“Why Does Japan Still Have Housewives?”


In response to foreigners questioning their considerable backwardness, the Japanese have been pondering why it is so many of their women still aspire to and succeed in becoming housewives when the rest of the world is now enlightened enough to make both man and wife slave away at a workplace equally.

Overseas the more politically correct perceptions of housewives range from them being sad relics of patriarchal oppression to nothing more than workshy NEETs, and in many developed nations girls who aspire to full-time dependency and a large family would be quickly rushed to a career counsellor and given a handful of condoms.

In Japan however, many young women still earnestly aspire to remove themselves from the labour pool as soon as they can find a husband – although most of them evidently decide to forego the trouble of childrearing – and the nation boasts rates of female employment a staggering 4% lower than Germany (64%), and 6% lower than the US (66%).

Despite this love of home life most Japanese men surveyed seem to express a preference for their wives to remain employed, possibly a desire entwined with the peculiar institution of Japanese matrimonial finances, in which the wife receives her husband’s wages and then grants him a suitably small allowance.

An article describing how an unrepresentative sample of random foreigners mostly expressed pity for their archaic state of existence soon had Japanese themselves pondering why it is there are still so many housewives left in Japan, and why women apparently yearn to become them:

“Do they really want to work that much?”

“Overseas women do. They want to be recognised as such, unlike the ones in Japan.”

“Actually, doesn’t this have more to do with them not having any money for themselves if they don’t work? Only Japan has the custom of having the wife control the household’s finances completely.”

“Fewer housewives is sure to mean more divorces. If you have money and a job why would you put up with an annoying husband? You can live as you like.”

“I want to be a stay at home husband. I want to raise kids!”

“I don’t think I could stand all the lunch time chats with local mamas…”

“Who cares about that, spending time with my kids is what I want. It’s a shame I was born a man, paternity leave notwithstanding.”

“Don’t worry about it. In Tokyo there are loads of single mothers and fathers too. Part time worker house husbands are common as well.

“Try reading the blogs of some housewives – they really don’t get it at all. They complain about how hard it is as a housewife when they spend all day playing games, and then complain about husbands not doing an equal share of the chores despite them being housewives…”

“That’s not a housewife, that’s a NEET. If she’s a housewife she does all the chores and childrearing and he goes to work. There’s no need to for him to do chores.”

“Some idiots don’t grasp this. If you argue about it you’ll be accused of being out of step with the times or abusing your spouse.”

“I do it full time! It’s fun and I’m happy, my kids are cute and I always did enjoy housework and cooking.”

“I’m so envious of you…”

“With sacking people getting easier and easier in Japan, being a housewife is way too risky. The guy serving your ramen could have been working at a bank before he got sacked you know.”

“I used to be in charge of a department at a small magazine, and now I get turned down at the interview for a part time manual labour job at a warehouse…”

“All those girls at elementary school who were saying ‘in the future I want to get married and become a housewife!’ were basically just saying they never wanted to work, weren’t they?”

“But now more young women want to become housewives. It’s a good thing.”

“Is it really? Rather than have kids and make a family with two working parents, the ones who hope to become housewives just hang on and wait, so the average age of marriage gets even higher and the birth rate even lower. And they certainly seem to refuse to lower their expectations even when they are just looking to become dependants.”

“I really do not get all these women who graduate from university with the earnest desire to become housewives. What a waste of our taxes…”

“Right, and there are ones from Toudai and places who end up as housewives…”

“A UK think tank was saying 4 years ago that if Japanese housewives would actually work Japan’s GDP would increase 30%!”

“In the midst of deflation and high unemployment, do you think increases in the amount of labour are going to increase GDP?”

“A woman’s place is in the home. I think this is wisdom the human race has developed over thousands of years.”

“More like in a few tens of years in the case of full-time housewives.”

“At least from the Meiji period?”

“What? I thought all those women were out working in the fields, in factories, and in households?”

“Only the top aristocrats and merchants could ever afford to support housewives.”

“So, isn’t it really just the case that all these foreigners are just too poor to afford to keep a wife?”

“And jealous, no doubt.”

“Japs live different lives according to the gender of their birth. We can never hope to emulate the white masters.

“I think what you people mean is that these days nobody anywhere can afford to support a wife. Japan is just finding that out at present.”

“No way. Housewives are basically a post-war phenomenon in Japan. We never had them before and we’ve only had them for a few decades.”

“A woman working in a rice field can after all carry her infant on her back. Even now, in Touhoku and the like there are families with two breadwinners, and only in the cities can you find loads of housewives.”

“The real reason Japanese women are so keen on becoming housewives is because in Japan it is normal that ‘the woman controls the purse strings’ after marriage.

Overseas it is taken for granted that the man controls the family finances. A housewife who doesn’t work won’t have a penny of her own to spend, so naturally she wants to work herself.

I’d like to see the people who write these articles about Japanese women see how bizarre people overseas think it is for Japanese men to hand all their wages over to their wife every month and then be given an allowance of a few hundred dollars to spend themselves.”

