Japan in 2030: A country from which families have disappeared

TOKYO —

The cozy home scenario is easy to envisage. On a weekday evening, a middle-aged salaryman returns to his 3LDK “manshon,” located 75 minutes by train from his place of employment. He’d purchased it for just under 50 million yen while in his mid-30s.

Shouting out, “tadaima” (I’m home), his son, a high-school student, and daughter, in middle school, respond “okaeri nasai” (welcome home) in unison. His wife’s voice resonates from the kitchen, where she’s preparing supper. It’s the most tranquil moment of the day—the time when all his hard work seems worthwhile.

Their marriage was a “love” match made in his late 20s with a co-worker at the office. His wife left the job after becoming pregnant with their son.

As mundane as these may seem, it’s a reasonably happy existence. After retirement from the job, the couple looks forward to motor trips around the country in the family car.

But in the Japan of the not-too-distant future, even such modest aspirations may no longer be viable. Divorce now affects one marriage in three, and the hubby might very well end his days as a temp-help worker, living in a one-room apartment and subsisting on a single hot meal of “gyudon” (stewed beef over rice) each day.

As Shukan Gendai (Dec 15) reports, this year the number of regular staff at major corporations who have applied for early retirement is said to have more than doubled over 2011. Prof Masahiro Yamada of Chuo University was quoted in the morning edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nov 7) as saying that these and other developments do not bode well for the continued existence of what is referred to as the “standard family” (husband, wife and kids). Particularly for the generation born from around 1970 onwards, the number of workers no longer able to sustain the standard household is projected to keep growing.

“Men who remain single into middle age and who live alone have been on the increase,” notes Katsuhiko Fujimori of the Mizuho Information & Research Institute, Inc. “Looking at trends in single males in their 50s and 60s, during the 20 years from 1985 to 2005, the number increased between four to five-fold. If this continues, by 2030 about one male in four in his 50s and 60s will be living alone.”

Factors influencing the growth of this segment include men who cannot marry due to unstable incomes and/or irregular employment; men who lived off their parents (so-called “parasite singles”) who are unable to achieve financial independence; and families that have fallen apart due to the main breadwinner’s loss of gainful employment.

This trend toward single households is already starting to manifest itself in various aspects of society. Akio Doteuchi, a senior researcher at the NLI Research Institute points out that two years earlier, the cooking lessons aired on NHK’s educational channel began to reduce recipe servings from four to two.

“In Tokyo, the average number of individuals per household has already dropped to 1.99 persons,” Doteuchi points out.

In other words, Japan’s typical “model” family, of a working husband, wife as a full-time homemaker and one to two children, has already begun to disappear.

What sort of implications does this mean for Japan’s future? One change will be a rapidly growing number of socially alienated elderly. And Doteuchi also expects that suicides will increase.

“Of the 33,000 cases of suicides per year, those aged 60 and over account for some 12,000—or more than one-third of the total,” he says, adding that alienation and health problems are considered the most common causes of suicide. “Particularly because of an increasing number of divorces between couples in their later years, there’s a trend toward even greater social alienation.”

The crumbling family structure will have wider consequences for many sectors of the nation’s economy.

“People won’t need to own cars, and there will be fewer home buyers,” an unnamed business consultant tells Shukan Gendai. “Changes will also impact service industries. Likewise for outlays for children’s education—many cram schools are likely to disappear.”

A single temp worker, a man in his 60s, reflects the sense of purposelessness and emptiness in his life. “I’ve given up on the idea of ever getting married, but I’m afraid to die alone,” he says. “So I’m accumulating savings to get myself into a rest facility.”

As laughter of families vanishes from cities and towns, the Japan of the future will instead be one reverberating with sounds of pain and misery. That, predicts Shukan Gendai, is the kind of country that Japan is in the process of becoming.

  • -2

    mikihouse

    Lets see...the countryside is becoming ghost towns. Nobody wants to cultivate the land anymore. Everybody wants a piece of the city. Nobody wants to fish anymore except for the harliners (old generation). The guys become efiminate. The girls wants to be pampered. No end in sight. But then this is not only japan's problem. Its the world.

    You see building a nation on credit because everybody wants a life of luxury and sacrificing the future generation to suffer the consequences is banal.

    World War III is coming. Balkanization of the US, China, and Euro too.

    It is the only chance to reset the economy.

  • 4

    Ronald F Stark

    It's already happening, look around and you'll see it everywhere!

  • 7

    marcelito

    Sad but true.

  • 10

    soldave

    The middle-aged salaryman comes home mid-evening? What about the hostess he's funding and seeing, causing him to get home late and drunk? She definitely needs to get mentioned in Japan's cosy image.

  • 9

    samwatters

    Personally I hope it's the "zoo effect." The "zoo effect" is the theory that when animals in the zoo sense their surroundings are in danger, they will not breed. Maybe one of the factors in the refusal of the young to get married is the current shape of the economy; family is just too risky when you could be losing losing your job at any time. I hope so anyway...

  • 13

    gaijinfo

    This is called "demographic shift" and it has happened in every post industrial society. As people become wealthier, they have less kids. On top of this, the stigma and economic consequence of divorce is becoming less, and the social pressure to get married is also becoming less.

    This is simply the natural progression of things. Not bad, not good. Just billions of humans slowly changing their behavior as time marches on.

    It's only politicians, and their never ending lust for power, who see the inevitable shrinking of the GDP as a sign of danger, and who clamor for some kind of "cure" for this"disease."

    GDP was always a fake number anyway, created so politicians can "keep score."

    In reality, the economy is merely the sum total of the buying decisions of the population. If it shrinks, so what? Less people, less money, less products. No big deal.

  • 3

    Frungy

    samwattersDec. 04, 2012 - 08:48AM JST Personally I hope it's the "zoo effect." The "zoo effect" is the theory that when animals in the zoo sense their surroundings are in danger, they will not breed. Maybe one of the factors in the refusal of the young to get married is the current shape of the economy; family is just too risky when you could be losing losing your job at any time. I hope so anyway...

    You make a good point, and this phenomenon is very complex. We also need to look at the working conditions that create these home situations.

  • -11

    gogogo

    Divorce now affects one marriage in three,

    Who wrote this? Divorce is not a disease, it doesn't "affect" anything, you can't catch it like a cold.

  • 3

    Alex Einz

    nope but its a trend, and popular trends tend to increase

  • 12

    oikawa

    50 million for a 3LDK 75 minutes from Tokyo?? WTF. This salaryman gor ripped off big time.

  • 5

    AKBfan

    The Japanese dream has died.

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    This article points up the dangers of statistics.

    Using them to predict the future is one.

    A pendulum can swing in TWO directions.

    There may well be a pendulum swing in the opposite direction and people might wish to live in the countryside, have close family units and work near home. This is entirely possible and, with the internet, actually a salaryman's physical presence at the office might be a once a week affair or even less frequent.

    Statistics regard everybody as being the same.

    People are not.

  • 20

    semperfi

    The Japanese ridiculous kaishya-system of over - exploiting workers has contibuted greatly to the fact the Japan is gradually imploding on itself.

  • 0

    Virtuoso

    50 million for a 3LDK 75 minutes from Tokyo??

    Oikawa@It's likely they bought it in the mid-1990s when new condo prices were still a bit higher than they are at present.

  • 10

    tkoind2

    Social isolation is a biproduct of modern capitalism. The system does not care about maintaining a social fabric. It only cares about cheap labor and retaining a population of consumers.

    I know this sounds dark, but if you look carefully at how the global economy is developing, this is what it is.

    The loss of family stability and structure will damage society in ways far beyone the white picket fence vision of life. It will harm education levels, innovation, polical and social structures, the arts and humanities and it will likely contribute to greater social alienation for everyone.

    You cannot solve this problem socially. It is an economic problem brought on by society allowing corporations and profits to define public policy and social development. The only way to end this is to end the way capitalism works today. Shift from a consumer driven world to a sustainability driven world. And require distribution of wealth in a way that maintains the fabric of society.

    One way or the other this will come down to a battle between the current system and either the results of its inevitable decline or the efforts of people to fight against it for a better way of life.

  • 2

    Scrote

    Single men don't live as long as married ones, so the life expectancy figures should start to drop before long. Poverty is also a killer: Koizumi's introduction of temporary work contracts should knock a few more years off of the average lifespan.

  • 0

    Reckless

    My proposal is to allow bigamy for men and women. A person with a good job can support 2-10 spouses and the Japanese dream will live on forever.

  • 3

    Bogart

    Single men don't live as long as married ones

    Scrote, it just doesn't seem as long.

  • 1

    Rahul Nirmal

    A lot of what was described in the article isn't exclusive to Japan, but also in the U.S and many other places around the world as well. Things certainly are not like in our parent's generation.

