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Patterns of Japanese Families: Change and Continuity.

Perspectives in
Sccf,mH ScieEGCe
a compilation volume of
seminar papers
eentre for Advanced Research in Social Sciences
University of Dhaka
( ( ulrc tbr /\d\'llllccd Research in Social Scicucc
I ;n i\ crsiq ol Dhnka
( ( )l rNCI t,
( Iriril IrIirII
I'r oli ssol Dr. A A S M Arelin Siddique
\ r,, ( lrirnccllor
I lr\'( rsily o1' Dhaka
I'r rrli ssrrr Dr. Shafiqrre tz Zitfiialr
I r, l)irrtrrcnl of Ircol'lon)ics
1l r,rrr bcrs
l'r rrli ssor Dr. N'lrs. Nazma Be gum
I ), pirrlnrclrt of Economics
I'r rrltssot' Dr. N'td. Nurul Amin Bcpari
I L,l)iI lr]rcnl of Politicai Sciencc
l'r rrlcssor Rulisana Kibria
IJ,'Iir lllrcnt of Intetnatiotral Rclatiolls
l'r ole ssor Dr. A I Mahbub Uddin Ahmed
I ){ prrlnrcut ol Sociology
l'r olcssor N'lrs. Akhtar Sultana
I )rlullnrcrlt tlf Mass Colnnrtinication & Journalistr.t
lessor Dr. Musleh Uddin Ahmed
l ,rIirrlnrcnt of Ptrblic Administlation
toli'ssor Dr. ['ld. Saifur Rahshid
rnlad Billal Hossain
tc Professol, Departtnent ofl Population Sciences
i.ssor f)r. Md. Rafiqul Islam
of Pcace and Conflict Studies
ll aqu e
Associatc Prol'essot', Deparhnent of Wonren and Gender Studies
cssor Dr. Md. Reazul Haque
t of Developlnent Studies
Dr. A J M Shafiul Alam BhuiYan
of Television and Film Studies
PcrspcctiYes in Social Scicn cc
Publishcd 81,
Centre for Advanccd Researclt in Social Scienccs
Univelsiry of Dhaka
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.'()t) l)lr;rlil I inivcr.sily Markcl. Kll:rblrr, l)lraka
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Volume I I
Perspectives in Social Science
May 2015
Prof€ssor Dr. Shailque uz Zaman
Editorial Associate
Members Professor Dr Mrs. Nazma Begr:tr
Profcssor Dr'. Md. Nurul Amin Bcpirri
Profcssot Ruksana Kibria
Profe ssor Dr. A I Mahbub Uddin Ahmed
Professor Mrs. Akhtar Sultana
Professol Dr. Musleh Uddin Ahmcd
Professor Dr. Md. Saifur Rahshid
Professor Dr. Md. Rafiqul lslam
Profcssor Dr. Md. Reazul Haqttc
Professor Dr. A J M Shafiul Alatrl Bhuiyan
Tania Haque
Mohamtrad Billal Hossain
Centre forAdvance Research in Social Sciences
University of Dhaka
l'a(tcrns ol Jalllncsc liantilics : Changc arld Continr:it1' 1
S. M. Ali Rcza
AbdLrllah-A l-M amttn
' Ilangladcsh's I'l'occss of Dcnrocratization : A Rustolvian Vic\\' 17
Dr. Arun Ktttllar Goslvami
Evotutionary School ofThought in Cultural Anthropology : An Atralysis 3l
SumaiYa Ilabib
Pattcrlts of Japanese Farltilies : Change ancl Cclrltirluity
S. iVI. Ali Rcza"
Abd u lla h-AI-M ir nt u n""
A bstarct
TItis papet ainls to Iook into the P:lttc ls ol"lapatrcsc fittrlily' its changc ovcr
ti'tc tinte atld nlode oj-continuity..'lapallesc lanrily systenr has gonc throttgh ttrany
cltangcs ovct the tin1c. Ileibrc Worlcl War II Japancsc lhnlily systenr u'as callcd thc
ic sys"tem anct ic nlcans litrl1ily ol houseltold wherc colltinuity \vas the csscntial ltaturc
ofthc ic. l'hc affairs of thc ic u'cte tlrarlagccl by the Ilcad ancl he rvas sttllposcd to bc
given ltlivileges. Rclatiorls betwccll l)rclllbers \\'ere olgitnizctl hietarchically Wometr
iuere,,rde.piuilegcd arrd supposed to obey male nlenlbcts With thc intloduction ol'
tlre new constitltion in 1947, dcurocratic thuliiy systenr bascd on the cqual lights of
husbands atrd tt'ives *'as instigated. Inlrncdiate aftcr thc postwar pcriotl' ttany
tratlitional f,antilics hacl been fiagrrlcnted to onc housing unit per 1'aluily or onc roonl
pcr thntily. Eventually, rnany lllidtllc class trrban firmilics in 'laprn are tirnctioning as
families bLrt witho!ft the substance expected of thc traditional family tlnit. Even at
prescrlt, we can sQc "Week-end Families" artd "sunclay Sttangers Fatltily" 'lapanesc
family systcm is still changing and tacing a sctiotls ctisis' This paper trics to look
inlo thitl rlsl.cct as l\.cll.
