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Balancing Work and Family Life

Japan is one of the few countries where a graph of womens employment lifetime
trajectory forms an M shape: high employment before child bearing, big drop
during childbearing and raising the children, and a rise when the children begin
We see a silent rebelion of women regarding the cultural pressure to quit
work during this time: a fall on birthrates and a rise on the age of marriage
At the same time that society expectations for women have increased regarding the
role of mother, they have decreased when it comes to the role of worker
1889 Meiji Constitution began to articulate the familys role in contributing to the
nation. Two competing visions regarding women - focus on productivity vs focus on
domesticity - continuously aected state actions towards women into the mid-
Women increasingly viewed employment as essential to maintaining the middle-
class status they had achieved in the boom years during the First World War
By the 1930s, the role of the family had been transformed from the locus of moral
socialisation (formerly the responsibility of men) to the seat of warm emotion,
something that only women were seen as capable of fulfilling
After losing the Second World War, American occupation forces drafted the new
Japanese constitution which stated the need to establish the equality of men and

Postwar Era: Shift toward Domesticity

Following the war, the wise mother aspect was becoming the dominant element of
the good wife, wise mother edict. The ever-growing expectations and standards
for being a mother in Japan made it ever so more dicult for women to combine
parenting with employment
There are a number of reasons why Japanese women are more likely than women
in other countries to leave work when they have children:
- cultural attitudes
- the fact that certain structural features of the Japanese labour market decreases
womens participation
- the practice of hiring women and then pressuring them to quit after less than 10
years (upon marriage/pregnancy), rather than letting them keep the job and benefit
from seniority
- age discrimination. Even though it is prohibited nowadays, the law still contains
too many exemptions to provide enough protection for older workers

Youthful Dreams and Variable Support from Parents

In Japan most students parents have to pay most or all of their college expenses.
This motivates the parents to reflect on the return on their investment.
Many parents restrict their daughters career options to jobs that follow their views
about what females are capable of physically and psychologically.
Diculty of maintaining good human relations on the job

Social relations at a place of employment are structured in terms of an individuals

occupation at that site. There are three types of co-workers for an employee:
- doki: those who joined the firm at the same time as the employee
-senpai: senior colleagues who joined the firm priorly
-kohai: junior colleagues who joined the firm subsequently

Japan is one of the only modern capitalist societies where women are forcefully
pushed out of the workplace when they get married or become pregnant
Most companies find it more economical to employ young women than to continue
paying those who have accumulated seniority. Sometimes, employers will keep a
married/pregnant woman as long as they can assure that their performance will not
be aected by her new status.
Women feel forced by their families,husband and employer to give up work once
they become pregnant. Many women feel a sense of ambivalence about continuing
work after getting married. They believe their primary responsibility is to take care
of their husband and children.
Women seem to respond to cultural expectations about womens role by choosing
to stay at home, but then find themselves frustrated with the role of wife and
Many women lose potential successful careers once they get married and quit their
jobs, because even when they go back to work after their children age a bit, they
never get the same kind of job they use to have. There is a waste of labour skill
here, and a misogynistic sense that the qualified workforce should not include
women whom are pregnant or married.

The fact that the Japanese work mindset is so intense and requires so many
sacrifices makes many women sceptical on whether to find a full-time employment
or not, once they are married.
There is a need to include basic changes in work policies that would allow women
to make work more compatible with family life, as well as for men
However, women saw a number of benefits of working before they got married and
after their children were no longer babies:
- improvement on well-being and parenting self-ecacy
- feeling more calm and less stressed, specially in interactions with their children
- opportunities to connect with other women, and to receive emotional support
from them
Japanese women are not looking for exit options from their marriage. However,
their determination to pursue a life that includes more than staying at home with a
baby is shown by their disinclination towards jumping early into the business of
having a baby