Japanese Women, Parenting, and Family Life

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Japanese women have often been described as strongly committed to the role of housewife and mother. But many of these "good wives and wise mothers" are now postponing marriage and bearing fewer children than ever before. To better understand this phenomenon, this article explores Japanese women's perspectives and experiences of marriage, parenting, and family life. Findings from the author's recent longitudinal study suggest that women are more satisfied with their family life if they have realistic expectations for their own behavior, are supported by their husbands, and have the opportunity to engage in meaningful employment. These results suggest a need for changes in the structure of the workplace and the education system to provide women with the opportunity to find a fulfilling balance of work and family life.

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This book takes an interdisciplinary approach to one of Japan's thorniest public policy issues: why are women increasingly forgoing motherhood? At the heart of the matter lies a paradox: although the overall trend among rich countries is for fertility to decrease as female labor participation increases, gender-friendly countries resist the trend. Conversely, gender-unfriendly countries have lower fertility rates than they would have if they changed their labor markets to encourage the hiring of women—and therein lies Japan's problem. The authors argue that the combination of an inhospitable labor market for women and insufficient support for childcare pushes women toward working harder to promote their careers, to the detriment of childbearing. Controversial and enlightening, this book provides policy recommendations for solving not just Japan's fertility issue but those of other modern democracies facing a similar crisis.
Social drinking is an accepted aspect of working life in Japan, and women are left to manage their drunken husbands when the men return home, restoring them to sobriety for the next day of work. In attempting to cope with their husbands' alcoholism, the women face a profound cultural dilemma: when does the nurturing behavior expected of a good wife and mother become part of a pattern of behavior that is actually destructive? How does the celebration of nurturance and dependency mask the exploitative aspects not just of family life but also of public life in Japan? The Too-Good Wife follows the experiences of a group of middle-class women in Tokyo who participated in a weekly support meeting for families of substance abusers at a public mental-health clinic. Amy Borovoy deftly analyzes the dilemmas of being female in modern Japan and the grace with which women struggle within a system that supports wives and mothers but thwarts their attempts to find fulfillment outside the family. The central concerns of the book reach beyond the problem of alcoholism to examine the women's own processes of self-reflection and criticism and the deeper fissures and asymmetries that undergird Japanese productivity and social order.
Japanese women and mothers have been very much interested and famous for the close tie with child and warm devoted love for child among many researches from cultural and developmental view points. Recent discussions on the construals of self have also evoked strong interest in interdependent relationships among Japanese which are typically reflected in mother-child relationships. However, recent drastic social changes in Japan including industrial structure, international status, population/demographic conditions have brought the striking impact upon the life and psychological states of Japanese women. In this paper, re-examinations will be made whether well-known characteristics of Japanese women/mothers still exist by presenting recent empirical data on parents'feeling on child/child-care, reasoning of having child, sex-role attitudes, the nature of self-esteem and so on. Discussions will be made concerning the conceptions and realities of women/mothers in socio-cultural contexts.
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