Gender Equality in a Good Partnership

While researching the significance of being a ‘Good Wife and Wise Mother’ (ryosai kenbo) in the Japanese society, I found some noteworthy articles on this topic.

In the early 90s, I was called a ‘career woman’ for working in Japan, which occasionally came with a  negative connotation. For some, I should have stayed at home, being a ‘kanai’ (Japanese for: in-house person), looking pretty, and cooking well. And yes, maybe wearing Snoopy socks while fixing my husband’s meal.

Gender equality is far from being the norm in Japan — the country ranked 101st out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index in 2012.

For the longest time, it was the norm for a Japanese woman wanting to achieve the ryosai kenbo status in society. This has changed though. Japanese women are less likely to get married these days.

Surprisingly though, even as late as 2016, the Japanese man is still looking for these traits in a wife. If you look at the men’s expectations below, it will become clear as to why fewer Japanese women opt for marriage.

Based on this article 10 Qualities Japanese Men Want their Wives to Possess from 2016, this 10-point list really puts Japan’s gender inequality in the spot light:

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10. She has good “money sense,” and knows how to manage the household finances. It is not acceptable if she overspends.

I want the same good money sense from my male partner too.

9. She knows how to cook well, and can make good meals for guests.

Yes, my husband can cook a good meal. Especially on the weekend, if he has time to scour the New York Times recipe section to cook something new for us.

8. She is good at housework, and can make a clean and comfortable living space.

He’s not around that much to do housework, and I work from home. I do most of it.

7. She has a successful career, and a good education.

This is a rather high demand on a Japanese man’s wish list. Have a successful career and raising successful children too..? Is the same man capable of having a good education, a successful career, and raising children on the side as well? No, these are double-standards.

6. She has a positive attitude, and speaks to people with a sincere heart.

We all like to be surrounded by people with a positive attitude.

5. She has a good character, and excellent social skills.

My husband has a good character, and since he is a working man, he also has developed good social skills.

4. She is gentle, kind, and obedient.

I like a partner with a gentle heart too, but I would not expect him to be obedient. This would not be a partnership. Definitely gender inequality.

3. She has a healthy figure. She loves sports, and is good at one sport, or can play an instrument, or dance.

Don’t overdo it here! After a full day at work, raising successful children at the end of it, you expect your partner to do sports, dance, or play music…? I’ve read the Japanese wife is supposed to bring your slippers, run your bath, and fix your meal when you come home at 11 pm. Sorry, I won’t play the Shamisen for you that late.

2. She must be nice looking, and is willing to raise children; the more, the better.

My husband is nice looking. Thank you.

1. But the most important quality is a good family background; that is what most Japanese men put as the first priority. A good family background brings lots of benefits to the future family. Well-raised kids will get along with other family members, and there will be a harmonious family life.

One of my former students in Japan told me she had to write something similar to a CV and resume before she could be asked out on a date by the man of her choice. He submitted her paperwork to his parents. When it was approved, she could go out with him.

Yes, the family background is still a first priority.

Take my input with a grain of salt, but do keep in mind that we hope for respect, dignity, and equality in any relationship.

Here I played the role of a ‘Good German’ really well: dressed in Bavarian clothing, selling German goods in a Japanese department store. These career women… 🙂

Selling German goods in Japan

More articles to read on this topic:

Three Versions of the Good Wife in Japan (article in the JapanTimes)

Joshiryoku-How is Girl Power defined (women’s ability to look after their appearance and being insightful enough to care for others by savvytokyo)

Quote of the Day

One kind word can warm three winter months.

– Japanese proverb –

Ferry from Ikishima to Hakata

German Lesson: das Rechenbrett

As a teacher and antiques collector, I always appreciate unique teaching material. When we lived in Japan in the early 1990s, I bought some antique abacuses/abaci, of which the big one had been used in the elementary school in its former days.

the abacus: das Rechenbrett (‘calculation frame’)

Abacus in Japanese elementary school

There are two more sizes – the bigger one in the next photo was used by students and adults (merchants, traders, etc.) and the small was for the hands of real young learners. Oops, I just realized the small one is upside down.

Abacus

Taken from The Abacus – A Brief History

Circa 1600 C.E., use and evolution of the Chinese 1/5 abacus was begun by the Japanese via Korea. In Japanese, the abacus is called Soroban. The 1/4 abacus, a style preferred and still manufactured in Japan today, appeared circa 1930. The 1/5 models are rare today and 2/5 models are rare outside of China (excepting Chinese communities in North America and elsewhere).