  • 0

    Psyops

    The signs are there, time to jump ship for greener pastures. Well unless your from a much poorer country you might as well stick it out or you are that hardcore ex-pat who thinks they are Japanese (really, you are not and never will be) then best of luck to ya :D

  • 1

    oikawa

    Virtuoso

    It's a hypothetical article, there's no date as to when it was bought. It would still be a rip off though even if was bought then. Do you realise how far out of the city 75 minutes is? In the mid-90s places that are being developed now, like Tsukuba, were nothing. Buying a 3LDK there should have been on average 20 million or so at most.

  • 0

    oikawa

    Actually sorry, if there is a date at all it would be now, as the article is referring to 2030 and a middle aged salaryman who bought an apartment in his mid-30s, i.e now.

  • 1

    tmarie

    Factors influencing the growth of this segment include men who cannot marry due to unstable incomes and/or irregular employment; men who lived off their parents (so-called “parasite singles”) who are unable to achieve financial independence; and families that have fallen apart due to the main breadwinner’s loss of gainful employment.

    So let's just sum this paragraph up with ... Many Japanese women are nothing but parasites who refuse to marry a man who doesn't make enough to look after them.

    Heaven forbid the women in this country get off their backside and help with making a decent income here. And before anyone argues that women here can't make a decent wage, wrong. They can. The thing is many women will look for mindless jobs when they are job searching as they have full intention of finding a man to marry and sponge off for the rest of their life.

    Unmarried men means unmarried women. Who will look after these women when their parents die? A job that pays peanuts and no pension? Japanese women, wake up!! You're killing this country with your spoiled and materialist ways.

  • 3

    jkirkham

    Modern Japan is full of layabouts. The country is underbreeding itself out of existence. It's economic status will decline with its population. How will the government ever pay its huge public debt without a population to tax it from?

    Japan needs a government with vision and vitality to stimulate economic and population growth.

  • 1

    avigator

    When people think of money as assurance of their own well being, they tend to feel over confident and disregard basic social skills and principles of humanity. Yes, the chase after unjust profits will come back later to haunt societies for their greedy and selfish pursuits. I remember Japan when 3 families could be living in the same compound or even same roof. Not anymore. But it is a social phenomena of the days we live in. Remember the parable of the fig tree.

  • 8

    Tessa

    Japanese women, wake up!! You're killing this country with your spoiled and materialist ways.

    tmarie, as per usual I absolutely agree with your opinions and I like your way of expressing them. Thank you.

    The big fat elephant in the room is that Japanese women are, in fact, not so much oppressed as just plain lazy. Many of the middle-aged women I know have not paid one iota of income tax in their whole lives, nor have they done a very good job of raising their kids (in fact, they pretty much expected the schools to take care of all that ... and boy did they blame and complain when the schools didn't get it right!). They point-blank refuse to take care of their elderly relatives, and are swift to shove them into rest homes at the first opportunity.

    In public they like to whine that Japanese society makes it impossible for them to work and take care of their families at the same time, but in private they freely admit that they like the easy life, and have no plans to get off the gravy train. Go to any high class restaurant or genteel cafe in the middle of the day, and count the number of men around. I'll bet you anything that roughly 9 out of 10 customers are middle-class, middle-aged females, sitting around eating chiffon cake and complaining about their husbands.

    Quite a few women have openly admitted to me that they are waiting for their husbands to die, so they can do as they please (because running around to hula dance classes and daily coffee klatches is not enough excitement for them, presumably). And they have to nerve to complain about pension cuts! Remind me again why I'm paying taxes to this country?

  • 0

    fsolana

    Japan is not alone. This should be a global concern. The same thing also happens in Indonesia, at least the signs. In Indonesia, I think it relates more with government policy upon workforce.

    Since Reformation Era, or the downfall of Soeharto, it is difficult for a man to find permanent job due to the presence of outsourcing policy. Companies may do anything they want to their employees, exploiting them at their productive years without giving adequate compensation when they're getting older. If it is capitalism that should be blamed, then how should we change the mechanism?

  • 2

    Serrano

    This article is foreboding.

    "WW III is coming"

    Yeah, but after that people will finally get with the program and the Federation will be born!

  • 1

    tmarie

    Tessa, well said. My husband took the day off a few weeks ago and was nearly sick when he realized he was the only man eating lunch where we were. He was shocked at how badly the kids were behaving and the overall volume if the women there. Lazy and spoiled. Women are t out gathering wood for the fires nor out in the fields like they use to be. A press of a button gets most chores done but yet, they are allowed to stay home while the men slave away. It's disgusting. Don't get me started on the pension thing!

  • 1

    DentShop

    was nearly sick when he realized he was the only man eating lunch where we were

    He needs to take a day off more than every ten years or so. Nothing new there.

  • -1

    malfupete

    50 million yen seems a bit steep

  • 1

    MapleG

    Having a spouse does not guarantee one will not die alone. Remember, one of you has to go first.

  • 7

    Andrew Decena

    Some of us guys who end up alone will get a dog.

  • -7

    Sean Schloss

    Welcome to Americanization...where perception is way better than reality; and the reality is that America's ways aren't very good.

  • -2

    oberst

    buy a car, get the chick ( repeat as needed, before ,during, after marriages ) and thou shall not die alone.

  • 4

    Fadamor

    Who wrote this? Divorce is not a disease, it doesn't "affect" anything, you can't catch it like a cold.

    Who in the world told you that the only things that can affect other things are diseases? If I announce a new contract with another company, that news will affect the market value of both companies and THAT will affect our stock prices if we're publically held. Divorce can most certainly affect a marriage. The most obvious effect (note the difference) is that the marriage is ended. Sometimes it's not permanently ended, but in the majority of cases it is a permanent situation.

  • -1

    Jaymann

    I put it to the author of this article that he doesn't know what the world will look like in 5 years let alone 20. This kind of futurist extrapolation from the present is as futile as it is alarmist.

  • 3

    volland

    This may be a world wide problem, but there are huge differences. In most "developped" nations, people do have a family life, they are home by 6 or 7pm.

    First, the people of Japan have to understand that their country is the one with the by far lowest quality of life for an average person in the first world. Then they need to learn what causes it, and then they can start doing something about.

    But instead, they will vote LDP again.

  • 0

    Juan Carlos Barbosa Padilla

    Japan is becoming slowly the Forever Alone nation...

  • 3

    nedinjapan

    Social and mental health problems abound in this country. A lot of this has cultural roots. I know a lot of Middle aged fathers who are hated (in words) by their children because they "smell". Women stop romance at middle age because they think as "mothers" they have to attend to other activities. In short, there is little balance. A lot of divorces happen just like that. My Japanese wife that I am trying to divorce now, wanted to have sex every 3-4 months. For her, as many others, marriage was only a way to live off the husband without having to work; that was all! This society is simply getting what it is doing to itself.

  • 0

    sighclops

    Tessa nailed it!

  • -1

    Sensato

    My previous Japanese employer was displeased that I insisted on going back to my home country once a year for family visits, and 'kindly' asked me if I could make those trips once every two years instead. Also, they persistently had me working extra days on weekends and national holidays, showing absolutely no regard for my responsibilities to my children -- I quit. (Moral of the story: think twice before working for a Japanese company)

    The falling birthrate in Japan is a vicious circle, with a lack of regard for the importance of family time among companies and childless coworkers further discouraging ever larger numbers of young adults from starting families of their own.

    The situation won't improve until people here finally decide to get their heads out of the sand and show a measure of outrage at the pro-company, anti-family stance so prevalent here. I don't see that happening any time soon.

  • -1

    Rahul Nirmal

    What a crumbling society it seems. :(

  • 0

    Nancy Foust

    There is plenty of this in the US. Corporations treat employees like disposable cups. There is no job security in many places. Longer hours, heavier workloads all with the threat that you could be booted out the door at any moment. This has become the norm for office, retail and manufacturing.

    Even those who do find full time permanent work the pay vs. cost of living has been rapidly getting out of balance over the last 10 years. There are plenty of young people who can't afford to have kids between daycare and related costs vs. one person's paycheck. There really isn't any social support system in the US anymore even though politicians like to make it sound like the US is full of moochers.

    I know many in the US being mandated by their employers to work 50-80 hours a week for salary (no overtime) meaning your per hour pay is very low. Japan has their own version of this mess but it stems from making capitalism more socially important than everything else.

  • -3

    tmarie

    He needs to take a day off more than every ten years or so. Nothing new there.

    Wow, talk about making a large assumption based on one comment.

    I can't be the only one laughing at the picture this writer painted. How many husbands come home early in time for dinner with their families here? Better yet, how many families actually eat dinner together? Mom eats alone while the kids are at juku. Kid comes home tired, shovels food into their mouths while watching TV, goes off to their room play games on the TV mom and dad bought for their room while mom watches crap J TV. Dad is either avoiding coming home or out at a work thing. When dad finally comes home, the wife is still watching TV or in bed. The kids are probably still up playing games but I highly doubt they chat to each other. Dad takes a bath and goes to bed. He MIGHT see his kids in the morning before work.

    One of the saddest things here is that no one eats together. Even when they are out for a "family" dinner, mom is on her phone, dad is reading the paper and the kids are playing a game. This doomsday scenario is alive and well now. Go out on the weekend and take a look. Yes, Kizuna alive and well in 2012.

  • 3

    Yardley

    A single temp worker, a man in his 60s, reflects the sense of purposelessness and emptiness in his life. "I've given up on the idea of ever getting married, but I'm afraid to die alone," he says. "So I'm accumulating savings to get myself into a rest facility."

    There is no reason to be purposeless or have an empty life just because you are middle-aged (or older) and haven't married. The best thing this guy could do would be to find some volunteer work to do. It would get his mind off his own troubles, help others, and make him feel useful and needed. He would make lots of connections with other people, maybe even some good friends, so he wouldn't have to worry about dying alone. Being married and having children is no guarantee of not dying alone.

  • -4

    warispeace

    Have to love the results of neo-liberal economic policy. Japan (and every other country) built its stable middle class through protectionism and redistribution. When the country shifted to Anglo-saxon capitalism, the writing was on the wall.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    The middle-aged salaryman comes home mid-evening? What about the hostess he's funding and seeing, causing him to get home late and drunk? She definitely needs to get mentioned in Japan's cosy image.

    This is definitely not the norm anymore. 20 years ago? Maybe, but salarymen can no longer afford to keep their honey's. The economy has been so bad that now it's more izakaya and karaoke/snacks and drinking shochu or awamori, vs nihonshu or imported whiskey. I went through it and as much as I miss the "old" days these days are better.

    Less stress keeping things a secret.

  • 1

    Dennis Bauer

    In 2030 love pillows for all?

  • 0

    Riceland

    I believe it maybe a good thing since the Japanese women can be free to earn their own money and to be not abuse on a system that still takes them for granted. women are people in the marriage too but they are force to stop working because of marriage.

  • 0

    Disillusioned

    This is already going on. There are so many singles in their late 30's to 50's it is very obvious. However, as a single guy in my late 40's it does have its up side. : D

  • -1

    Eduardo Gonzalez

    PLEASE SLAM THE BRAKES ON THIS!!!!!!!!! There's something smelly on every prefecture in this country, where the aura has dropped to an all time low since its first readings. How 'bout a massive propaganda curtailing this type of issue nationwide, as every 60 seconds, this country is getting even more bluer since the very beginnings of the current Heisei in early January 1989

  • -1

    Thunderbird2

    Well that's a depressing little missive isn't it?

    I've seen stuff like this before, about how the western world would be a wasteland in the year 2000... they were wrong then, and these doom-merchants will be wrong here.

  • 0

    lostrune2

    That's why there's a manga titled "Sayuki no Sato" that provides an answer for this issue, hahaha!

  • 3

    cierzo98

    tmarie - you seem predisposed to see and remember only that which matches the opinions you have already formed. Yes, there are plenty of famiies that live as you describe in Japan, and plenty of them in other countries these days as well. The kids and TV/computer games in the bedroom thing isn't only Japan. But Japan is where you are and what you see, and not as you remember your idylic childhood so it's a Japan only problem in your eyes. Well it's not - it's happening in certain parts of society in most developed countries. And in Japan, as elsewhere, there are just as many examples of a more traditional family life if you are open to recognising it. Possibly you should be more concerned that, if your husband is almost sick at the sight of a cafe full of women at lunch time, he maybe needs to see a therapist. It's a worrying over-reaction to something that shouldn't really affect him. I sometimes find myself in cafes or restaurants where most other customers are women - it has never made feel like being sick.

  • -5

    tmarie

    The middle-aged salaryman comes home mid-evening? What about the hostess he's funding and seeing, causing him to get home late and drunk? She definitely needs to get mentioned in Japan's cosy image.

    In most marriages here women control the purse strings so it seems that when those things happened, the women were well aware of it and more than happy to put up with it.

    I believe it maybe a good thing since the Japanese women can be free to earn their own money and to be not abuse on a system that still takes them for granted. women are people in the marriage too but they are force to stop working because of marriage.

    Women have, for the past few generations, been free to earn their own money. The thing is, they don't want to. They'd rather marry Taro, stay home and control the purse strings while Taro works his guts off to support his family. If a wife is not working to stay home and look after the kids, why are moms sending their kids to yochien? Are the moms that uneducated that they can't teach their kids basic manners, math and writing skills? Nope. They aren't. They are very well educated but would rather get the brats out of the house so they can go and enjoy cake and coffee with their friends at the local cafe. It is disgusting how these women leech of the men here and then have the nerve to complain about how hard they are done by.

    Cierzo, I have never said this is a Japan only problem. I have never said I had the perfect childhood. What you're failing to realise is that Japan is in the WORST financial shape of any country out there - and it is getting worse. There have been ZERO austerity measures here to reform things. Oh, the tax rate. Yes, that means nothing. No raise in retirement age, no cutbacks, no stopping the handouts to the leech SAHW who have never paid a yen into health care or pension who yet, get to collect.

    And no, HE doesn't need to any help for seeing just how pathetic the situation here is in Japan. If anyone needs help, it is the deluded folks who seem to think that Japan can keep chugging along like it is. The bubble is long gone and women here need to get this into their heads. The life their mummy had is gone. If they want materialist things, they need to get off their butts and make the money to buy them, not poor Taro who never sees his kids. And while they're at it, they can pay their own pension and health care like the rest of us who work for a living.

  • -3

    Tessa

    And while they're at it, they can pay their own pension and health care like the rest of us who work for a living.

    Amen, sister. As far as I'm concerned, there is no excuse for any educated, healthy woman to refuse gainful employment, especially if she's successfully managing to outsource the care of her kids/parents to schools/nursing homes (all on the taxpayers' dime, no less), and has a home lavishly equipped with labor-saving devices such as automatic washing machines, microwave ovens, etc.

    Speaking as a taxpayer, I'm sick and tired of pulling the weight for these lazy cake-munchers. If they want pension plans and healthcare in their old age, them let them damn well work for it. It's what the rest of us have to do. Why should they be any exception?

  • -4

    tmarie

    100% agree with you Tessa. What I don't understand is why the men allow it. Nor those women who are working their guts out and don't have kids and support these leeches. What kills me if that working women who own their own businesses or pay their own pension/health care get less of a pension than the cake munchers. How on earth is THAT fair??? More so if these women are FT working moms to boot!!

  • -4

    Tessa

    What I don't understand is why the men allow it.

    I think you've answered your own question in a previous post, when you mentioned the lack of time that dads spend with their kids. To wit, most Japanese males are raised solely by their mothers and naturally are heavily influenced by their mindsets. How many times have you heard of hardworking salarymen making an effort to come home early from work, and being severely scolded by their wives for having the temerity to set foot in their own homes before 10PM? Kids grow up watching this family dynamic, and assume that it's normal. (I mean really, a man being booted out of his own home that he paid for???)

    I partly blame the baby boomers. They raised their daughters to be cake-munching ladies of leisure, and their sons to be corporate drones, and now their grandkids are repeating the same vicious cycle, oblivious to the fact that that model doesn't work anymore. And we're the ones left carrying the can.

  • -3

    Tessa

    I sometimes find myself in cafes or restaurants where most other customers are women - it has never made feel like being sick.

    If you understood Japanese, and overheard their conversations, you'd feel sick. No intellectual or political curiosity, no concerns in the world except what to wear for the next coffee klatch. No interest in any topic that doesn't directly concern their own happiness.

    And the nasty way some of these women talk about their husbands makes me feel ill. I used to mistakenly believe that Japanese women were poor little oppressed creatures who didn't have any rights. Now, after getting to know a few hundred of them, I've come to see that they are possibly the most selfish and decadent creatures in the modern world.

  • -2

    tmarie

    Have to say, I never had that "poor little women" thing. My first week in Japan I was teaching a class full of housewives who laughed at me for working and told me to find a husband as it was much easier. They then went on to bash their husbands every class all while talking about the holidays and fancy restaurants they had visited. Never did they see the issues with what they were doing - and most don't even when you point out that idiot Taro is the reason why the have a roof over their head, can afford a brand name bag and yochien for the brats. It is unreal.

    And you're right, they grow up with horrific role models and think dad not being home is "normal". Then articles like this appear and I laugh because it really hasn't been like what is suggested since the war. In fact, never. Not here at least. They're their own worst enemies. The men are working harder for less money, the women think they're cutting bag and crying about it and yet... worse and worse it becomes. I have no idea how famlies near me afford a car, a house, two kids, yochien, holidays... all on hubby's salary. I figure they're either heavily in debt or the grandparents are footing the bills. Going to be a reality check when the grandparents either get sick and need round the clock care or die and have no money. Not to mention when the loans are due and there is no cash. No way can these families afford it on what I assume they're making.

  • -1

    cleo

    How many times have you heard of hardworking salarymen making an effort to come home early from work, and being severely scolded by their wives for having the temerity to set foot in their own homes before 10PM?

    You mean in real life, not a TV soap?

    Lemme think....

    Never.

