28 December 2013

The Guardian: “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?”

Aversion to marriage and intimacy in modern life is not unique to Japan. Nor is growing preoccupation with digital technology. But what endless Japanese committees have failed to grasp when they stew over the country’s procreation-shy youth is that, thanks to official shortsightedness, the decision to stay single often makes perfect sense. This is true for both sexes, but it's especially true for women. Marriage is a woman’s grave, goes an old Japanese saying that refers to wives being ignored in favour of mistresses. For Japanese women today, marriage is the grave of their hard-won careers. […]

Around 70% of Japanese women leave their jobs after their first child. The World Economic Forum consistently ranks Japan as one of the world’s worst nations for gender equality at work. Social attitudes don’t help. Married working women are sometimes demonised as oniyome, or “devil wives”. In a telling Japanese ballet production of Bizet’s Carmen a few years ago, Carmen was portrayed as a career woman who stole company secrets to get ahead and then framed her lowly security-guard lover José. Her end was not pretty.

Abigail Haworth

Highly interesting article, even though there are plenty of other data and opinion contradicting it. I can’t pretend to be an expert on the matter, but I suspect the attitude towards marriage is a reflection of the relatively recent freedom of the society, an exaggerated reaction to the strict Japanese traditions. Now that these traditions are fading, people simply have more room to make their own choices in life, even if for some that choice means staying single and not having children.

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