I ntroduction
,fhc knowledgc ol. a socicty's lhmily system is esscntial to ttuderstand that society. It is {hc
lirmily vrhcr.e childrcll llu ure a picture o1'the rvorld anrl faulily llrcurbers arc trsually thc Iirst
pcopie they lcar.r to classily and the vray in which thcsc closc relations ar-e dellned varics
lrorr one society to anothet (Hendry, 2003, p 25.)'
ioclividual is consitiered to be the basic unit of the society. When thc dccisiorls of r.natriage
irrc n1ade, ttrc fanrilies ofthc borh parties investigate oue anothcr and each side makcs evety
possiblc effort to elhance it sorvn prestige. since it is considered tlatural for the adults to
,,,n.ry anci have childrcn, thc untuarricd nray be vicwed as not quite socially acceptable
.1.1c japancse society also assr,lles that growing up in a, intact household prolllotcs lraturc
il ,r, ,*rn_r, "r"r." a-rr"r r potilic.l sciencc. univcrsiry ot.Dh:rka. l,re.scntty . l,h.D ltcscarctrcr in osxk.
ti,rlrool ol l,ucrnali;.ul Ptiblic l']olicy (OSIPP)' Osaka Unive*ity undcr Japfncsc Co'er)nlcrrt ( MUXT) Schohrs6iP'
\.rlL,.rhl- (,,rnrncrrls on lhc c.rr Iicr (lr:rll ,r l'lh ii rlr rr(rscrifl'
I pcrspcctir cs jn Sociitl Scjcrrcr
chilractcr (icvclolllrrclll. In 1act. 1hc 1)rrnily conlinLrcs to plly a ccrrtral rolc in .lapalcse socicty
lotlay. IlLrt lris tlrniiy svsrelr is sonrclhing thal has bccn changcd a grcat clcal in the past 1'cu,
clecittlcs ll'otll onc lirtttr that wrs strictly ccntcrcd on Conlircli;rn Iau/ to onc rrorv bascci gn
wcslcrn dc.rocratic idcologics (lrvao. 199-3. p5). with thc Mci.ii Restoration in Ig6g a
nrctanrorphosis ol'.lapirucsc society rook placc that rvas thc begirning to changc nrary
aspccts ol'thc socicty inclLrdinu social contiucts and intcractions: notably thc strticture ol
Ihnrilics. Thc conlircian cotlc ol'etlrics. rvhich once was linritcd to thc Sanrurai CIass.
pcnetraled to all pcople of.laptn as thc distinctions betrvecr clzrsscs rvclc ofllcjally abolished
and Japarcse socicry as a rvholc becarre much urorc nralc-donrinated. what evol'ed as a
fanrily consisting ofa dominant Ihthcr, an inferior rnothcr ancl their.children rvhereas in tlre
pasl a corrPlc Lrsed to share mLrch eqLrality. For urany ycars, lhis era persistecl ancl Iittlc
changcd in rhc nrakcLrp of,rost families. They tcnded to be largc, cxtcnded lanrilies, housing
rnany lencrations and Drany b|anchcs of the family under. onc househoki. It was not until
the dcl'cat of .lapa, irr worid war lr that chauge was institrted whiclr was brouglrt upo* by
the introdLrction ola ncw constitution for Japan notably by thc united states. This docume,t
clcar'ly stipLrlatcd that "all ofthc people are cqual under the law "sonrething that changed
the u,ay.lapanesc pcople acted. lcarned, perceived, felt ancl lived. In ntany *oyr,ih.
sh..rcture ol'the.lapanese fanrily has changed d'ar,atically since that pivotal pi,.,t in liirto,y:
howe'cr in other rrore subtlc ways, it has herd on firmry to its tradiiions. Tiris paper ui,.,rs
to focus on lhis vcry changc and continuity of.lapanese lanr ily-pattcrns.
Thc /e and Traditional Japanesc Familics
The basis ofthc Japanese fa,ily systcn'r is thc 'ie'nreaning fa,ily or household. conti,uity
is an cssential lcatrre oflhe re. The individual nre,berc of a particular house occupy thl
roles o1'thc livi,g rrembers ofthat pa'ticular ie. It was thc lc as a unit that was ,"gurd.d o,
orvning any prope,ty in the traditional system but in the Mciji corre this pr.opcrty had to be
t'cgistercd in thc,a,re ofa particular individual. Menrbcrs wcre also cxpccted to maintain
the status of thci:' particular ie rvithi, the rvider. corrnrunity. The affairs of the le wcre
managcd by thc Head, althorgh certain tasks and responsibilities could be cleiegated to other
nrenrbcrs. 'l-hc Hcad rvas Iegally responsible for all the nrenrher.s, who were subordinated to
him (Sugimoto,2003, P 147-48, I52). Within the housc, the Head rvas supposed to be given
privilcgcs, like being served first at nreals and being allowetl to take the i'irst brth. o-n the
othcr hzrdn. relations bctween merrbcrs were organizcd hierarchically bascd on age, scx
and expcctatio, .f pcrmancncy i, the house. The rclations betwecn gcnerations were
characterizcd by Confucian principlcs of loyalty and bcnevolence. Wo',rc'r, who werc
supposcd to obey ,rale rnembers and a new bride to lrer nrotlrer-in-law as wcll, held a vcry
low status withi' thc family and werc expected to cater to the nceds of the men in ths
household. This meant preparing and serving ureals, clea'i,g the homc, and cari.g for the
childrcn. All ofthe customs thcse farrilies followed were seen as the,,beautiful tradition of
the family system" (kazoku seido not fifuu), antl were vcry highly rcspected and upheld
throughoLrt the society as a whole. They were given little or no econonric, political, or sexLral
f.eedoms ancl wcre "expectcd to bchave in conformity to thc nornrs ancl acccpted rules of
l'rtlcrns ol_.lrl)rrrcscljrtnrilics : Chlngc i:nd Continuily 9
socict)," iln(i wcre hcld to tlte stirndard illtrstrated in the old cxptcssittrr tyosrti kctrlro
