Whatâ€™s up Mamomaniacs! We turn our attention to the growing disconnect between Japanese men and women. Japan watchers know that the country is in the middle of a deep depopulation crisis. In order for a population to remain stable, a woman must give birth to at least two children in their lifetime. In Japan and South Korea the birthrate is far below the amount needed for the two countries to replace their aging citizenry.
(For those who want to know why depopulation is a bad thing, please read my post on the subject here.)
Whenever we read about Japan’s low birthrate in English language media, the story always focuses on how the poor women of Japan are too oppressed to have children and work at the same time (with more emphasis on the economy and careerism than the children themselves).
As an example, Reuters News India writes that:
‘Birth-giving machine’ gaffe hits nerve in Japan
Fri Feb 2, 2007 3:50 PM IST
By Linda Sieg
[i]TOKYO (Reuters) – Even his wife was angry.
When Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa called women “birth-giving machines” he outraged the many Japanese who have shed traditional gender stereotypes, confirming their suspicions that Japan’s leaders are out of step with the times.
The gaffe — which coincides with a slump in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popularity — has prompted opposition party calls for Yanagisawa to step down and has given the ruling camp another headache as it gears up for an upper house election in July.[/i]
“My wife scolded me,” Yanagisawa told Japanese reporters this week after having told local party faithful on Saturday: “Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head.”
Yanagisawa altered his remarks almost as soon as spoke them, but critics say the fact he said them at all reflects deep-seated views that permeate Japan’s male-dominated corridors of power.
“What women are angry about is that Yanagisawa’s remarks are evidence that this is the view of men who have power,” said Sumiko Iwao, an honorary professor at Tokyo’s Keio University who until last month headed a government advisory panel on gender equality.
It isn’t the first time conservatives in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have seemed out of sync with ordinary Japanese on gender matters.
Last year, a proposal to give women equal rights to ascend the throne was scrapped after the birth of Japan’s first prince in four decades, despite surveys showing the vast majority of the public would be happy to see a reigning empress.
“We have seen this time and again, and women are now convinced that this is a sort of shared attitude among many men in power,” Iwao said.
Japanese women still lag their counterparts in other advanced countries in terms of political clout and earning power, but faced with a sagging birth rate, companies have stepped up efforts to make better use of the abilities of female workers and managers.
“Women have become equal and many are working, so what was he thinking of in describing them that way?” said 26-year-old part-timer Keiko Otsuki as she headed for work on Friday.
“As a woman, I find it offensive to be treated like an object.”
This story makes me wonder if our intrepid female reporter interviewed any Japanese people outside of feminist circles. Many Japanese, male and female alike, take pride in the differences of their respective sexes, more than this article gives them credit for.
Japanese women, on the whole, enjoy being feminine… which is one of the reasons why they are so irresistible to Western men, who may have never seen a truly feminine woman before in his entire life in the West.
While there are quite a few full time career women, there are also a great many women that work part-time, as one of the women quoted in the piece does, BY CHOICE. A great many J-Girls on the street are NOT trying to lead the miserable lives of their full-time live-for-work sisters in the West. And a lot of them would rather travel the world, buy ridiculously expensive Prada handbags, clothes, and shoes, or mooch off of dear old mom and dad than to get married, and have children.
While Yanagisawa Sensei definitely used the wrong choice of words by describing women as â€œBaby Making Machinesâ€, the idea that women are not â€œdoing their partâ€ is indeed a widespread attitude among a large number of Japanese men, as well as older Japanese of both sexes.
Many of my comrades describe their women as being â€œselfishâ€ and â€œuseless.â€ In short, there is a great deal of discontent in modern Japan, that is not being reflected in English language media (no surprise there).
The Reuters article continues:
Preliminary estimates show Japan’s fertility rate — the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime — may have edged up last year after hitting a record low of 1.26 in 2005, but the rate is expected to start falling again this year.
Japan’s population has already begun shrinking, raising worries about future economic growth, and just two days after Yanagisawa’s comment, Abe set up a new panel to draw up steps to address the problems of Japan’s declining population.
The shortage of babies has been linked to a variety of factors, including a trend towards late marriages and the difficulty women face in balancing family and work needs, in part because of the long hours their husbands spend at work.â€
What the article doesnâ€™t say is that in Japan, a great many married women with children either do not work at all, or only work part-time. Upon getting married, many Japanese women greedily leave their jobs to become homemakers, and Japanese companies are fully aware of this. English language media generally portrays the professional hardnosed feminist career woman (the type of woman that is to be avoided even here in the â€œprogressiveâ€ West, for being the only voice that matters). This is a topic that many Japanese have a great diversity of views on, and most have a decidedly anti-feminist slant.
