Japanese government statistics show that half of all Japanese women aspire to live a life of leisure as full time housewives at their husband’s expense, with a dramatic increase in this aspiration evident amongst younger women.
The traditional notion that “the woman should stay at home and care for the children” is said to have been declining in popularity for many years, but surveys conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reveal the opposite trend appears to have taken hold of many women, especially those in their twenties.
In a national survey of some 13,000 participants conducted in 2008 and published recently, the attitudes of approximately 7,000 married women of all ages were analysed.
A total of 45% now agreed with the statement that “a husband should work outside, and a wife should devote herself to the home,” up from 41.1% in 2003. In 1993 the figure was 53.6%.
Most notable was the breakdown in ages – 47.9% of women under 29 now agreed with the notion that they should become housewives, an increase of 12.2% since the last time the survey was conducted.
Women in their thirties also agreed, up 7.6% to 41.7%, and those in their forties rose 6.6% to 39.8%. On the other hand, women in their fifties believing this dropped 2.5% to 42.3%, and those in their sixties dropped 4% to 57.2%.
The most favoured occupation amongst those surveyed was that of housewife, with 55.3%.
A charitable interpretation would be that Japanese women want increasingly to devote themselves to motherhood and the pleasures of raising a family.
Unfortunately for proponents of this view, a raft of statistics and ever lowering birth rates suggest an aversion to work and the leisure possibilities of home life less burdened than ever by domestic drudgery rather suggest an alternative interpretation.
Japanese men meanwhile seem less interested than ever in this uneven partnership – many would rather their wives work, others increasingly find their wages are too low to support a full-time housewife even had they a mind to, and a tiny but conspicuous minority even shun flesh and blood women in favour of the 2D alternative.