rrrciui;g "the goocl rvil'e ancl $,ise D.rotirer" (hvao, 1993. P. l9). Ncxt, u'ottrctl wctc ltrttrtl'. rl
,lo$,n llont hcr. l'athcr to a husband alld then on to her sons in hcr old itge, as dictatctl lrv
('orrtircia:t Iau'. Relations wititin thc Irouse rvere detertritrecl lcss by lovc arrcl all'cctiorl llr rt
try rlLrly. ln cach gcl'tcr.ation, onc pctr.].rilrlcnt heit would bc chosctl. arld a spotlse rvortlti be
t,,ougl r in to shirre the role of contjnuing the fanrily linc (Hcndry' 2003' |'] 28) 1'hc
irsrrrancc o1'contilluity was lrlore important tlran the particttlat ncnns and all sorts of
itrrargellrerlts cotlld bc nradc to acconlplish this aim Nerv brides' oyorlre-san' rvcre brought
i'to tirc farlily ard claughlers rvere trranted away to be oyotne-sittt in othc:'hottseholds The
1illc of successor. atotori, was passed from falher generally to the first-born son as well as
tlrc fanrily colltil'tucd to grorv in tiris nranner. Occasionally, u4ren a sot'l \'vas not prescnt to
bc nalrci atotot'i, the eldest clau-qhter lvottld tlany a ma:r fioln another falrtily' and he would
cntcr as a nruko-yooshi, taking his uelv family's last nalrc and bcconring thc nrale rvho
rvould siand in lille to becorrc the heacl ofthe household upon his f'atheI-in-lar'v's passing'
ll'lhcrc were tlo children at all, a relative's child could be adoptcd. It rvas also pcln]issible,
i!- nccessaly, to adopt a totally unrelated child (Hendry, 2003' P 29-3 I )'
I'ost-War Rcform and the Emergence of Modern Family
'l hc traditional family system, based on tlle principle ofie, was tbrrnally abolished in 1947
rvith the introduction of the New constitution that prescribcd instead a tnore 'democratic
lirmily systern,based on the eqr.lal [ights ofhusbands and wives. TIris docttnrent mandated.
ur1,,,',g oth.r things, that both sexes be treated as equals and that tllere would be no
tliscr.irnination ofthe basis ofscx, Females were now not encouragcd to attend school along
rvith theil nrale classmates. On top ofthat ilrstead ofstaying hotne and earning for the farnily
cxclusively, diligently maintaining the "good wives and wise lnothers" doctrine, women
*cr" giuen mucir nroie freedonr to explore their own desires; consequently, the fonnation
ol'Jaia,ese fa,rilics was drastically altered. Tho,gh the transition of farnilies fro'r
trtditional to modern was slow, modern farnilies appeaI almost nothing like their ancestral
lunrilics or.r thc surfacel howcver sotle similarities remain, including a number oftraditions
ancl roles tlrat ar c dceply engrained into Japanese society evcn today (lwao' 1993 ' p' 20-24)'
ln thc iurrrcdiate postwar.period, nrany traditional fanrilies had been ft'agmented
ancl thcir rnain concern was to ensule the basics of food, clothing and shelter. Besides.
housiug was a nrajor problenr and the first goal was to acquire onc rool'11 per farnily' Over
tinrc this becarne one hor.rsing unit per fan.rily, approaching to onc room per person'
IIowever, this goal has not been reached mainly because of the high cost of housing. [n
rcality securing suitable housing is a major difficulty for tlre contenrporary Japanese
lhmilies. In addition to changes in husing, modem Japalese fanrilics are influe,ced by the
cntirc range ofsocioecouomic clranges in Japan and has adapted to those changes (lmamura'
lgg0, p. 8-9). With a view to understanding today's families we should look at some of the
rur:rjor ,steps in that adoption process in accoldance to their types' As per sonre sociologists
Jaliancse fhmily systcln has two apparently contradictot'y tendencies: the vitality and
incroasing stability of family systelrr in comparison with its coLllrterparts in othel
inciristrjalizccl coLtntrics and tlrc 'disintcration oflir,,rily'anrl thc 'luc ol l.irrnily-lcss lamilics.,
'fhcy sr:gucst t'ar Japanesc fhnr iry.-systenr is.ndcr'-uoiu; " ii,ra,,lr,."r,rr changc arcl lacirg
a scriousc[isis rn hcr, nlar]v nritrcfie crass u,1ran f,r,riril's i,,.iu1i,,,, run.tion as tzirrilics bLrt
\'vitholrr thc substance cxpectcd of the traditioral fr,,,it,.;;,;i.'i;,rosr cilses rhc husbarcr
rvo.ks ovcrti're Lrntir Iate in thc cvcring, trre wire atrcnrrs cr:.:,,,ng.tur.", u, nreeli*gs, their
clrilti'en go to privittc after-schoor ciasies poprrrarry t ,,.r*,, ,,, 1,-r-t. u or crarn schoor sinrirar
to thc alicr-schoor 1u10r'ia l or coar'h iru syste,, ofoui coLr,r,,y. n"',, r.esLr I1, thcy dinc l.gclher.
oniy once or trvice a week rvhich is ariu'r,ing to any rionr;if ionJ. inr.,c {irnrirics are..rvcer<-
cnd Faurilics" in the scnse that trrere is intcrirction o'farriry rr.,"t",".rry on saturdays or
Sundays (Suginroto,2003, p. 173). ln sonre cases, lathers or.,,.,,ln.,"a ..Strntltr.r, Slrurtger.s,,,
as the only stay at horre on Sundays. In the iollowing.r;r";r;u;r, rvc shrll look into t,e
d ifi'eren t. d inrcns ions ofJapanesc r-amiries through rqzo, ,r,," "* "i,r,,c bcginning ofJapan,s
Economic Miracle, till rccent developtreltts.
Thc Nuclcar lranrily or Salary man Family
Thc dcc Iin in': Iri'trr ratc brousht about a suddcn dro1.r in thc sizc of'rarn irics in postwar ycars.