And a huge reason why the birthrate has dropped, like third period French, is that Japanese men have decided to throw in the towel. A lot of my pals on the Japanese street complain that Japanese women have become â€œAmericanized.â€ Which would make sense when one considers that women, who are impressionable by nature, are heavily influenced by American movies and television shows, which are very popular in Japan. These foreign films are usually given with Japanese language voice-overs or subtitles. On top of this, many Japanese television shows have become more feministic in nature.
The Oprah-ization of Japanese airwaves has created a paradox; Japanese women seeking chivalry and P.A.Tâ€™s (punk ass tendencies) such as Western male pussification in Japanese men. This is a paradox, because our ideals of Romantic Love and Chivalry are utterly foreign concepts to most Japanese guys. Donâ€™t think that Oprah and company canâ€™t brainwash the masses of gullible ladies? Think againâ€¦
According to the LA Times:
SEOUL â€” Faced with a tumbling birthrate and women souring on the idea of marriage and family, the South Korean government is reaching out to a small group of people believed to have the power to avert a demographic catastrophe: prime-time drama writers.
Last month, the Planned Population Federation of Korea held a two-day seminar for writers of TV soaps and dramas and urged them to create more situations that show happy mothers with their children. The aim is to counter an anti-baby mood that is leading South Korea down the path to being, well, a smaller country.
“For many years we have been pondering what influences people the most, and we concluded it was TV dramas and other news and documentary programs,” said Shin Sun-chol of the family planning group. “We are just asking the writers to be more considerate because some programs now depict career women as being very egoistical, thinking only of themselves.”
The idea of leaning on TV writers for social engineering followed the release of a government study of 50 South Korean dramas that shows a television landscape in which single life is portrayed as cool, children as a burden, and love as something that does not always have to lead to marriage and a family.
And that’s important in a country where the audience of potential mothers â€” women in their 20s and 30s â€” is known to be heavily influenced by TV dramas. Not only do the shows generate big audiences, but their subject matter is spun off to heavily trafficked Internet chat rooms where plot lines are discussed with great intensityâ€¦
Statistics released last month show that the birthrate of South Korean women ages 15 to 49 fell to a record low of 1.08 in 2005. The government now predicts that the country’s population will start decreasing by 2018, two years earlier than previously expected.
And with South Koreans’ life expectancy increasing, projections suggest that by 2050, those older than 65 will account for 37% of the population, which would give the country the social and economic burdens of being the world’s most aged society.
Government policies have had little success in persuading women to have more babies. Reasons for the lack of enthusiasm include worries about the cost of education and job uncertainty. Moreover, South Korea trails most Western countries in providing child-care options for mothers who want to work.
There are also strong signals that South Korean women are far less likely than men to see marriage as desirable. An October poll for the Health and Welfare Ministry found that 71% of unmarried men considered marriage “necessary,” whereas the same percentage of unmarried women preferred a good job to marriage.
Earlier government surveys showed a dramatic drop since the late 1990s in the number of women with a positive attitude toward having children. More than a third of married women now say having children is not a priority, up from 9% in 1998.
So the government has set out to improve the public image of marriage and family. Prime-time dramas have a track record of altering attitudes, Shin said, noting that when the government was trying to reduce South Korea’s high birthrate in the 1960s, the Planned Population Federation petitioned TV writers to show households with fewer childrenâ€¦â€
There you have it. While a lot of young, impressionable J-Girls have visions of Prince Charming dancing through their heads; Japanese men, as much as they enjoy such shows as â€œFriendsâ€ or â€œ24â€, are NOT looking for Americanized Japanese women for love and marriage, and are increasingly opting out of the whole sorry dating game.
As we read in the Mainichi Shimbum:
In hard-working Japan, the country’s current whipping boys are those who’ve been lumped in the category of NEET — an acronym for those Not in Employment, Education or Training – with the word carrying connotations of being bums with no interest in life.
Now, according to the men’s weekly, Japan is witnessing a proliferation of Rennai NEETs, or bums who couldn’t care about love.
The magazine bases its judgment on a survey of 3,000 single men aged from 20 to 39 in which it discovered two thirds do not have a girlfriend and a startling one-third haven’t had a partner for three years or more.
The main reason for not interacting with the opposite sex was that there was no chance to meet, but following close behind was that looking for a girlfriend was simply a nuisance.â€
Indeed, my friends tell me that todayâ€™s modern hypersensitive Japanese women, who are expecting constant text messages, constant reassurance of their â€œloveâ€, and are constantly demanding and giving orders ala Everybody Loves Raymond, simply are not worth the trouble. Marriage is out, sex friends are way in, and brothels are boomingâ€¦ when the guys are having sex that is.
Looking at another article from the Mainichi:
Japan Cherry Boys Club vows to end innocence by drawing lines, practicing judo
Japan’s male virgins have given up on the idea of being unwillingly celibate for life and will do their bit to curb the dramatically declining national birthrate, the head of the Japan Cherry Boys Association tells Shukan Josei (2/13).