福島の復興か?犠牲か?Clean up or Mess up for Fukushima?

 Posted: 22 October 2013

Makiko Wood, a high school teacher from Japan who currently resides in Germany, shares the following information about the clean up of the mess in Fukushima, set for November 2013. 

繰り返される事故、放射能汚染、汚染水漏れ・・・。あの地震から2年半経った今でも、深刻な状況が続いています。そして、東電の場当たり的な対応もさることながら、今何が起きているのか分からない現状に苛立ちを感じます。海外のブログでこんなものを見つけました。日本で知らない人もいるのではないかと思い、紹介します。

11月に福島第一原発で、ある重大な作業が始められる。それは、福島第一原発第4号機のプールに保管されている、高度に放射能汚染された使用済み核燃料およそ400トン(重さ300kg、長さ4.5mの核燃料1535本分)を取り出すというものだ。更なる地震が発生した場合に崩壊する可能性がある建屋から避難させるのだが、地震により以前ミリメートル単位での作業を制御していたコンピュータが壊れたため、クレーンでのマニュアル作業で行うのだ。この作業には大きな危険が含んでいることは言うまでもない。

大量のプルトニウムを含んだこの使用済み核燃料の放射性物質は、広島に落とされた原爆の14,000倍と言われている。もし、この使用済み核燃料が、取り出し作業中に落下したり破損することになれば、最悪の場合、大爆発やプール内でのメルトダウンを引き起こす可能性もあり、そうなれば、東京や横浜を含む広い範囲に、莫大な量の放射能を放出することになる。世界核産業動向年報2013では、「コントロールなしでの4号機からの使用済み核燃料の取り出しは、史上最も深刻な放射能災害を引き起こすだろう」と報告された。(中略)

Watch the video at raw for beauty: http://rawforbeauty.com/blog/no-one-is-watching.html

海外に住んでいる私だから、福島第一原発の情報に疎くなっているのか・・・。それとも、日本人が知らされていないのか・・・。両親に聞いてみると、     この危険な作業を行わなければいけないことももちろんそうだが、国民に周知されていないことも問題です。福島に住んでいる私の両親は、地震後も政府を信じ、政府やメディアの発表をもとに、福島に残りました。一方、東京に住んでいる姉は、地震以降、一度も実家には帰っていません。情報を信じるかどうかは、個人が判断するものですが、「秘密保全法案」が国会を通ろうとする最中、判断基準となる情報を得難いことに憤りを感じます。

Repeated accidents, radiation contamination, leaking of radiated water… It is still a severe situation in Fukushima after two and half years from the earthquake. I feel irritated about the actual statement, because we are not informed what is happening as well as ad hoc steps of TEPCO. I found some information about Fukushima in an overseas blog and I would like to share it for people who might not know about it otherwise.

A delicate operation is about to start in Fukushima in November, which is to remove 400 tons of highly radiated spent fuel rods – 1535 fuel rods, 300kg of weight and 4.5m long each- from the pool in damaged Reactor No.4 so as to evacuate the rods from the damaged reactor building. However, the delicate and dangerous operation has to be completed manually with cranes because the computer which is used to control process that memorized the exact locations of roods down to the millimetre was broken by the earthquake.

This operation is obviously fraught with danger. This spent fuel which contains deadly plutonium is equivalent to 14,000 times amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.  If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks, or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst-case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large nuclear fire.

Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk.  Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013, “Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date.”

I wonder whether I am not abreast of the information by TEPCO or people, in general, who live in Japan are not informed. I asked my parents about is. It is a big problem that both we have to face the dangerous operation and we are not informed about the operation, or anything for that matter. After the earthquake, my parents still live in Fukushima, believing the government and the media. On the other hand, my sister who lives in Tokyo has not been back to our parents’ house since the disaster happened.

It is personal decision what they believe, however, as the law of secrets is about to pass the National Diet (国会 Kokkai), I am very irritated by the actual statement. It is hard even for people who live in Japan to get the right information to make a sound judgment.

 

Okonomiyaki

On our last night in Japan, our good friend Yoshiko took us out for okonomiyaki. My, oh my – this was good!

Prior to going out, my companions wanted to know what it was and I described as a pancake with Japanese ingredients. I had had it before, but this time I tried it with mayo on the side.

Surprisingly, I saw quite a few Japanese using mayo on dishes such as okonomiyaki, yakisoba, sushi, etc.

Okonomiyaki

To learn more about its history and local varieties, visit History – Okonomiyaki World.

 

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