Thc avc'aqe hotrsehorcr sizc rro'ered around fir,e untir about iqss uur dcct;nea to ress tha,
t'ree i, the I 990s. The ntajor changc in tt," .lrpnnc." fonrr, oi rlr. latc I 950s and the
1960s was thc dcvclopment of the so_callcd.otr.y n.,r,, tio,r.,itf or the ,uclear family. This
typc of fhnrily corsisted ofa brcad-earning husoana *o.t ing Jutsidc thc homc or evcn trre
neigh'o rood' Irr this funriry the rvife typicilry becarr.,.i,or--.'"*;t." rpon nran.iagc and was
l'tot Ltnder inrnrediate authoritv of her ntother.in_law. The hLrstand,s prirlary role was that
ofbreadwinncr who used to go for longiours .,- 0"r", *".i,lcaving the nranage,rcnt ol
the householci rvith his wife. He was still thc head oi thc housc but a shadow figurc to his
child.en Marry of thc wives in thc srrary .ran rarrirics "nrr,*u ,n"t. ar-c*orts at honre
and had little opporturities to ',vork ou_tside tro,r.. tt,ey ,u"r,---te'rlirci ,,firlr_tinre housewivcs,,.
At.homc rhey mostry conccnh.ated a, their efforts ,rl p",",rr;;]. ,."r,r,," "u,,""i.,,, "iir,"i.
children pro'in-q themserves as "education nrothcrs" o,: ':r,yoiru nro,rn,' (Sugimoto, 2003.
p l74) Salaried'rer we'e considered to be desirabrc rr,iJul,,a. since they had assured
futurcs and their rvives would not have to rvork i, ,;;;;;;-ear*ing. The sepamrion
of the couplc's daily r.vorld was not viewcd os u p.obl"n.,. I't ;;,,;,.grr" the rvife incrcased
freedom and responsibility in managing her hr.uurat ruiury,',,,r.r rt.," "t.,itrt."n,. education.
Thus' gmdually she becanre thc rnain leprescntative or ir" tunriry in thc comnrunity.
The'eflore, thcsc changes in the rlmily strLrct,,r" prouiaea a,., rr,nr"i ,ir, ,rr" incrcasingly wcll_
educated.lapanesc rvonren. At rhe sarre timc, these new,;i.;i;;nr", e,couraged families
to edrcate tlrcir daughters and cncouragea ,ren to choosc educated rvivcs as we, (rmarnur.a,
I990, p l0) whire the numbc' ofexteided fanrir;* rr* *"ri,r.a ,rnrost constant, nucrear
fanrilies with i'eu' chirdren have. d.amaticary ;r.r".r"a l,rirg this period. For various
reasons, inclLrdingjob opportunities, tra'el corvenien.". ttr" r,-!. ro remain f'ee fiom too
tnany responsibilities and trre incrcasing cost ofeducation antr h-ousing, fanriries choose to
have fewer or uo children than they rrad in the past. n,1*t ro,rriii., *itrr irave crrosen
to have oniy one or rwo, bringing the nu"rog. to l.ZS fSrgir;,", 2003, p. 173). Nuclear
lrirrlrrrs ol .lir!rlilrcs. I'lrr11iiics : ( illrlltc lrrlrl ( ontinLlit!
lrrntilics cn-io1'a high tlcslcc ol'ilLltonollly all(l inclcpcttdctlcc ln sLtch a lirrlrrly lltr rt rl' 'i"'
rr,ri llrvc to rr olry ,-r'nnu,,tra (lail)' intcrvelltiolls olpllcllts-in-litw lttlti is ll-cc lo Irrtst rr "rrr'rlI
r)Lrr)1i)cr 01-cltildrctl tltc \\,ay thc), likc rvithotrt itltcrl'creucc lionr thc olr{cl gcllclalior) ( )rr llrL'
rrcgltivc siric. rvolt]cll iti nuclcur tirruilics in citics lcaci solitaly lnd ltlicrlatcd liVcsilllris is
,,,,1 -11,.i bccattsc theiI husbands clcvolc thcr.nsclves 1o thcil conlpanics rarcly atlcndirrg to
lirnrily nritttcrs, bttt also becattsc the nurllbel ofchiiclrcn is lovcr' the u'onlcn's parellts nray
l,r,: 1ar au'ay atrd intctactiotl rvith otltcr thnrilics in thc ncighbothood is rarc'
I)cclinc in [xtcrr dcd Farnilics
.lll)illlcsc lll|1ily stfilcture diffbr.s liomthat in othel intlLrstrializcti coutltries in its Iargc
1,,',rpoltion o1-extcnclcd fhnlilies rvith trvo aclult generatiorls Iivitrg trndcr the sarre roof This
1,,,ri"r, ;, irlcorrsislcnt rvith the rrlodctnization tllcol'y that indLrstrialization cntails the
,,vcrrvhclming clo:litlance of the tluclear farni)y But the llroportiol.l o1'cxtendcd fanrilies
rlith tlvo adu"lt generations living under the saure roof lias rapidly declincd to a little ovcr
l0 pcrcelrt. In rcality. lllost t\\'o-;encratiorr farrrilies nrakc this an'an-[crrent lor pragmatic
rcrrsons. Given thc liigh cost of p-urchasing housing propcrties' yotrng people are prepared
ro livc with or close to tileir parcnts and piovide thcnt witlt honrc-basctl [rursing care with
tlrc hopc of acquir-ing thcil housc after th;ir dcath in exchange Evcn if the'two gcncrations
,lu ,ot livc togcthcr or close' aged parents often expect to tcccive living allowances frort
rlrcir childre*lrvith the tacit u*de'siandi,g that they will repay the'dcbt'by allowing the
c.rrrtribLrting children to inhelit their propcity after death Aged parents without inhe table
rrsscls titce irluch nore hardships in tliis regara lt is not uncolnnlon tbr thc cxtendcd families
