Contemporary Portraits of Japanese Women

Contemporary Portraits of Japanese Women

Contemporary Portraits of Japanese Women

Contemporary Portraits of Japanese Women

Synopsis

As Japan shifted from an agricultural country before 1950 to an industrialized nation in less time than any other developed country, women felt the pressure of the shift. Husbands worked longer hours, leaving all the household chores and child rearing to their wives while fulfilling their responsibilites as corporate soldiers. The economy was fueled by a diligent, well-educated, low-paid workforce, but gender role division became even more rigid. Household incomes rose and improvement in areas such as diets, transportation, and leisure were made; modern appliances also made it possible for mothers to have part-time jobs. But pollution also rose, as did prices, and crowded living conditions began to impinge on family life. Tanaka, who has spent many years looking back at her country from an American perspective, examines marriage, motherhood, employment, independence, women's movements, and old age for women in Japan over the last 50 years.

Excerpt

This book is not intended to present an all-inclusive treatment of women in contemporary Japan. Instead I have tried to present to the Western reader a collage of subjects and issues that seem especially relevant to me, either because of my personal experience (or the experiences of friends and acquaintances in Japan) or because the subjects clearly command the attention of Japanese women and are interesting in light of comparable issues in other countries. My voice is basically that of a critic, a woman who grew up in Japan from 1940 to 1969 but eventually established some distance from her country. Behind the bright picture of economic figures and portfolios that dominated Western media reporting on the "Land of the Rising Sun" were shadows, in the form of problems resulting from dramatic changes in lifestyle, particularly for women and children. This book will show some of these problems, as well as favorable changes; it will present realities being lived by Japanese women today, in marriage and family life, motherhood and child rearing, work and social participation. The tableau that emerges will depict a more complete picture of Japan today.

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