  • -1

    marcelito

    Tessa and tmarie - you ladies are on a roll - as a men I agree with you completely on the legions of spoiled, lazy princess housewives out there...not every single one is like that but way too many fit your descriptions.

  • -3

    Tessa

    It's most likely the grandparents who are footing the bills, the baby boomers that I mentioned - recent retirees on big fat pensions, at least far bigger than we can ever hope for. They even brag about being the luckiest generation that Japan has ever known, and I'm inclined to agree with them. The men amongst them worked pretty hard, but they also saw Japan through the fun bubble years (late nights, drinking parties, hostess bars, money flowing like water, etc) and were happy to leave the running of their homes to their selfish, precious, designer-clad wives ... who went on the raise the current generation of spoilt work-shy brats.

    The entitlement complex of most young Japanese women just never ceases to astonish me. It goes like this: gradute from college with a useless and very expensive degree (paid for in full by parents), spend a few easy years flitting about in an office making copies and travel plans, marry a salaryman with earning potential, have a huge queen-for-a-day wedding, pop out a baby, treat the kid like an accessory and the hubbie like a cash machine, shove the kid into cram school and various extracurricular activities, spend most days hanging out with friends at cake shops and department stores, take annual shopping trips overseas, get nails and hair done every couple of weeks to impress the friends but never the husband, do the bare minimum of housework and childrearing, avoid all marital duties, avoid all responsibility, and generally live a life of leisure (thanks in part to regular cash infusions from the aforementioned baby-boomer parents). I can't wait to see what happens to those stupid women when the money dries up - as it inevitably will - and they are forced to go out to work as cleaners and nursing aides ... because that's all they'll be qualified for, after all those years of sitting around munching on cakes.

    Your husband (I'm assuming he's Japanese) must be extremely grateful to have a wife who really and truly appreciates his hard work, and is more than willing to pull her weight both at home and at work. I salute you.

  • -4

    Tessa

    You mean in real life, not a TV soap?

    Sorry, but you must not get out very much. I live in a residential area of a big city. I hear this very story (annoyed wife bashing husband for arriving home earlier than usual) so often, and straight from the horse's mouth. From both sides, both husband's and wife's.

  • -3

    Tessa

    Tessa and tmarie - you ladies are on a roll - as a man I agree with you completely on the legions of spoiled, lazy princess housewives out there...

    You're welcome. I hope that men are reading my posts with a sigh of relief, thinking "so I wasn't imagining it after all."

  • 1

    Betraythetrust!

    Looks like the women who cannot get a hardworking husband to look after them and the men unable or too lazy to financially keep a woman are the biggest moaners on here. LOL!

  • -2

    tmarie

    Well Cleo, may I suggest you teach a few housewife class then? You'll get loaded down with their complaints within the first two weeks or so of teaching them.

    Tessa, the grandparents are the ones that ruined this damn country so I guess they should be paying for a few things. I look at my FIL and pity him. He was one of those guys that stayed at the office all the time, never saw his kids and went on and on about how great his company was - until is started laying people off and stopped producing certain things. I feel like telling him HIS generation caused all the problems, the lack of innovation, the crazy work culture, the bullying... but I know he's freak and never get over it. I guess his beloved country getting taken to the cleaners by Korean companies is enough punishment for his ego.

    Tessa, he certainly has his gripes about helping out around the house but then when I say "Okay, let's play your parents. Give me your wallet, credit cards, I'm going shopping! I'll give you an allowance from here on it" he changes his tune. He also has a good laugh when some of his married friends bag on him about having married me when it comes to helping around the house but when it comes to drinking parties and other guys have to go home because they have no cash nor a cash card, he's got the last laugh - or should I say, I have the last laugh...

    And indeed not all J women are like this. My friends certainly aren't. I sure do feel sorry for the western guys though who married what they thought was this cute little girl whom they thought would cook and clean and have sex within when ever they wanted. Man, I work with some very bitter foreign guys when the lamb turned into the dragon lady.

  • 1

    cleo

    may I suggest you teach a few housewife class then?

    Been there, done that. The money earned wasn't worth the time expended. I heard maybe a couple of grumbles about husbands lying around the house at the weekend getting underfoot and requiring meals and endless cups of tea that for some reason they weren't able to brew for themselves, but men being severely scolded by their wives for coming home early? No, never. booted out of the home? Again, never.

    Bear in mind too the fact that what people tell you in an English lesson or even chatting over a slice of cake might be, to a large extent, 'reverse' bragging. People won't tell you how clever their kids are: they'll complain about the expense of juku. They won't brag about how much money hubby earns: they'll complain about what long hours he works. Complaining about him not working long hours occasionally is double-reverse bragging. And of course there's always the type who likes to exaggerate so that they can enjoy the sensei's reaction.

    I was fooled by this reverse bragging for a while. I had a few acquaintances who I felt really sorry for, since to hear them talk I imagined they had kids with severe learning disabilities; Taro needed remedial classes, Hanako had to have a special private tutor to help her cope with school lessons. I met the kids and was confused, because they seemed quite normal, bright even; then when they got into elite universities, I realised their mums had simply been reverse-bragging.

  • -2

    tmarie

    So I guess my salarymen who complained about their wife's spending habits were bragging? I guess the guys who told me they'd rather stay at the office than go home were bragging?! I guess my students who say that mom doesn't cook are bragging? Sorry Cleo but take a look around you and at the families in your neighborhoods. How many of them actually seem happy and spend quality time together.

    And yes, juku. Why do parents spend all that money on something they could easily do the selves or develop their kid's study habits? Oh right. Mom doesn't want to.

  • -3

    tmarie

    Will agree that housewife classes aren't worth it. Shame. All that money they for d they could easily feta degree at university with it. Such a waste if money and time. But I guess when you have all the time in the world and when you're not the one slagging away for it it's pretty easy to not care about the amount.

  • -4

    Tessa

    Man, I work with some very bitter foreign guys when the lamb turned into the dragon lady.

    Hoo boy do I ever know what you mean. And then they have the nerve to try and get my phone number!

  • 2

    cleo

    hidingout has a point.

    I guess my salarymen who complained about their wife's spending habits were bragging?

    I earn enough for my wife to stay at home and be a wastrel Oh yes.

    I guess the guys who told me they'd rather stay at the office than go home were bragging?!

    Well, if they have to stay at the office, moaning about it to you doesn't make them look good, does it? I do what I want

    I guess my students who say that mom doesn't cook are bragging?

    We can afford to eat lots of ready-made food Take that one with a large pinch of salt. Someone is buying all that fresh fruit and veg in the shops.

    take a look around you and at the families in your neighborhoods. How many of them actually seem happy

    Most of them....or at least no less happy than families elsewhere.

    and spend quality time together.

    There you've got me. Definitely not enough time.

    And yes, juku. Why do parents spend all that money on something they could easily do the selves or develop their kid's study habits?

    Because they don't believe they can do it themselves. The teachers at school tell them they can't do it, the juku tell them they can't do it, other parents tell them they can't do it. I did it for my kids, and friends and neighbours were worried and horrified - maybe the foreign lady didn't understand how difficult it was, or maybe she couldn't afford to send her kids to juku.

    Of course not all the moaning is reverse bragging. But you shouldn't take everything you are told at face value. Strangers aren't going to really lay bare their lives to you.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Cleo really, you think uni students and high school students are back door bragging about their moms not cooking?

    Any idea how many men are terrified they'll lose everything if their wives don't stop spending? Any idea how many folks have recently lost their homes because they can't afford them? You can think they're back door bragging. I'll think otherwise.

    As for juku, I think many of them are just lazy. Good for you for doing it yourself. I think people are nuts to go the juku route. Yes, uni students know of so much about English and the like... Really sad. I'm glad you didn't fall for it hook, line and sinker because so many here do it is sad.

  • 2

    cleo

    you think uni students and high school students are back door bragging about their moms not cooking?

    Not all of them, of course not. But a good number. You're listening to the kids. I'm shopping with the Mums and seeing what's going into the basket.

    Any idea how many men are terrified they'll lose everything if their wives don't stop spending?

    The majority of Japanese men have no idea how much or how little money they have - their wives hold the purse strings.

    Any idea how many folks have recently lost their homes because they can't afford them?

    Any idea how many of those are due to restructuring, falling incomes, unemployment and disappearing bonuses? Or are you going to insist it's all down to women eating cake and buying brand-name handbags that they can't afford? Really?

    As for juku, I think many of them are just lazy.

    I don't think people are lazy; I think most people just fall, as you say, hook, line and sinker for the propaganda put out by the jukus. People are afraid to do it themselves, because they don't have the confidence. While I'm darn sure no juku can produce a better English teacher than me. :-)

  • -6

    tmarie

    Cleo, I also shop with them moms and see the crap they put in their baskets. I also see Te crap they feed their new while out.

    Does it matter if its layouts, restructuring or whatever?! There are families out there losing everything because of as budgeting and men losing their jobs and wives not picking up the slack. The safety net and job for life is long gone. When will the princesses here acknowledge that? I'll sit sit and insist that those making less than 1.3 have zero rights to complain when it hits the fan as I've been paying their way. I know you won't disagree about that. I'm all for mat leave but women here lazy. And self entitled. And cost US millions be ayes they won't get off their behinds and have a care when they clearly can. Anytime sometime happens, they blame the schools and teachers. No responsibility. Which is eh Japan has the midst has know. Self entitled and mindless. That's it back four bragging its the shameful and shocking truth. You ever heard a mom brag their kids are useless?!

  • 2

    cleo

    wow, tmarie, I was just about to ask if maybe you'd been hitting the hard stuff...! (No problem if you have, it is Friday night....)

    Obviously you shop with a different set of mums to the ones I shop with.

    And yes, I think there's a huge difference between 'We lost our home because of the sudden change in our circumstances due to the economy/unemployment' and 'We lost our home because Mum couldn't stop eating cakes and having English lessons'.

    Pass over the next bit cos I don't understand iPhonese....

    You ever heard a mom brag their kids are useless?!

    Didn't I describe how I thought some people had kids with learning problems because of the way the mums described them - and it turned out they were reverse-bragging about how clever they were? (No run-of-the-mill juku for our Junior, he's in a special high-level juku/has a private tutor)

  • -1

    Betraythetrust!

    Facts are those who are in control want us to be low paid workers in debt when leaving education and consumers from birth by needing childcare then kindegarten, then univerity that benefits only a few but causes debt. After that you must buy a house and car, credit is fine, and work hard for less pay by decade unless you are on of the top 5% when you will get richer.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Plenty of families in finical trouble and wives won't get off their butts. I know more than a few foreign men who make the same complaints. Fact is Japan has very able women refusing to step up and help out finically. Japan is in a world if trouble and is only getting worse. What will it take to get women being productive and contributing to their pensions and health care, let alone the family income?

    A few had as well so iPhone and some cava...

  • 1

    Betraythetrust!

    Wonder where all these jobs will come from that will make Japan "better". As we see in western countries that encourage working mums to be the norm, the salaries of the average worker has fallen in real terms. This is because the more in the workforce, the more competition for jobs which leads to lower salaries. It also leads to more part time jobs which are lower paid and with less benefits, So trying to force more women to work will in fact be to the detriment of family life, but will benefit corporations due to lower salaries but more consumers. Will also benefit the banks as more people get into debt as we have seen in the west when these policies have been implemented.

  • -4

    tmarie

    There are needs in child care. How about we start there? And don't dare try and blame working women for work shortage. Societies where women work and are paid well have a better unemployment rate than nations who expect women to stay at home.

  • 0

    Betraythetrust!

    @tmarie You take things too personally and refuse to ever view things from another perspective which is very sad.

    I do not know any societies in the first world where women are expected to stay at home, please name any? So you claim that societies where women are paid well have a better unemployment rate? Also any evidence and what do you mean by well paid?

  • -3

    Tessa

    Met up with some former students yesterday for a bonenkai. One of them is a qualified pharmacist who worked for several years at a leading university hospital, before marrying and quitting her job last year. Another is a qualified English instructor, who also quit work upon marriage. *Neither of them have plans to ever return to work. * Nor are they are planning to have children, either. Pharmacist lady breezily admitted that she had gotten lazy. Teacher lady said that she briefly considered working part-time, but decided against it because the hours interfere with her hobbies and travel plans.

    I don't think these women are unusual for Japan, rather they seem typical. All that money and talent down the drain. Sometimes I wonder why people bother educating their daughters, I really do.

  • 0

    Jessica Marie Sato

    I am Canadian and my husband is Japanese. FOr a while we were planning to settle here in Japan (albeit in the countryside because we prefer open spaces). But alas there are no jobs, even for the self sufficient its a terribly lonely existence without anyone nearby). Then we looked at close to the city. The houses are too expensive for our salaries. We wanted to start a family, but we can't support them on what we make, because I would have to take time off in the early year/years of my babies life. So, we did the only thing we could. I applied for a working visa for my husband for Canada. We purchased a house in the countryside, close enough to a town where jobs were available. Japan just isn't offering the lifestyle we want for our children. Certainly by 2030, the family life people imagine won't exist. Sadly, we have to leave.

  • -6

    tmarie

    **@tmarie You take things too personally and refuse to ever view things from another perspective which is very sad.

    I do not know any societies in the first world where women are expected to stay at home, please name any? So you claim that societies where women are paid well have a better unemployment rate? Also any evidence and what do you mean by well paid?**

    I am more than happy to look at things from someone's view - where is anyone actually posting their own view about it? No one. Not one SAHM on here has posted about their choice to SAH.

    My point exactly with the exception of Japan. If you tihnk women aren't "expected" to stay home after marriage, I'm not sure what to tell you. A living wage is well paid. Women here are not paid a living wage by any means. Under 1.3 a month isn't going to pay for food and rent let alone look after kids. Plenty of info out there that states women who are are working outside of the home and paid a living wage have a higher rate of education, better health care... All that pretty much speaks for itself, no? You might be interested in this. http://www.unpac.ca/economy/paidwork.html Or this one. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEFGenderGapReport_2012.pdf

  • 0

    Betraythetrust!

    @tmarie Women are not expected to stay at home in Japan, they choose to and expect the husband to be the sole provider. They take charge of the household finances, most have hobbies and interests in the local area which they are involved in voluntarily. They don't have daily commutes, stress of work etc. I would say they are the ones who are empowered in a way that western women are no longer especially since 70s and 80s when women were "expected" to work.

    Your first link from the unbiased "UNPAC" is a group of womens lib "wimmin" going on about nothing to do with this subject or what i asked. It is far too biased to used and has no relevance to Japan.

    The second is by the World Economic Forum which is one of the problems. They are part of the problem of pushing the agenda of the elite of full employment and every human on earth being a consumer from birth until death. Some of the people involved mean well especially with 3rd countries.

    Women should have the same rights as men and equality in the workplace. Sadly, with modernization of the workplaces there are fewer full time jobs than in the past and globalisation has forced wages down worldwide for most professions, There are only a small amount of highly paid jobs that can be filled, trying to get more into higher education whether male or female is also a scam by the elite to have people in debt as soon as they are in the workplace. These are facts which are used to practically enslave people in modern society whether male or female. We need less work and live our lives with less luxuries like iphones,, designer clobber etc.

    They want more in the workplace to have more consumers and raise GDP not for the benefit of the masses.

  • -7

    tmarie

    You don't think women quit their jobs here once they get married or have kids because they aren't expected to? Oh dear. Why then do you think over 70% of women quit their jobs once married or have kids?! If it isn't the expectation then why does it happen? You've got to be kidding me with is.

  • 1

    Betraythetrust!

    @tmarie

    You have posted many times with contempt about Japanese women getting married, enjoying going to cafes in the day, going abroad on their own etc. Maybe this is because they have no need to work, their husbands and family do not demand thy stay at home, they prefer it to the rat race. This is Japan not the west where women feel forced to work or feel unworthy for staying at home. These women are empowered, they control the household in all aspects. This is not true for all families but most in Japan and i like it.

    • Moderator

      All readers back on topic please. Please focus your comments on what is in the story and do not bicker with one another.

  • 2

    cleo

    Why then do you think over 70% of women quit their jobs once married or have kids?!

    The percentage of women who quit on marriage is around 30%. High and seems a bit of a waste I grant you, but it's their choice and if they didn't expect a free pension, free health insurance and tax breaks for hubby, it wouldn't bother me in the least.http://www.garbagenews.net/archives/1313660.html (According to the graph, most of those who quit are in crappy, dead-end temp jobs anyway - they're hardly throwing away a lucrative career). Add in the fact that these days some 25% of marriages have a pregnant bride, and the percentage of women who quit just because they marry drops even lower.

    I would imagine most women who quit their jobs (or take extended maternity leave) when they have kids do so because they want to give their kid(s) their full attention. No problem at all with that.

    • Moderator

      Back on topic please.

  • -5

    tmarie

    Cleo, and why are they in crappy deadens jobs? Because they're expected to quit. And I wouldn't care either IF they I wasn't supporting them. But I am which is why I think I have every right to not be supportive of the current system. They can go to cafes and do as they like when my tax money isn't giving them a pension.

    Betray, did you read the article? Men in Japan can't support these women which is why people aren't get married and having kids. Women aren't liberated here at all. If they were they'd have a choice between a high flying career or being a housewife. Don't forget that this also affects the men here. The more freedom and support to work women have, the better the working conditions are for men. Not to mention for families. Single moms and their kids have it hellish here because of the expectation that moms will not work. Sadly though, that isn't the case for some.

  • -1

    Betraythetrust!

    @tmarie

    Where do these high paying jobs come from?

    You are taking out your frustrations on innocent people again, you do not like the current system, that is down to laws not housewives.