rr \lliuc r hrrrtily btrtlgcl bclrvccn oldct lnd yotlllger gcncrrtior)s'
IIl extcnclccl families, the traditional nornr Lequires that thc 1'amily of the first son
r.csiclcs u,ith his parcnts; horvcvct, this ofteD leads to a bittct tcnsion bctwecn his wife and
rrrrrltrcr. Bccaussofrapicl cltangcs in vrlucs bctu'ecu getretrtiotls' such a tensiol'l frequently
Ircc0n.tcs nIr ol,tcn cotlflict. The old urother-in-lalv cxpccts subrrission froln the young \vifc,
rvho prcl'crs and autorlonlotls and unconstrained lifestyle (Sugimolo' 2010' P l86) The
,.'xrcudctl families howcvcr, slrorv the signs that they aIe adapting to the changing
crrvir.o,rrcrt rvhile fctaining sorre traditionai fcat*r'cs. Mea*whilc, rural familics shorv t.t.tucl.t
rlcirrcr pattenrs ofcontintlecl and evclt illcreasillg tendencies ofthe extended tamily systctl
,rlrlrot,gh thcte aIC Signs of declinc in ic cOtlsciouSness alllol)g the young gelleration
(SuHinroto, 2003, P. 175-76)
Nr'\\' I'1rttern of Fnrnilies
lll(: lirst gctlct'ation ofsalaly lllan lanlilics foutrcl tlteu fo ttllatc as httsbands saw lnany
1'rrssihiliti"cs lbr.sclf_actualization; r.vives had fr.ecdom fronr traclitional fanrily plessures and
pt cirler' oppor.ttttlitics for tlreir children: tlrus, proveci a risirrg starrdard of livir.rg. Tlrese young
willr lunrily lifc as pictured in At.nerican movics This phenol)1erlon u a-s c:'ll:l l:':e "icr'
l,rrrrily". lt lvas touted in magazines and included the icleal ofnlore parlicipario:r bl hL:sflirltis
I: Ircrspcctiycs in Social Scicnc.
thc babidi; and cniovins outirgs witir larnilies on *,cek_cnds. llou,*.er.. as the husband
erltcrcci his eafl), thirtic\ and the childre'approachcd school agc. thc llmily,s goals
rvcre.rodified. If the husbanri werc- to succeed, hc hari to spcnd nror.c tinre on rrrcjob"and
ifchiltlrcn rve:-c to do ,,vell in school, their, rrother hati to hclp thcnr. In this way the cntirc
fanrily otlen coLrld not spcntr as'nucr'r tinre together as o.igr,,Uy pranncd. This ,ew fa,riry
initiatcd se'erai changes in.rapancse sociai rife. Day by day"grcarer expectatiors wel.e praced
on fhther's palticipation at rcast occasionaly in a"tir,;ri". *iitl thcir chircrrcn (rnra,rura r 990,
p. i0-ll).
Another change lvas rvo'ner's incrcasccr participatio^ in activitics oLrtside the ho,re. Thc
incrcasi,g nLrmbcr of cducatetr rvomen wirh Ionger pcriods fio,r rarriry obrigations
conh-ib'ted to the dcveroprnellt ofa vaficty ofopportunities ror.wor,cn rangillg fi.olx part-
tillrc or tcnrporary paid rvork. In this way the educared lviYes anci nrothcr.s began to broade[
thcil pcrspcclivcs Wonlen's increased cducatiou and thcir work-cxpericnce, lewerchildren
to raisc antl thc high cost ofboth housing and chiidren's cducation arso compclled married
wor,,,,c, lo crtcr'rbrcc. Thc ratc |eI drarrratica y rn Iggg to 10. r pci r000 persons
rcllcclins an inc'casc in edLrcation lbr botrr sexcs and virtua[y a univcrsal patterl ofwonrcn
working oulsiclc thc homc fbr scvcral year.s bcfore,r.,a.rirg". The edLrcaiion gap bet'veen
spo.scs gol slinr and signilicant nri,orities ofwonren even agrcecl that ir.a wornan could
sul.rport hc'scl1. it was not necessary for he. to marry. The o"u.rog" ,g" of mariagc for
wonrcn in 'la,arr has increasetr conside'abry in recent ycars (Nihon Kclai Shimburf Fc6.
23 ' 2u)9) Thcse rvor,en are berter educated and are abre to rive ficery with rverJ-paying jobs
arrtl 'clativcly l'erv obligations a,d responsibirities. Mar)y are not intcrestcd in seitringiorvn
with a husba,d and 'aising a family giving up their new-round frcecloms. tnstea"a rhcf
ciloose to lives as "Miss ord" remaining at lrorne *,itrr trreir parents rivi,g a reratively care-
fiee iif'e full ofshoppi*g sprees, expensive trips, and above all, freedo'r to.o,r" ord go u,
they plcase rvhile their rnothers cook, clean, and care tor them.
Then, houscholds outside conventional family structurc dralratically increased in
the 1980s. Mostly the youngsters who choose alter.native Iit-estylcs: Jil.e-titne singies, co_
habitatio, without forr,al ,rarriage, si,gle,rotrrers are secn as singre househorderc. Tlre
pcrcentagc is ar-ound 6. Thcse percentages roughly correspond io rhe proportions of
unrnarricd pcrsons i, their flofties. White-collar airpioy"". or" ,rro." eagef to n]arry than
bluc-collar rvo'kcrs, serf-cnrproyed or unenrproyed persons. o, the whore, the institution of
nralriagc rcnrains trrc nltlst prevarcflt forrn trre mare-fernarc rerationship, although
coutrll,nily accclllancc ofot'cr tbrnts appears to bc gradually spreading (Suginroto, 201-0,
P I8(r).
