Why are Japanese women still so far behind?

My wife and I are presently caught in one of the major catch 22s, which is childcare. You can’t get your child into a houikuen (kind of daycare centre) until you both have full-time jobs, but you can’t get a full-time job until you have somewhere to put your child. That works better if you already had a job before you gave birth, but most companies will guilt trip you into quitting once you can’t do the ridiculous hours of overtime or if you actually plan on taking your maternity leave. When your child reaches three you can send them to a youchien (kindergarten), but you’ll have difficulty sustaining even a part-time job with their short hours, long holidays, PTA duties and expectation that you will be at home waiting every time they want to phone you to bring in an extra pair of shorts or take them home because they are crying.

Other factors include:

– Women not being able to take a full part in the drinking, golf and occasional whoring that Japanese corporate entertaining consists of

– Social pressure to quit as soon as you get married, and certainly within weeks of getting pregnant

– Very few women being recruited on the management track

– Women still being expected to wear uniforms, bring tea, etc

– Many women not wanting the slavish devotion to the company that they see from their men

– Polite female behaviour and language making it very difficult to do business

Nice quote on the last one:

“Talking seems especially futile when I have to address a man in Japanese. Every word I say forces me to be elaborately polite, indirect, submissive, and unassertive. There is no way I can sound   intelligent, clear-headed, or decisive. But if I did not speak in a ‘proper’ feminine language, I would sound stupid in another way – like someone who is uneducated, insensitive, and rude, and therefore cannot be taken seriously. I never speak Japanese with the Japanese man who teaches physics at the college where I teach English. We are colleagues, meant to be equals. The language I use should not automatically define me as second best.”

Polite Lies by Kyoko Mori pg 12

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Why are pregnant Japanese women so mollycoddled?

My wife wasn’t supposed to even cook for one month after giving birth. My theory was that the (hidden) reason was to save them from the traditional slavedriving of their mothers in law. One commenter on this great post on all the things that are banned for Japanese women who are expecting seems to agree.

Why do Japanese girls and boys turn out so different, despite having the same upbringing?

“Girls fare better;they tend to like intense one-to-one relationships. But boys crave independence.”

Hence, according to his explanation, maza con [マザコン-mother complex.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why does Japan have the world’s fastest aging population?

It’s a combination of the old people living for ever and the young people not doing their duty in the sprogs department. The first is due to getting almost everything you need for longevity- being married, keeping busy, close family ties, a healthy diet and an okay health service. The latter is a combination of the difficulties of getting married and having kids (expensive accommodation and education,difficulties in meeting people and hooking up) and an extreme version of a self-sacrificing generation spawning a self-indulgent one. Other factors include very low rates of pre-marital birth and unmarried couples, women who have babies still being expected to stop work, the difficulties of obtaining credit,and the even more risk averse younger generation not making a move without the increasingly rare permanent contract, mortgage and stack of savings.

Why are Japanese kids so well behaved?

Japanese mothers seem to control their kids with an absolutely expert use of the kind of emotional blackmail that a Western parent might feel embarrassed about, plus a good dollop of indulgence and other manipulations. The net total result is a kid who will feel so upset themselves at displeasing their parents (mainly the mother), that no other punishment is needed- a child that will often grow up into an adult with much the same mentality. Another reason you would rarely see temper tantrums etc. if you are not part of the family is that a Japanese child quickly learns that different behaviour is suitable for different circumstances, and there is no such thing as “acting naturally” or “being true to yourself”.

More on this question in this New York Times article