by Robert Moorehead
On June 4th, the Japan Times took a bold step in favor of women’s rights by demanding that Japanese society make it easier for women to balance work and family. In its editorial, the newspaper rightly notes that many Japanese women (86% of those surveyed) would like to work and raise their children, but find balancing the two almost impossible.
So, the Japan Times, in all its enlightened wisdom, advocates a “cool modern” solution (to borrow Arlie Hochshild’s term): companies and the government need to make it easier for women to work both jobs.
“In simple terms, women need to leave the workplace to pick up their kids from school and daycare centers, and take care of them at home. Several hours of childcare will not interfere with total working hours if companies find ways to accommodate their female employees.”
What’s missing from this discussion? Men. The words “men” or “fathers” don’t even appear in the article.
“The future will demand more responsiveness in all areas of organization [except from men, who are incapable of picking up their children from school and daycare centers]. For Japan to move forward both economically and socially, companies must organize themselves in new ways [just as long as women still have the entire responsibility of taking care of the children].”
“The answer to the famous question ‘What do women want?’ is clear — to work. [And what do men want? They also want women to work! At home! At school! At work!]” Besides, who wants dad picking up the kids from daycare? They get in the way of his after-work drinking sessions, and he can’t take them with him to the hostess bar … unless he gets the hostess to be his babysitter … Ah, a Japanese twist on the old solution to men avoiding raising their children? Filipinas get to be both hostesses and domestic workers at the same time?
Seriously, the Japanese economy could meet much of its future employment needs by opening its workforce up to the better half of its population. But simply adding a second shift onto Japanese women’s already busy days isn’t a solution.