Social lssucs Atltcting Jxptncsc litmilics Today
Divorce or Scparation
A critical issue facing thc fanriry oIrocr.y is 'di'orcc'rvhirc in the past it was unacceptabre
to end a mariage. Ncverthercss, as rhc.c rv.s Iittrc c,rotion binding the*r tog"the., it wu.
quite easy lbr thenr to divorcc thcr.scrvcs rr.rlr, cach orhcr cnr.rioraly witrrin thc home.
l' Llr( fLr\ ol -lilIiltlcsc Fanrilics ; Chrngc irrrtl Continrrity
I,rrily. hort,cvct, thcle are nlany ll'lorc love l'llarriagcs: yci' divolce is sontctlling lllrrl is :lrll
,,rrrc\\'hilt 1i'orvtlcci tlpotl by ialllnese socicty Japan has orrcolthe lowcst ratcs ol tiiror't,.
rrr tlrc u'otlci. starldillg al l.lrr pcr-cent as oil99i) (hvao' 1993' p' I l'3) Unh{pPy cooPlcs
rrlrrry lirncs u'ill c1o thc samc thing their anccstols ditl b-v divolcing cnlotionalll'and staying
t,,rctltcr lctally. Witlt husbands ulllo 'uo'f to'g i''ou's and makc iicquclrt btrsincss trips it is
,,',,,..trrpfa i"t tftc two to lcad a scparxte Iivcs' perh'rps onlv,-\llirrinq a bcd in thc cvetlttrgs
rr lrt rt lhc hLtsbantl cotllcs i'ottt iltinl" ftom rvork lrvro ( 1 993' P l lg) has tcrtred this
'.rlrrirlion as "divorcc within t1'lc housc" ln adclition' Japancsc ]'rcolrle do r'lot considcr scxLral
lr{le lily or the tnaintaining oi u go-J"*uot relationsliip rv.itlr tlrcir spotlse to be of critical
rrl)orlancc atld a womatr b"ln"lt n''o'" iudcpcndcrl{ cconomically' socially' antl
p.,l,t hotogically, thc rare of extrat;;r'ital a1'tails "ontint'es to i:rctcltsc Many times thc wives'
i,i,,, i"",iiri.i'i flotr tireit l'";^i,;;' cannot t]ivorce tbr variorrs teasorts couseqttently;
tlr,'v rvill tr-rm to other nlell till. u ttt"' p^tti"n itl thcir livcs r'vhich adds to thc rise in this
;,,, ,,,r:,';;;,;;,ni ,i ,pou..r. tn ,"c"nt yenrs urore surplisingl-v, r s*all br-rt rising nuurber
,rl rcttiot-citizcn divorces is *,.rti'.,g l,,""'aii*"t Since tli''orcc is clearly listcd and types of
,lrr,orcc is statecl in family regitt;;;y;' if a child treed to entcr shcool' later to apply tbr
rr i.b, or ctrgage itr tlarriagc '"gotintiont' all involved can sce u4tcn rtrd how his or her
l)iu cn(s wcrc divolccd. Oiuu"" iy litigation is consiclcled llrol c tlpscttillg than divorce by
r.()nscnr. sugimoto (20 r0, p lg2-;3)oiir.,es that this alrituLre pclhaps pr-cvcnts pareuts fi'onr
litillrrting tlivorce in a large scale'
Ircrcase in Agcd PoPulation
Arrrrlhcr n.rajot'1'acing the cotrtcrnporary Japanese lamily is thc l^lt1 '^*,.:"fjf:.:"1*:::
;)l,liliIl,li,:+,,.;;;r""r.'"i^,*r,,*i'1'3"*:Y1'::'. 1111:'l':::,):"::::1::l:l?l:,lf.flilll
lliJilIllll,:il;t#*i;;;.;"-;*iv?''"r n*r'o'gr' *'"ul1"',.",,1::,::l::i::lT'":ll.':;1'
l:::':i-'iii.i,..J:;#;;;*.i1;;'"i'' n'o"tv to bc.c"'''d ry u]ll ?Ill.11',,tn-TI?;
llrrl irl ltorrc they have to ti" ro""ty iiut' ut P*pl""l: ]11-?Il::il j:::
rrtrr irr rrUrrrU t'rwri rKYv '" " ' " 'i'i"l.* ofcaie for thc agecl within thc lamily is still qtritc
orll iobs. Althotrgh the tradition: r;- r^,"rna<. rhev.rll
f):ll,[']:;;;."i" ffi;;il':.;id;e"lno*"," o'' n'i'i.g rrome" (i, 'rapa.esc thev carr
ir "li,x,iiir tlonli'is qttite cotnnron in contemporary Japan'
l\l utch-N4 aking: A dilficult Job Indecd!