“But wives do such a good job managing the money, I think it is a good thing.”

“Japanese housewives press a button on a rice cooker to make their husband’s bento, enjoy lunch at a family restaurant, then press another button on a washing machine, set the Roomba going and then go out and enjoy themselves. No wonder Japanese women want to become housewives.

Women overseas who aren’t really aware of just how pampered these women are and think more in terms of gender equality are left wondering why they aren’t more keen on working and buying things themselves…”

“Hardly surprising when Japanese housewives get all their husband’s money to use as they see fit. Elsewhere they’d just get something to cover their expenses.”

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    Comment by Anonymous
    20:11 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.7)

    For all this bitching and half-assed justificationism, reality is that female unemployment is only -6%.

    So, quite frankly, they're just a little behind the rest of the rest of the industrialized world. Noting really to make a fuss about.

    Avatar of Yamato
    Comment by Yamato
    01:48 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I was recently bringing this up in response to Tropes vs. Women in Video Games: in spite of Japan being such a "backwards" country (so says a lot of us westerners), they at least have the good sense to feature quite a few female protagonists in their games (and their animations, for that matter). Granted, a fair number of them act as moe eye-candy meant to reel in a primarily male audience regardless, but there are still quite a few more innocent examples ("innocent" in the sense that they're not blatantly provocative towards the opposite sex; moe potential is a moot point since fans of a certain franchise can and will sexualize just about anything).

    Hell, not counting Retro Studios (which is owned by Nintendo, and features characters originally made by Nintendo), the most prominent female character I could think of that came out of America-developed games is Lara Croft, and she herself started out as a sex symbol intended to pander towards pubescent boys. This is to say nothing of the crapload of shooters exclusively featuring buff, rugged dudes, the option to play as at least a female supporting cast nowhere in sight (and you know that ideal's fucked up when even your average Fist of the North Star game features a playable woman or two). And gamers really wanna say that Japan's the backwards country?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:43 20/12/2014 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why are housewives seen as a bad thing? It is the rest of the world that is backwards, not the areas with housewives.

    Comment by Dark Mage
    22:58 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    True 6% is pretty small.

    It also should be noted it's not black and white where you have to either be a stay at home or work a full time job.

    Someone can work a part time job while the kids are at a school.

    Avatar of takarada
    Comment by takarada
    18:58 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.7)

    They get to keep their husbands salary, of course they don't want to work.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:32 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Plus, if she's not at home all day as a housewife, how will she ever have the time to get pressured into sex by her husband's boss?

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:31 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    milk man

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:17 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Tofu driver, Bunta comes to your house to service your wife.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:45 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    It in Japan's case the Ramen man that comes around every night.

    Avatar of God
    Comment by God
    20:56 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Feminism is actually a brain-washing conspiracy of the big corporations to have more and cheaper labor available. Spread the word. Don't tell where you heard of this.

    Avatar of cats2
    Comment by cats2
    19:51 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Those Japanese comments..

    Is this 1920.....?

    Avatar of God
    Comment by God
    20:47 22/03/2013 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    I wish it was...

    Avatar of Ishmon16
    Comment by Ishmon16
    04:02 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why is God a Pikachu?

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:35 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    God cares not for your primitive mind's concepts of form.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:52 25/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Obviously it is because it fires lightning when upset.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:00 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    But he does have a particular affinity for Pokemon.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:16 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Because of reasons

    Avatar of Artist Rising
    Comment by Artist Rising
    05:07 23/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Ironically, the economy was better in 1920.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:08 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Indeed it was, until the stock market/casino economy supplanted the real economy and income/wealth inequality under "horse and sparrow" economics skyrocketed later in the decade. Sounds awfully familiar...

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:37 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    If it were 1920 there would be anything in this whole deal for the husband, but since there isn't anything positive for him whatsoever I have to answer your question with "No, it is not.".

    Comment by Anonymous

    As expected from an island of living fossils.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:29 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who is still in charge of the country!

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:17 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    The elderly.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:48 24/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've never understood why old people run the country. Experience my ass. More like ignorance. Most old people probably couldn't give a rat's arse about the rest of us since they're on the way out anyway.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:58 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    I don't see anything wrong with being a housewife as long as you do your JOB.

    Not taking care of kids, doing no "house" work and leeching off your husband is not a housewife. That is worse then being a NETT and your just putting too much pressure/stress onto your husband.

    Then again, we live in 21st century where Women joining the workforce is a norm for most countries.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:30 24/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Women hold up half the sky.

    -Chairman Mao

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:07 27/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fuck Chairman Mao.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:13 07/04/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    someone make an eroge about that, stat!

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:50 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Considering the kind of men they have in Japan, they should become house-husbands.

    Considering the kind of women they have in Japan, they should work. If you sleep around anyway, get paid for it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:48 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Been there done that...

    Japan is an awefully boring country to be a house husband... even in a big house...

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:08 27/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    This entire world is boring.