“We can’t depend on the government for everything. We virgins have got to stand up once again and do our bit for the country by tackling the birthrate problem,” Nobuyoshi Watanabe, president and founder of the male virgins’ club, tells Shukan Josei.
Watanabe, who proudly boasts of never having dated a woman in his entire life, also fills his resume by bragging about being one of the 10 percent of Japanese men aged 40 to 45 who remain virgins.
He formed the virgins’ association eight years ago after being rejected by the woman he had fallen in love with. He used the Internet to look for like-minded friends with similar backgrounds and experiences. The association now claims a nationwide membership of 260, all of who have the stated aim of losing their virginity as quickly as possible. But what are they doing about achieving their goal?
“First and foremost, we study. To make sure we have an anatomical background of women, we all draw pictures of female genitalia and critique them,” Watanabe tells the women’s weekly. “We had one guy who just drew a straight line and said, ‘I’m finished.’ That’s how little we all know. It’s really pathetic.”
Watanabe says other male virgins practice judo throws so they can hurl their favorite gal to the ground, and a group of 50 club members went on a tour of Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district in the hope of picking up somebody off the streets – a fruitless search, as it turned out.
At least these guys had turned their attention toward the opposite sex. The association is divided into various factions, with the most hard-line virgins believing that love is only something for the world of anime and computer games. One hard-line member, whose fame comes from his claim to have once masturbated 136 times in a single day, elaborates.
“Love today is all something manufactured by the capitalist society. You’ve got ‘clothes for the popular guy’ and ‘stores for the popular guy’ everywhere, but for guys like me who hate spending money, the capitalist society labels us as ‘guys who can’t get love,'” the left-winger in the left field tells Shukan Josei. “There’s no way I’m gonna get suckered into that lifestyle.”
The sexless lifestyle isnâ€™t just for virgins anymore though:
Slow Life, Slow Sex: Sexless cure a matter of handiwork
Dr. Kunio Kitamura was born in 1951. He graduated from Jichi Medical School and through his 30 years of research, is now the “voice of Japanese sexuality.” Among his many books are “Shiawase no Sex (Happy Sex),” “Piru (The Pill)” and “Karada no Hon (The Body Book).”
I doubt whether the word “sexless” was publicly aired as much as it was during the past year. It was written up in newspapers and magazines and talked about on radio and TV. I can’t recall how many times I was asked to define sexlessness: a lack of consensual intercourse or sexual activity (kissing, petting or lying naked in bed) for at least one month without a special reason for not doing so.
At the same time, the average number of children a Japanese woman gives birth to over her life fell to an unprecedented low of 1.26. While the government realizes the need to create an environment where it’s easier to bring up children, it is doing so on the assumption that children are being born. In fact, they’re not. I have claimed that the low birthrate stems from widespread sexlessness.
It seems like yesterday I was having a quiet chuckle after being told by a pen pusher at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which is supposed to be tackling the low birthrate problem, that “‘People of Japan, Have Sex’ is not an appropriate government policy.”
My worries about sexlessness stem back a while. In 2001, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper polled 1,000 couples and found 28 percent were sexless. When we surveyed couples in 2004 as part of our research on the health and labor situation, we found 32 percent of couples were sexless. In December last year, a men’s magazine discovered that 40 percent of Japanese couples were not having sex.
Sexlessness is on the rise and the most frightening thing is the trend is not just confined to married couples.
Putting things simply, I’d hazard a guess to say the problem is the rapid decline in the ability to communicate between the sexes. When you consider the wooing process involved in talking somebody into the sack, sex clearly takes a lot of communication ability. This can be bothersome or brilliant, require some wonderful acting skills and require one to do this, that or the other to get what you want. Communication is vital in deciding whether you succeed.
Japanese men are turning off from their women like never before; and it would seem that the sexes in Japan are increasingly speaking two different languages. More and more J-Girls are looking for an American style Manginas to love and call their own (until they are bored with them and toss them to the side).
More and more J-Guys are looking for a traditional Japanese woman: kind, considerate, obedient, a good mother for their children, hard-working and willing to support him and his family as he gives his life for his corporation. Strangely though, Japanese men and women continue to revere Japanese tradition. They refuse, for now, to sully the institutions of marriage and parenthood as we have done in the West. And the Japanese are much too proud and reserved to have an all out Gender War. Call it… Trench Warfare. Men and women both, in the spirit of Yamato Damashii (the soul of Japan), are choosing to Ganbaru (keep going no matter what) and go their own way.
In the traditional Japanese character, both sides would rather commit glorious cultural suicide, than to lose face and totally debase their sacred traditions. And so, until the Cultural Marxism known as feminism is broken; the declining birthrate will continue unabated.
See you next month on the Honor Network!
For more of Mamonaku click: