Inequality for Women and Men in Japanese Society

by Misato Okumura

In general, people all over the world say our inequality between women and men are remarkable in Japanese society. This is true. For example we have a little number of female CEOs or any kinds of head of firms, and a lot of Japanese mothers quit their job and stay home when they got their children. Some people don’t quit their job even if they have small kids but the mothers need to do both house and care work and actual work at a company. And most working women are not satisfied with their working conditions and change or quit their jobs. The way to solve this problem is not only offering more works for them and getting them promotions more easily. This is not that easy. For example, if they get them more promotions, it makes them more difficult to leave their job and it will be more burdens for women who have their children at home because they need to do both jobs. Moreover, this is not a disadvantage only for women. It is also unfair for the fathers to spend less time with their children than the mothers do. Then how can we change this structure?

Before we think about this question, I would like to analyze how the structure of Japanese society creates this inequality. I think we have 3 characteristics which influence on this. They are the lifetime employment system, lack of kindergartens and decreasing birthrate and aging population. These problems don’t let us leave the inequality.

First, the lifetime employment system makes it easier for women to leave their jobs. In this system, people can work till they become 60 years old once they got hired. But also, they need to stay working for the company as long as possible to get promotion. This system is not applied to women. So if they need money, men need to work and women need to take care of children at home.

Then what if mothers want to go working rather than to stay home and raise up their children? Basically, they leave their kids at the kindergarten during their working. But this is difficult because we don’t have a lot of kindergartens in each community and almost no kindergarten at company. To make the matter worse, some people don’t have enough money to leave their kids there.

Moreover, our society is aging and losing young people every year. The number of elder people is increasing every day. And these people think that women should stay home to do care work and men should earn enough money to take care of this family. In short, the number of people who have this idea is huge. This makes it difficult to share care work between women and men.

In conclusion, Japanese unique social structure has created an inequality between women and men. I think we need to establish more public kindergartens and hire more teachers and to make the opportunity to let elder people and young people share and understand their ideas in order to change our social structure.

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