  • 1

    midnull

    If people still are set on the idea that men provide and women nurture...than yes. Japan doesn't give people enough wiggle room for both men and women to work comfortably and still support a family. So the stress of work is dropped on the man's shoulders. Japan did this to themselves. Why not alleviate some of that stress and give women more rights...and not degrade them. For instance, not stigmatize a middle aged woman for wanting to have a career...and not stigmatize a middle aged man for wanting to be a househusband.

    Japan it’s kinda hard to want keep old school traditions while at the same time wanting to be the top of anything modern…see the conflict? Pick. Get stuck in the past or move on.

  • 1

    midnull

    It's the women's fault? How so? If it's the men that drove the country and had all the rights for centuries? It's the men that wanted the women to stay at home and do nothing...now after centuries of that they want change and blame women? Reap what you sow. Change doesnt' happen suddenatly over night, it's a gradual process...

  • -1

    Betraythetrust!

    Midnull; The people saying it is the fault of the women are not men but foreign women and some foreign men. Japan does not want to or need to change in this way. Family life is important in Japan, kids are brought up better by their mothers on average than in the West where both parents work and the child is left with paid care.

  • -4

    Tessa

    Kids are brought up better by their mothers on average than in the West where both parents work and the child is left with paid care.

    I beg to differ. From what I've noticed, many kids in japan are brought up with only one parent working full-time. The other parent stays at home, and yet the children are still left in a kind of paid care during waking hours, usually in the form of public schooling (which my taxes are helping to pay for, oh joy!) and cram school (which is usually paid for out of their hard-working fathers' rapidly dwindling salaries). So-called "full-time mothers" seem to do the bare minimum of childrearing, unless you count showing up for occasional PTA meetings and sports meets, finding creative ways to cut cocktail sausages into octopus shapes, and sitting around exchanging nail care tips with their mama-friends at coffee shops as "childrearing."

    Why don't you try a little experiment. Ask a few grade-schoolers what they were fed for breakfast this morning. The answers may surprise you.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Japan does not want to or need to change in this way.

    Again, did you read the article???

    Tessa, well said. Funny, SAHM sending their kids to... kindergarten where others look after them.... Then odd to schools where... others look after them.

  • 1

    cleo

    That's right, if Mum's at home she should cook every meal from scratch using veggies she grew herself and meat from cattle she raised and slaughtered herself, make clothes for all the family from cloth woven at home from cotton grown on the balcony, fulfil every emotional and intellectual need of her kids so that they don't have to associate or play with other kids or learn any social skills whatsoever, and educate them at home up to phd level.

    Sheesh.

  • -2

    Betraythetrust!

    @tmarie. This article is opinion and not facts.

  • -3

    tmarie

    Cleo, Betray brought up both parents working and paying someone to care for their kid. This is EXACTLY what SAHM do when they send their kids to kindy. You can be snide, you can be condescending but at the end of the day, kiddy isn't home with mom and someone else is being paid to look after said child. If women here want to use the "I want to stay home and be with my kids" than perhaps that is what they should do.

    Betray, indeed it is and I;m voicing my opinion - which you seem to have an issue with.

    Cleo, I'd also like you to back up claims that only 30% of women quit their jobs. 70% is what is written in all the articles and research I've read. Heck, a link from JT on the topic. http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/helping-women-get-back-into-the-workplace

  • -3

    tmarie

    And another http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/LH19Dh01.html

    Oh look! Another! http://web-japan.org/trends/lifestyle/lif070109_02.html

    And another... http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/11/14/japanese-women-quit-unrewarding-careers/

  • 0

    tmarie

    Thumbs down for supplying links that back up what I've said?? Nice.

  • 1

    cleo

    I'd also like you to back up claims that only 30% of women quit their jobs.

    It's there in the link I gave earlier - results of a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and published in March 2010. If you don't read Japanese, the first graph shows the percentage of women who quit/continue working after marriage; from the top, total number surveyed, those in regular employment, those in irregular employment; dark blue shows those still in the same job, light blue shows those who have changed jobs, red shows those who left their jobs, grey shows no clear answer.

    Your first link gives no references for where it gets its figure of 70%.

    Your second link clearly states that two decades ago more than 70% of Japanese women quit work after the birth of their first child. Not on getting married, even 20 years ago.

    Your third link says that almost 70% of women reportedly quit their jobs when they have a child. Again, no references.

    Your fourth link references a new study from the Center from Work-Life Policy, a New York-based think tank, which sounds reliable enough; but their figures are for Japanese women with degrees who voluntarily quit their jobs, and it goes on about how women want to get back to work after taking time off for child rearing and are unable to find suitable jobs, **not*: that they're all just sitting around eating cake after pushing Junior off to kindy.

    Your links do not back up what you've said.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Oh right, research done by the Japanese government. Sorry, you'll have to excuse me for not believing it - right up there with their unemployment rates and car accident death rates. Cleo, your links don't back up what you claim either then.

    I also said marriage/kids. Either/or. So you want to single out one article because it isn't worded exactly as you wish? I didn't say many of these women don't want to go back to work - I'm sure they get bored and these hobby jobs help kill the time they have when Jr is at school, club and juku. Oh there's that "expecting people to raise their kids" that someone on here mentioned before...

    If you'll take the Center from work you can take which is pretty much the same article but a bit more indepth with %s and the like. Rejoining isn't the issue. Quitting is. IF they didn't quit, they'd have a better chance at a career. But they do quit. And then sent their kids off to kindy when they could be working. Many companies and schools now offer better mat leave which many women here aren't taking advantage off. Just like the men aren't taking advantage of pat leave - but why would they when the wife has quit her job and will stay home and the men don't want to risk promotion issues.

    Will you take the word of a Japanese researcher from Sophia? Probably not but here's my last attempt. Interesting article that talks about WHY women quit - pressure from others to quit. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-01/japan-s-devil-wife-leads-motherhood-work-balance-tussle.html http://ideas.time.com/2011/12/11/japans-working-woman-problem/

  • 1

    cleo

    Oh right, research done by the Japanese government. Sorry, you'll have to excuse me for not believing it

    Ok, if fluff pieces with 20-year-old figures are what you find convincing, fine.

    I also said marriage/kids. Either/or.

    And I pointed out that they're not the same; roughly 30% quit on marriage, most of whom are likely pregnant; and there are very, very good reasons for a woman to want to be with her baby.

    sent their kids off to kindy when they could be working.

    You do know kindy sends the kids back home around 2pm? You expect women to be whizzing off to the office (probably an hour away by train) after dropping junior off at kindy at 9, and whizzing back again by just after lunch? What makes you think they could be working except in local, minimum-wage dead-end jobs? That's the career you're afraid they're throwing away?

    I'm all for women who want to work being able to work without being made to feel guilty for being an oniyome. I'm also for women who want to look after their children being allowed to do so without being made to feel guilty for being just a housewife.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Fluff pieces that agree with a prof from Sophia with recent figures? Come on Cleo, you're better than this.

    Indeed they aren't the same thing but at the end of the day, women QUIT their job. Get it? Get how that works? It doesn't matter WHAT the reason is, what matters is that they are not working, not making an money and are taking money from OUR taxes to support THEIR pension.

    Well aware of the hours Cleo - also well aware that there are after kindy programs that working mothers use.

    I certainly don't agree with the oniyome thing but who gave her this label? I highly doubt it was the men around here - they're too busy working to have time to come up with such crap. By all means if women want to stay home and be a housewife, more power to them. I just don't think I should have to pay for THEIR choices. This is my issue. Not that they sit home but that they sit home and collect money in the future to things they or their spouses don't pay into like they should. You keep missing that point.

  • -2

    Tessa

    That's right, if Mum's at home she should cook every meal from scratch using veggies she grew herself and meat from cattle she raised and slaughtered herself, make clothes for all the family from cloth woven at home from cotton grown on the balcony.

    Now, I'm not saying that a full-time mother should do any of those things. But the least she can do is send her kids/husband out to face the world (in a way she herself would never be expected to) with a proper breakfast. I mean, come on, a supermarket pastry and a small pot of yoghurt? Believe me, I've asked around. I know. Not one grade schooler of my acquaintance gets a traditional Japanese breakfast. Some of them don't get any breakfast at all. And those are the middle-class kids. Most of their mothers are doing the bare minimum that they can get away with in terms of housekeeping and childraising. The rest of their time is spent at their leisure, hanging out at coffee shops, faux-French restaurants, and nail salons. They don't pay taxes, they don't raise their own kids or take care of their elders, and they don't contribute much to society at all.

    I wouldn't mind normally, except that they blatantly abuse the system, relying upon it for free education, free healthcare, free or heavily subsidised public facilities, and basically a free ride through life ... and then they have the nerve to complain about pension cuts? Unbelievable. Women like that should be forced, yes forced, upon retirement age, to go out and work to justify their existences. Heck, they can change my diapers for all I care. That's all they'll be qualified for anyway.

  • 1

    Betraythetrust!

    @tessa utter BS. My wife makes breakfast everyday, either Japanese style or English.