I r ,ulir iorrllty i,r- -lapu, nroruiogt was a tratl's tnarket' At presclrt thc JaPancsc yourlg worllen
r {-'lrr'irlcc and youllg,nan utt tlo'ing alfficulty to firld stritablc, partrrct's A whole serics ol
,:,r,r,,,i-r. ^',ri t;ro.o]based introrlucttT seruicct (suclt as irralr'ltirrg corrr)- labcled by somc
rr,j llllc.rct marriage or high-tech nrarriage rrave deveroped.rvhich erppcar to be attmctive to
il;,:';,;,';;,;';;.king airoad for a Japauese companv r'villing- to find a Japanese spouse'
Agttttt, a sltortage of wotlen rn the applopriate age rangc'.an irrcrcase itt their level of
crrhrqrtion rtnd also earning topuuitiiy' i"ua'*onlen-to b" fairly sclectivc when looking fbr
,,-.",,,r" tt,n",l f"iroi SiiinlUun' stit f e' zooOl This situation is alamrirrg especially in
ir,,]".,,, ,',r ."f,"V nran families' in farnr families and in sn.rall-business fallrilies To malry
,rrIrlrirr,rrri rourarc. thc rruch-talked:.salar.y meri'(who a'e ortcn ca ed thc sy,rbol of.lapan's
t-1 Pc|spcctir cs in Socirl Scicncc
Posl\\il: cconollric irliraclc) arc tlle "rotlen cggs" as tllcl' 11 11'g to pass lollg horLrs fbr
l;opotolrotrs oflrce \\,o1k: hcncc, they are lilclall)'airscnl alld isolatcil ll'orlr farllilics.
Somctinrcs thc), arc trcatcd as a slrangef irnd l1']crciiessly labclcd as "sodai gorni", big
grrbagcl As ill ILrck u,ould havc il, thei:'plicc in the 'nlrttrillro:tirll l'narket' is not that high.
Again, thc cirvirdling nunrbct oftirlm fanilies is atso lircing ilrcrcasirlg.liflicultics in fintling
bliclcs. bccnLrsc today's young rvomer do nol waltt to stay and cngagc in farnring. On top
o1'that, thcre is a lcar to rctt.utin Ltndcr the ttrtclagc oflhcir trlothcrs-irr-law. As a rcsttlt.
systcnratic cllbtts to intport blidcs liortt Tairvan, Philippincs, elsewhcrc in Asia, or fl'orn
.lupancsc irluriglitnt cotlnrunitie s havc got the rvay (Moon, 1998). Wc asstttlc that 'Britle-
lnrpolt in .lapan'can bc an intcrcstittg topic for-Social Rcsearc}t. Sons froln shop-kecping
lirmilics urc atso litcing thc srtrrc problcrls itt rccent days. Again, a good tltttrber of.lapancsc
wonrcn lrc gctlin-q rrarlicri 1o thc loriglers (itnrnigrltrlts, or lol]gtillle u'orkers) who are
scttlctl in .lrr1.rirrr. '['hus, a nrulli-cLtltutc is devcloping slorvly totrching thc very culture of
.lapirn. lhis also inllrrcnccs thc corc ofJapanesc families.
I lss the /c I)is:rppcarcd?
ln postwar Japan thc i<, was abolishcd as a legal unit. In place a tluclcar fanrily has to be
rcgislcrctl. All childlcn arc sLrpposed to have equal rights to inheritallce and tlley share
rcsponsibility lirr thc carc ol'thcir parcnts. The larvs are drawn uP according to the
ClonslitLrtion ol' 1947 rvhich states that "With regard to choicc ol'spouse, propcrty rights,
inhcritancc, choice of dornicile, divorce and other lt.tatters pertainillg to rnan iagc and the
llnrily, lrnvs shall be enaclcd ft'otn thc standpoint ol indivitlual dignity and the essertial
cquality olscxcs" (Artrcle 24). These values arc itrported fi'onl thc West and it was further
clecidcd tlrat the existing fanrily systern was incompatible with tlrc tlcnrocratic state that
Japan sr.rpposcd to becolrc. Today the tllajority ofJapanesc f:rmilies live itr urban areas and
fbl most there is no longer a physical ie rvhich had been Passed down through gcnelatiolls.
Tlrercforc, thc continuoLls trend of the so-called 'nuclearization' of lhmily colllposition let
nany scholars to bclieve that the ic no longer fuuctiotls as a rcal sociological entity. The
postwar .lapanesc capitalist cconotny, for-rnded on a highly advanced tcchnology, has had a
stl'Ucturc llrat is quite diflerent tiom that ofthe prewar pel iod. Undoubtedly thcre ale many
zlspccts that distinguish the postwar ic from the prewar one (Moon, 1998, P ll7-18). Onc
ceremonial occasions, suclr as in wcdding ceremotly, the synlbols ol lhnrily lineage and
gencalogy surl'acc as an indication of the survival of thc extclldcd lanlily systent. The
Japanesc funcral also cxhibjts the endurance ol cxtclrdcd Ihnrily principles. The conruon
practice is that the body ol'thc dcccased is brought back hotlc evell if hcr or she dies in
hospital. ln the past a wakc woLrlti hold ncarly all night bcsitlc thc body at the housc where
tlte pelson lsed to live. Mcntorial scrviccs werc also hcld at homc. Tlris plactice still persists
in the rural areas ofJapan. llrtl in uroticrn Japan, cspccially in thc urban areas, wake and
funerals ale held in sogijo, or ('crctlony llalls.'fhc asltcs are buried at the family tomb.
Thus. the discourse about (hc ic and trnrlcrlying plinciplcs arc still Ltsed as fornrs ofideology
in othcr areas ofthe Japancsc socicly, thoutsh ltltrcll ol'tl)c lirnrily systcm has been modified
rvilhin thc donrestic lcalm. In rcalily "thc notion ol'tltc ic continucs to be held quite happily
l',rrL'r r\ ()l .lii|u cs. I'rrrnilics I C irangc rlrt{ ( ,rrltillllity l l
,Lr 1ri1r), 1) oi .lapal. and clscwhcrc its undcliying plirciplcs 1'rctvaclc lltc rtLrclcar lrrruilies
rr lrr, lr irl.rpcirr ou llrc sullacc to llc quitc irdcpcrltlcnt" (Hcndry, 2003, P. l0-l l).
