Japanese Author Says Gender Equity Will Cure Social Ills

By Wetzstein, Cheryl | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 10, 1999 | Go to article overview

Japanese Author Says Gender Equity Will Cure Social Ills


Wetzstein, Cheryl, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - "`The brain of a Japanese man is so slow to change," laments Tomoko Inukai, a maverick Japanese writer.

Miss Inukai believes that unless Japan's male-dominated society alters its treatment of women, marriage and family, it is headed for social calamity.

The problem is Japan's meager birthrate and growing elderly population. In just a few years, there will be too few young people to support and care for the retirees, Miss Inukai recently told an international conference on family issues in Malaysia's capital city.

Japan's "highly educated and capable" women are key to the solution, but they must assert themselves, Miss Inukai told the "Pure Love and True Family" conference, sponsored by the Malaysian Ministry of National Unity and Social Development and the Women's Federation for World Peace.

"As we approach the new millennium, it is up to women to speak out more and fight for greater recognition of their position and rights," she said.

Miss Inukai, who is divorced and has two adult children, is not alone in her complaints about Japanese gender roles.

Recently Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's office released a report on "gender equity" in Japan.

The report coincided with a debate in the Japanese parliament on a bill to give Japanese men and women equal and joint responsibility in leading the country.

The gender report found that Japanese men have a virtual monopoly in management jobs and earn most of the money.

"At home, they do little housework, believe looking at porn on the Internet is fine and have probably abused their wives emotionally and even physically," the report said, according to the South China Morning Post.

More than 55 percent of Japanese women in one poll complained of being emotionally harassed by their husbands, while 33 percent said they had been hit, kicked or threatened, the Post reported.

Japanese lawmakers have recently proposed spending $1.5 million for day care centers and other services for working families. …

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