    So much hatred or Japanese women who choose to stay at home, how wicked of them to use state education for their kids. There is a strange resentment towards women who are not harming anyone. I on't know any locl housewifes who do not spend a good few hours a day cooking and cleaning. The problems that Japan faces are down to men and their laws.

  • -1

    Tessa

    I don't know any local housewifes who do not spend a good few hours a day cooking and cleaning.

    I don't know where you live, but it's obviously not in a city (where the majority of Japanese citizens now live). Thanks to the advent of labour-saving devices, such as microwave ovens, fully automatic washing machines, clothes drying machines, vacuum cleaners, and online shopping services, not to mention the plethora of pre-packaged, pre-cooked frozen or freeze-dried foods available in most supermarkets, the average housewife is rarely required to spend more than a couple of hours a day on housekeeping and cooking. The rest of the time is hers, and hers alone. And so is the majority of the money that her husband earns.

  • 0

    Betraythetrust!

    @tessa, how did you guess i come from the sticks? One day labour saving devices and ready meals will be available to women outside of cities! Women will have more spare time, oh noI

  • 0

    Tessa

    Look, try another little experiment. Ask a group of middle-class housewives how they feel about allowing mass immigration into Japan from developing nations to solve the labour shortage. I guarantee that even the most diplomatic and liberal-minded of them will find it hard to hide their distaste at the idea.

    Then ask them if they would consider becoming home helpers or nursing home workers themselves in order to help fill the gap.

    You'll be able to hear a pin drop in the ensuing silence, I assure you.

  • 2

    cleo

    Fluff pieces that agree with a prof from Sophia with recent figures? Come on Cleo, you're better than this.

    The links you give to articles that state 'facts' with no backup are just fluff pieces. There's no meat in them. All the Sophia prof says is that 70% quit when they have children, which seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Comparing what happens in Japan with what happens in America, and reaching the conclusion that japan must have it wrong because Japan isn't America, is flawed thinking. The prof mentions limited daycare facilities, peer pressure and job inflexibility as reasons Japanese mothers choose to stay at home; how about considering the reasons American/Western/Whereveryoulike mothers don't stay at home? How about with divorce figures through the roof a woman can never be sure she isn't going to end up needing to support herself and her kids and so can never afford to quit her job, even if at the moment she's in a seemingly stable relationship? Seen in that light, the choice between career and babies seems a bit different.

    I just don't think I should have to pay for THEIR choices. This is my issue. Not that they sit home but that they sit home and collect money in the future to things they or their spouses don't pay into like they should. You keep missing that point.

    I don't miss that point at all, in fact I've expressed the same opinion myself umpteen times. The free pensions, health insurance and tax breaks should stop. But when you make that point, it tends to get lost in your complaints about them sending their kids to kindy.

    the plethora of pre-packaged, pre-cooked frozen or freeze-dried foods available in most supermarkets,

    Like Betraythetrust I live in the sticks, and while it may shock you to learn that we do have all those labour-saving devices and even the electricity to run them off, all the supermarkets here, not to mention the conbinis, have huge fresh fruit and veg sections. Yes they have a few freezer cases with rather sad-looking 'ready meals' in them, and obviously some folk are buying those coz otherwise the shops wouldn't be wasting money stocking and running them. But the fresh food sections are way, way bigger, and by the same token, the shops aren't going to be buying in all that fresh produce just to let it rot. Someone is buying it.

    I don't recognise the Japan you live in.

  • -4

    tmarie

    I've also said nothing about the US, have never lived there and certainly wouldn't think the US is better than Japan. Different, some better things, some worse. No idea where you grabbed that from.

  • -1

    Tessa

    I don't recognise the Japan you live in.

    I don't mind if you don't recognise it, just as long as you recognise the fact that Japan is a highly urbanised society. Therefore the Japan that I inhabit is probably a far better representation of modern-day Japanese life than the Japan that you inhabit.

  • -1

    Tessa

    The only help we get from welfare is the rehab for her mother. Precisely my point. If more Japanese women pulled their weight, then she'd get more support in the form of carers and home helpers.

  • -1

    Betraythetrust!

    @Tessa

    My wife is a registered care assistant in Japan which was her full time employment before staying at home. She saves the country a massive amount in welfare by being there for her parents yet she is condemned and judge poorly by feminists from the west on here who i can tell you now put in a lot less hours than she does and then moan if she goes to a cafe with her friends for lunch during weekday working hours.

  • 2

    CarbonLayup

    ^Yeah, while I do agree with a lot of the stuff that has been discussed on here, I am very close to a Japanese woman who has recently retrained as a care assistant, and I resent the comments which claim care work to be a last resort for the lowest skilled in society. The woman I know worked very hard to retrain, and puts absolutely everything she has into her job. So back off with those kind of comments; they are out of order.

  • 0

    cleo

    I've also said nothing about the US.....No idea where you grabbed that from.

    From the link you posted. You made a point of referring to the article with the Sophia prof, which makes a comparison with the US. I assumed you agreed with what it said.....

    Japan is a highly urbanised society. Therefore the Japan that I inhabit is probably a far better representation of modern-day Japanese life than the Japan that you inhabit.

    The population in urban conglomerates of more than 1 million is 49% of the total population. The urban population as a whole accounts for 66.5% of the total - and includes small, semi-rural towns like the one I live in. The rural population accounts for 33.5%. Which means that the population outside the big cities is 51% of the total. My Japan in terms of the number of people who live it is actually a tiny bit (1%) more of a true representation of modern Japan than yours is, but let's not be petty - they're equally valid. Neither is in any way a far better representation.

    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/japan/urban-population-wb-data.html

  • 0

    Tessa

    @Cleo

    ... small, semi-rural towns like the one I live in.

    Well, no wonder you don't recognise my Japan. I live in a large, totally urbanised city. The first and last time I ever saw a rice paddy was when I fell asleep on the train and ended up in some ghastly backwater in Nara. Your statistics don't give a breakdown of the number of young, middle-class nuclear families living in rural areas in Japan (very few, I would imagine). These are the people upon whose very future Japan depends, and the very people who are least likely to pull their weight, especially the spoiled and lazy womenfolk. They disappoint me greatly.

  • 0

    Betraythetrust!

    @tessa

    No doubt Cleo and myself actually know a lot more abour rural and city Japsn thsn you do, myself i do anyway from reading your posts and i did live in a city for a long time. More and more families with small kids are moving to rural areas . In my town there are special areas where you can buy land for peanuts if you are a couple under 45. This is to encourage more children and it is working. It is best not to speculate on things and just post what you know, esecially not hearsay.

    "ghastly backwater in Nara" say no more. People call those places home.

  • 1

    cleo

    Maybe the people who live in that 'ghastly backwater in Nara' enjoy living there and actually like their neighbours. From what you write of your life in your 'large, totally urbanised city' you don't seem too impressed with where you are or the people you meet. I'm not quite surrounded by paddy fields, but I see plenty of them when I take the dog out, go shopping, etc. Plus fields of cabbages, broccoli, negi, soy beans, barley, you name it there's probably a field of it somewhere round here. I love it. Now and again we go to visit the MiL in Tokyo, which to me is a ghastly ferro-concrete jungle - you couldn't pay me to live there. (She in turn loves the big city, thinks we live in a 'ghastly backwater in Tochigi' - and every time she visits us she stocks up on fresh fruit and veg at the local JA).

    Your statistics don't give a breakdown of the number of young, middle-class nuclear families living in rural areas in Japan (very few, I would imagine).

    Why imagine? You already imagined that big-city Japan is far more representative of Japan than the rest of the country, and got it wrong; why not try looking for a few facts and figures? And why assume that the future of the country depends upon urban middle-class families? You know that over 90% of Japanese consider themselves to be middle class?

  • -5

    tmarie

    Cleo, while perhaps you enjoy living in inaka, many others do no. Hence many folks leaving and the inaka pretty much being a retirement area for those done work. Young folks don't wants to farm anymore, they don't want to be stuck in a dying town with no jobs so... they move to a city.

    I certainly wasn't knocking health care workers. They do an amazing job for peanuts. They are however, for the most part, poorly trained and it is seen as a PT job for women who want to work PT and under that magical 1.3 so they don't have to contribute to taxes and pension.

    I'm all for moms and wives to stay home. When their husband's pay their health care, pension and taxes for them. If families can't afford it, wife needs to work.

    I was out for dinner last night who is married to a woman who quit her job the minute she became engaged. They had a baby five months ago. The poor guy on his way to the station picked up a nasty bread thing for breakfast because and I quote "my life doesn't do the shopping all that often". I was rather disgusted by it all. Though not surprised.

  • 1

    Betraythetrust!

    Tmarie

    Most care assistants and carers are better trained than in the west, they pay for themselves to qualify. We know a few around this area nd they do jot do "to make a mint" as some people say these days. Many do because they choose that career and many like my wife who do so they can give 24/7 care for their parents. Actually, they are paid about the same as those who come to Japan to teach English at private firms, poor wages yes, but not peanuts.

    Yet more hearsay put here as fact by the feminists, ie "my wife doesn't do the shopping very often", yawn.

