Are they enrolled in enough piano classes, English classes, swimming lessons? Are they travelling enough during the holidays? Does the family present, even superficially, the outward appearance of an upwardly mobile, unmitigated social success? And so she pushes the husband harder to provide the financial resources needed to maintain this appearance, even superficially.

And so the wheel goes round until the husband eventually retires to a home where the wife can't stand him being around because he's essentially a stranger, and she divorces him.

I suspect what's at work here is not that men are simply wanting to hang on to more of the money they make; I think they’re perfectly willing to share the fruits of their labor with the right person. What gives them pause is the very real possibility that they will get very little in return out of their investment.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

what makes him such an expert? seeing as he is so spectacularly wrong.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

To be fair, it did say "some." So, I guess for some men, he's right.

Anyways, I completely agree with you kaynide. When you meet the right person, you've met the right person. And all the woulda, or shoulda, or whatever becomes rather moot.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

LFRAgain I agree with you all the way. I know many unmarried partially for similar reasons. I want in my life to do and go how I please. After living several years in Japan I realized that marriage goes beyond a good supportive wife and even a kid or two...but into a territory where the husband is just the ATM machine in the eyes of many in Japanese society. I am happy without kids. I am always open to a good woman who matches up to me in all the good ways blah blah blah....but who wants to work for years just to be a drone. Family life is sold to us as the end game. I am happy for those who have a good one...but it ain't for everyone. I agree with what Dan West said because in Japan I know many men feel that way. In the states many men feel that way about marriage, but they still have relationships in most cases. There are many articles in American publications saying similar things.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@tmarie

Anything a wife here has to offer can be bought....

The Beatles would beg to differ ; )

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I don't think Japanese men are that greedy for money or such big spenders. Who wouldn't want a fulfilling relationship if they could have one, no matter what the cost.

I think this London-based advertising agency might be mistaken.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Allen Asia ; What planet are you from ??? Inability to sustain intimate relationships is not race exclusive- i.e. it is not something that is only prevalent in Japan -; - - - - -It is phenomena that can be found ANYWHERE in the GLOBAL (if you wish) community . . . and it is one key aspect all individuals struggle with being able to work through fulfilling relationships anywhere. **

LFRAgain::::Everything you write is characteristic of individuals who resort to that kind of structured almost contractual relationship because relationships where power and responsibility are shared and there is mutuality, reciprocity and spontaneity are threatening or unknown psycho-social domain

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Lucabrasi, I don't see a lot of love here. I see a lot of obligations. Certainly not all married couples but many.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Not surprised, when men have such a wide variety of soaplands, "health girls", hostess bars, on line hookups, teenage prostitution, the abundance of girl bands, magazines and pornography and the "right hand". Is this what Abe is talking about when he says "more women in the work force"?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

LFRAgain,

Excellent analysis. How do we get couples and families off this empty consumerist hamster wheel?

There has to be more to life than this, for the sanity of the nation.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Anything a wife here has to offer can be bought, no strings attached, except for kids.

Excellent comment, and I totally agree with you (except the for kids thing, I predict that surrogate pregnancy will become more common here mainly because of the deep Japanese aversion to adopting children that aren't biologically related).

Just about anything that falls under that category of so-called "women's work" can easily be outsourced, and in fact very often is even by housewives! Childcare, elder care, cooking and cleaning and that thing that is euphemistically known as the oldest profession in the world, are all services that can easily be bought. Housewives can be replaced. Breadwinners can't.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Yes, basing comments on the future working section of Japan. How narrow minded of me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When I was a university student I had zero interest in getting married. In fact I had zero interest in getting married right up to my mid-twenties, a few months after I met the future Mr cleo. He tells me he also had zero interest in getting married until it came to the crunch.

I don't think asking 'the future working section of Japan (or anywhere)' about their views on marriage will give a very representative idea of the views of the population as a whole. Or even the views of the same young folk a few years down the road when they have (hopefully...) a bit more maturity under their belts.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Probably a more accurate reframe is that most of these guys are NOT capable of mature sustainable, reciprocal intimacy.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Many of my males students have zero desire to get married. I don't blame them. Anything a wife here has to offer can be bought, no strings attached, except for kids. I certainly wouldn't be too happy to hand over half my pay packet while I work and they sit at home or have private tennis lessons and put the kid in kindy. Kids are certainly one thing but the way Japanese women here want a walking ATM I don't blame these men. A career woman on the other hand? Great! Sharing is great. Being taken advantage of is not.

Excellent post LFR.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Indeed they can't - a shame so many haven't learned that yet!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yes, basing comments on the future working section of Japan.

That are teenagers or just above the age of teenagers. Your "logic" is unsound. Why not conjure up future employment figures based on surveying kindergarten kids? If this concept is too difficult to grasp, you might consider a vocation more suited to your intelligence.

How narrow minded of me.

This thesis is correct. Apparently self-appraisal is something that you are capable of.

@Cleo

Thank you for restoring my belief in humanity. Mid-twenties? Wow, more power to you and lucky Mr. C.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Many of my males students have zero desire to get married.

Basing statistics on university age students? What a broad strata of society. You might want to rethink your strategy.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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