    Let's start another world war!

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:00 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think it's important to know the motivation behind wanting to be a housewife. I feel that if the person does it in the interest of the children, that's a lot different than someone that does it just to get out of doing "work." Someone that has no work ethic probably won't maintain the house well. And if you're not willing to get a job, how good can you be at raising kids? That takes a lot of work and patience. Kids are hard work.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:46 24/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Yeah. People just look at the surface, titles like "housewife" or what. But they don't look at the meaning behind that, such as the motivation.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:19 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I agree. I myself am a housewife (in the USA) and my JOB is the care of the house and children, making sure the bills get paid, and keeping the finances organized so that my husband can put his effort into his employment, heavy household maintenance, and being a good dad. just because I don't pull in a monetary income doesn't mean I don't have a job.

    Avatar of Myballz
    Comment by Myballz
    02:51 24/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Some Japanese women are smart enough to make sure house runs smoothly like a Business.Considering the cost of living is very high in that country.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:59 24/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    But it appears many japanese 'housewives' don't actually do that. They want all the positive aspects for themselves -controlling the money- and none of the labour or *hardship* of children either.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:43 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    My country (Thailand) have many family that children had been lifted by housemaid. Result is number of children in my country are addict to drug and involved with crimes as they find love and care from bad friends.

    I think Japanese new-mom desire of being housewife is good, it would make sure that children will be raise as moral adults. Every children need love and care from parents.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:14 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.8)

    In the U.S. most criminals and people with social dissorders come from fatherless households. Look it up if you dont believe me.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:47 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    No, most criminals come from being abused as children, actually abused. And no, not having a video game system or the like does not equate to being abused. I'm talking about physical (being beaten), mental (being told everything is their fault), and sometimes even sexual abuse. That's what causes most criminals. The rest are either victims of circumstance (growing up poor and having to steal type of thing) or are born with such things as sociopathism. Meaning they have no concsience and love causing pain.

    So, just because someone comes from a fatherless family, does not mean they turn into a criminal. Myself personally, as well as many other people have such a background, but are NOT criminals.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:17 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wrong, abused children grow up just like abused dogs, they fear society and other people. A person can be from a loving family and still grow up to be a criminal. You make it sound like all criminals should just be put in a mental institute instead of actually paying for thier crimes because "it's not thier fault." Most of the abused develop a strong sense of right and wrong, to make sure that what happened to them, doesn't happen to anyone else.

    Just today, in the news, a 17 year old, and 14 year old, walked up to a woman in broad daylight as she was walking with her baby. The boys demanded that she give them any money she had, and after they took it, they shot her in the leg, walked off 10 feet, then the 14 year old turned back around, put the gun to her baby's head, and killed it. Abused children, if they were going to do that, wouldn't do it out in the open day like that, they would be to self conscious about being seen.

    Now....what does any of this have anything to do with lonely Japanese housewives?

    Comment by Anonymous

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    But it is very useful for supporting your dated sexist rhetoric, isn't it?

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:51 24/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Correlation doesn't equal causation but it can't be dismissed as a possible influencing factor.

    Problem is most people just assume that everything can only have one cause.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:24 23/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    This is a pretty poor analysis. This is to assume that much of the families in Thailand can afford a housemaid. And a housemaid pretty much functions the same as a housewife. So how do you think a housewife would prevent these kids from being drug addicts and criminals?

    Comment by Dark Mage
    22:43 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Agreed the US has a high juvenile crime rate because kids are often left unattended since both parents are working.
    So called latch key kids are far more likely to do poorly in school, hang with a bad crowd and get into trouble.

    The low crime in Japan may be partly because one parent still spends time with the kids.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:01 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I heard so many case of child abuse by housemaid/kindergarten teacher in my country..

    So yeah, I think Japanese new-mom desire of being housewife is good idea.

    Avatar of Actar
    Comment by Actar
    21:30 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why have a child when you can't take responsibility for him/her? It's a crap comparison, but even from an early age, our parents refused to let us have a pet if we ourselves can't take care of it. So why is it a-ok for parents to chuck their kids at childcare centers or leave them to maids?

    Comment by Anonymous

    Learn to type proper English, Thai-chi.

    Comment by Anonymous

    I've never read nothing SO STUPID. Don't you study sociology in your country? Ha, what am i saying? That's the same stupid opinion many jerks have here in brazil. But we do not study sociology neither...

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:02 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Because they are the perfect targets for NTR anime/manga.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:25 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Your child is the messiah!"

    Poor Joseph!

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:45 22/03/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Fact: The husband being a carpenter increases chance of housewife birthing a messiah.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:14 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Being a Jew increases chance of finding unleavened bread lying randomly on the ground.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:22 22/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Poor farmers have high chance of being offered 2nd hand goods.

    Avatar of Benoist
    Comment by Benoist
    18:57 31/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    it wasn't his son, to begin with

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:25 22/03/2013 # ! Drivel (-0.8)

    "Your child is the messiah!"

    Poor Joseph!

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