  • 1

    cleo

    I didn't say anything about the US. Yes, included in the link but I didn't say anything

    Sorry, my bad. I assumed that when you provide a link to an opinion piece it's because you agree with what the piece says. Otherwise, why provide the link?

    we all know Japan (and many other countries) play with stats to make themselves look good.

    Since everyone seems to be dumping on Japan on account of the stats, how are those 'played with' stats supposed to make Japan look good in the eyes of detractors? As far as I can see, they don't give you the info you want to hear; so why assume they're doctored?

    while perhaps you enjoy living in inaka, many others do no.

    I know perfectly well the inaka isn't for everyone. I never claimed it was. I merely disputed Tessa's claim that big-city dwellers are far more representative of Japan than the rest of the country. They clearly are not, since they make up less than half of the population. (I also got a bit riled at the jibe about inaka being 'a ghastly backwater' - Ok, she doesn't like it, but to inaka dwellers her highly urbanised residence is equally if not more ghastly.)

  • -4

    tmarie

    Betray, I'd like you to give me some links to back up that claim. Indeed, some are well trained, many... not great. You think these women make the same as an English teacher? Classic. No one wants to do the job here so they are having women from other countries come and do it. I am shocked you would even suggest these women get a decent rate of pay considering the work they do. Many work for less than 1.3 a month so they can get their pension, taxes, health care paid for by their husband/tax payers. You might want to look into this a bit more.

    Cleo, providing a link doesn't mean I 100% agree with everything in said link. Poor argument on that one and I think you know that.

    Cleo, an example... Japan unemployed rate. Perhaps you might want to look into who they count as unemployed and how they come up with the numbers. Same for traffic deaths. Same for crime stats... I don't think I said anything about being doctored, did I? it's all how they collect the info. Basic research 101.

    I don't think Tessa was implying that. YOU are the one that made the comment to suggest that your Japan is THE Japan while Tessa merely pointed out that your Japan and her Japan are very different.

    Yet more hearsay put here as fact by the feminists, ie "my wife doesn't do the shopping very often", yawn.

    I'm sorry, is there an issue with women wanting to be treated equally and get the pay they deserve? Is there an issue with wanting a better life for men and women? And yawn to the foreign man who married a Japanese women who feels the need to continuously be nasty to foreign women whom he doesn't agree with...

  • 0

    Betraythetrust!

    @tmarie

    No need to provide links, look gor some ads for qualified carers and your regular English teacher for a foreign firm in Japan. People don't like oing the job which involves dealing with the elderly ue to the work NOT the pay. I did not say they get decentpay i said it is poor but not peanuts. I don't need to look into anything anymore than i do. I on't look down on people for their career choices and i do not stereotype a large part of Japanese ociety as lazy.

    Who has stated women should not be treated equally? Not me. You do Not want a better life for men and women, you want Japanese women to change to your way of thinking or you look down on them, and that is a fact. I am not nasty to anyone BTW.

  • 1

    cleo

    tmarie, I'm beginning to doubt your reading comprehension skills. Tessa said, and I quote, ' the Japan that I inhabit is probably a far better representation of modern-day Japanese life than the Japan that you inhabit'. She didn't imply it, she stated it. I pointed out that her Japan and mine are very different (I don't recognise the Japan you live in) and added figures showing that the rural and urban populations are split roughly down the middle, meaning that neither group is a more valid representation of Japan.

    Where did I make a comment suggesting that my Japan was THE Japan? (I do think My Japan rocks)

  • -4

    tmarie

    Betray, you can't provide them because any links with regards to caregiver pay would prove you wrong. You think 30 hours a week for less than 1.3 million isn't peanuts? I guess we certainly view things differently. Certainly not a living wage. I am also not looking down on anyone who does the job so perhaps get the chip of your shoulder?

    I want Japanese women to be able to earn a fair and livable wage. At the moment, most Japanese women are paid far less than they are worth. Keep thinking I want something different for them. I want them to be able to look after their kids and support themselves if they ever half to. Shame you can't see that.

    Cleo, "Modern day Japanese life". Do you think those babas in inaka are an indication of modern day life? I know I certainly don't.

  • 1

    cleo

    "Modern day Japanese life". Do you think those babas in inaka are an indication of modern day life? I know I certainly don't.

    Well that's your prerogative of course. But those 'babas' (us babas??) are just as alive and part of Japan today, here and now in the middle of December 2012, as any of the cake-eating sahms in the city who you so despise.

  • -2

    Tessa

    You already imagined that big-city Japan is far more representative of Japan than the rest of the country, and got it wrong; why not try looking for a few facts and figures?

    Ah, if only I had the time! Unfortunately I don't, because I'm too busy going out to work, and paying various taxes. Perhaps you could do me the favour of finding out the real tax burden of urban vs. rural dweller. For example, I already know that my city taxes are high (and I don't especially mind paying them for the convenience of not having to drive everywhere and/or marry a blood relative) but am I paying disproportionately higher national taxes to support a few useless rice farmers? Do tell.

  • -3

    tmarie

    I wouldn't despise them if they contributed to the pension, health care and tax system. Until then, yep, I dislike the SAHW - not a mother thing at all.

    I also wouldn't say as alive but anyway...

  • -2

    Tessa

    They are however, for the most part, poorly trained and it is seen as a PT job for women who want to work PT and under that magical 1.3 so they don't have to contribute to taxes and pension.

    tmarie you've done it again. I totally agree with you. I work with many people, and on an average working day I get to hear so many stories from so many women, and I can tell you that most of the nursing care workers in my city are very poorly trained indeed (and don't think for a moment that it's their own fault, because it's not. It's the fault of local government policies, and the predatory businesses that they outsource to). In many cases, the training is very poorly done. Some unsuspecting housewives show up for an official "training session" only to discover that it is in fact their first day on the job, and they are expected to bathe patients and change their nappies from the get-go.

    As for the nay-sayers, I'd like to ask you: how many Japanese women do you interact with on a daily basis? Today I spoke with 10 Japanese women, mainly about very private matters. Today was a slow day. In an average working week I speak with around 60 women of all ages. How about you?

  • -4

    tmarie

    Agree Tessa. Not their fault their crappy dispatch company didn't train them well. It's funny that Betray thinks they are well trained and paid um, not peanuts when the fact is, Japan is outsourcing this line of work, having to bring in foreigners and well, still a shortage. But hey, what do I know? Its only been in the news and such for the past few years....

    And good point about the taxes with regards to city and inaka.

  • 0

    cleo

    if only I had the time! Unfortunately I don't, because I'm too busy going out to work, and paying various taxes. Perhaps you could do me the favour of finding out the real tax burden of urban vs. rural dweller.

    You're not the only one working and paying taxes. Maybe you could look up your own figures, or at least refrain from making comments that prove you don't have any figures.

    For example, I already know that my city taxes are high

    Hey, my town/prefecture taxes are high. So what's the difference? Please, if you're trying to suggest that people in the cities pay higher taxes than in the countryside, please produce figures. Without looking anything up, I can tell you that juuminzei is standard all over the country; kokumin kenko hokenzei is cheaper in the big cities (more young, healthy people paying in and not taking out) while property taxes are higher (less land to go around).

    I don't especially mind paying them for the convenience of not having to drive everywhere and/or marry a blood relative

    People in Japan don't have a culture of marrying their blood relatives on account of living in the countryside, and you lower the level of discussion by even suggesting it. You must be thinking of somewhere else.

    good point about the taxes with regards to city and inaka.

    What point? She didn't make any point.

  • 0

    Betraythetrust!

    Anyone going into training to be a care worker is paying for the training and is not being trained by an employer. If anyone employs an untrained carer they are breaking the law.

    The reason that Japan needs to outsource carers is the fact that young people do not want to do that work, they would prefer to work for less in Lawson or McDonalds. Being a carer can be an unpleasent job and it a poorly paid job in almost all countries regardless of the sex of the carer.

    Any evidence that carer is a job seen as part time so the workers don't have to pay taxes? Thought not.

    No point people coming here saying they want women to be equal etc when they look down on the women in this country. Reminds me a bit of the missionaries going abroad and looking down on others ways and forcing them to change. The people that seem to want that change do not seem happy and are always complaining about Japanese women and putting them down. I find it all rather unpleasant.

  • 0

    Tessa

    No point people coming here saying they want women to be equal etc when they look down on the women in this country.

    I don't mind what anybody does in this country. I just don't want them to do it on my dime.

    If anyone employs an untrained carer they are breaking the law.

    And we all know how little that happens in Japan, right?

  • -1

    Betraythetrust!

    @ Tessa

    You have proof that happens in the care industry? You should be carefull what you post as these jobs cannot be given without certification, please stop presuming things and speculating.

    Nobody is doing anything illegal from the taxes you pay. I also pay taxes and lots of things are done that may annoy me but i will not pick on and look down on people living in a manner within the law.

  • -2

    Tessa

    Nobody is doing anything illegal from the taxes you pay.

    Okay, thanks for the smile!

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