|lr.tirrr thc Worlcl II- thc.lal]ancsc society \\,as thc slroitgly 10 a codc ot'C'onlLrcjan ctlric. a
l:r, t()r ol grcitt irlltortancc in titc structr.lrc and function of firmiiics ofthc cla. Thcsc lnnlilies
\\r.rr olic11 uralc-don.rinated ancl Iarge $,ith sevcral bratrchcs o1'thc tirnlily and scvclal
r,,.rrL.rirlittns living in oDC h0usc togctl]cr. WOntcn wcrc sttbOrdinatc ittlcl u'cLc CxpCCteC{ to
r,rrlrr]1it t0 thc str.ict r.Lrlcs ofsocicty, as it is aheacly mcnliotrcd. Ilowcvcr, Japan's defeat in
\\irrltl War ll btought tbout a change clictating both scxcs as cqual. Shortly thcrcalter wouretr
lr|Iln to get tnore cducation a:rd wcrc no longcr subjcctcd to thc llalsh prilrciples of
r 'rrrrlircian lau,, while still expccted to be the caletakers itr thc lanrily, thcy rvere given tllorc
tr,..crlullr to cl]oosc horv tlreir livcs rvould be. Coupies bcgan to marty at oldcr agcs and have
lL.wcr children than in the past dlastically changing tllc stlucttll'c of.lapancse families. In
rr,ltlirion. therc u,as a dcct'casc in thc nutlber ofatranged nrarriagcs as both wolllcn alld rllcll
rvcrc allorvcd to seck out lovc rrarriages. As the StrLlctulc of.lallanesc fanlilies clratrged, so
,.lrrl thc tcchnology availatrlc to thcse families, and both play a Ialge part in dctc lining the
Irllcr.cci r.olcs ol'nten an<i lvomcn in modent Japanese firn.rilics. With the intlodttction of
llrorlcnr appliances wonlcn havc u]uch nlore fi'ee timc to sllclld to devclop theil owll
Itlcl.csts. Fathel.s, ou the othcr lrand. spcnd r:elatively littie tinre at houlc, spcnding most of
ir at work. Their.children alurost never see thell aud as an additional discrcdit to the father's
irLrtl)ority, thcy no longer-actually see their father''s finatlciitl contribution to the farllily.
( i)nscquerltly. lllothers liokl neat ly all ofthe autholity in thc nlodem .lapanese family while
lirthcrs arc otlentinrcs tneLely seen as allotller Son. In lllally ways. thc Structtlfo, values, and
rolcs ofthe.lapanese thurily have changed drastically ovel the Past cclltr.lfy tl'ol11 very ialge
rtrrtl nalc-dortrinated to much smallcr and essentially lcmale-dorttinatcd. Nevcfiheless, thcrc
rrrc stilt many ways in rvhich thcse familics ate very siurilar to thcil anccstors'farlrilies. Thc
shurc rrany of the same traditions cveu though sonle ideas have lreetl changed through thc
ycars $,herc tlre Japanese farrrily is heading for depcnds on the changing socioeconotlic
lirclols. The 2l', ccutury young .lapanese people expect tbr mo|e individual choices tharl
lhcir parents'gcneration had. But they are cxpcctcd to cousidet thc "Anrericanizatiol of
lhc Jailtltcse society" that lcads to extreme individualisnr lvith alarm. Thc Amel ican Mocicl
slrould not be their ideal bccause|ican social ploblellls, such aS a high divorce rate,
clrugs and homelessness are a matter ofgreart concem eveu in Arlet ica. Following the glory
ol'the past, thc firture Japancsc family is expected to rely oll its own traditional sh'cngtlrs (we
Iravc scen that still the re remains, may be in alternativo fo|ms as the basic lr:rit of social,
politrcal and rcligious litb in a Japanese family) and welcotrc tlre eletrents that are best-
sLritcd to the Japanese society and modily or leject thc obsoletc oncs.
Rcfcrcn ccs
\irrk. l, I5--t.i
Itrrartntta. Anllc 1:,. \11)t)0) '7'h?.hry(nt:<, l:utnil). . Asi.r Socicr), I,. 7_i7.
llarvard tJn iversiry ll.css.
Moorr.Okpyo(l9rS). ls th? l( Dilo|p&t.itr,: itt ntrul ,htpun_'. irr llcrr(Ir..loy (cdt. 2,,1 F.dition) lrtcrprcting
.lapuncsc Socicrr,. Roullcdgc Lond(n nd Ncw york. pp I I 7- 129.
Nihon Kciziri Shirnbuu (.,apan Econonric Ncrvspapcr.), l-cb_ 21, Scpl. 19.2009.
Sano. Chiy ( l97l). ( lntrying tllutr o/ rh<'Jupttttcst Funil.t, wcslpofl. conn: crec0wood prcss. publishc,r.s.
P. t7]-t7L).
sugimoto' Yosh io (1010) t rntrortklio to.h?oneic&xi(t.t (Thinr Ddition.\). cir tr)ti(rgc uni\crsity prcss. p
256- tSii
i'crspccrl\'cs in Social Scrcfcc
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
olcs ol'nten an<i lvomcn in modent Japanese firn.rilics. With the intlodttction of llrorlcnr appliances wonlcn havc u]uch nlore fi'ee timc to sllclld to devclop theil owll
  • Irllcr
Irllcr.cci r.olcs ol'nten an<i lvomcn in modent Japanese firn.rilics. With the intlodttction of llrorlcnr appliances wonlcn havc u]uch nlore fi'ee timc to sllclld to devclop theil owll
Chiy ( l97l). ( lntrying tllutr o/ rh<'Jupttttcst Funil
  • Sano
Sano. Chiy ( l97l). ( lntrying tllutr o/ rh<'Jupttttcst Funil.t, wcslpofl. conn: crec0wood prcss. publishc,r.s. P. t7]-t7L).