Ruth Linhart | Japanologie

Rethinking Western Notions of Japanese Women: Some Aspects of Female Japanese Reality versus Stereotypes about Japanese Women

Women in the Western as well as in the Eastem sphere live in male-dominated societies which make neither men nor women happy. They live in societies which have to be changed, and this change has already begun. I would like to quote the Japanese feminist Ueno Chizuko, who pointed out the importance of a newly developing `women's world', of jo en or `woman-to-woman bonds' (Ueno, 1987:141; Asahi-Shinbun: 1987.4.23) for creating a better situation for women. Of the two strategies possible to liberate women - the masculinization of women and the feminization of men - she prefers the latter one (Ueno b, 1985:71) and I share her opinion. Ueno Chizuko seems to be convinced that for this task Japanese feminists are better equipped than their Western sisters, who emerge from individualism (Ueno a, 1987:112-128). This fact indicates that she also is not completely free from sterotypes, this time from the Japanese side against the Western part. In my short paper I want to point out Western stereotypes towards Japanese women. After comparing the Western and the Eastern situation, I would like to stress above all the aspect of rapid change in the situation of Japanese women or better, in the self-estimation of Japanese women.

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`Foreigners think that Japanese women are the most gentle, feminine and best women in the world. This is also the opinion of many Japanese when they reflect on the notions Westemers have of the Japanese,' writes Imai Yasuko (Imai I). She is a scholar who like Ueno Chizuko and other brilliant Japanese female intellectuals teaches at a women's junior college (Smith, 1987:12). Imai Yasuko, a specialist in Japanese literature, came into contact with the Western feminist movement during a stay in Vienna in 1976, when the movement was at its peak. She is very critical about the position of women in Japan but idealizes the Western situation of women. (I should mention that I also used letters from Japanese female friends for this paper as these individual voices often provide a very sensitive mirror of new developments.)

It is generally agreed that there are three kinds of Western stereotypes relating to Japanese women, held not only by ordinary people, but also by scholars.

Stereotype 1: The Japanese woman is the ideal woman, gentle, convenient, a `yes-person', as Agnes Niekawa, a professor of Japanese origins at the University of Hawaii, wrote in a letter (Niekawa I). This stereotype was not only spread by Western men but also by Japanese men in Japan to - as Imai Yasuko puts it - prevent their women becoming as strong as they think Western women are. On the other hand, the Japanese stereotype was and still is used in the West to demonstrate to Western women the epitome of feminity they should strive to emulate. Japanese cultural politics abroad and conservative Japanophiles also in the ranks of Japanology until today work together in holding up this bloodless notion of a Japanese female puppet.

So stereotype 1 is the conservative patriarchal image of the Japanese woman and at the same time a tool for bringing about the domestication of Japanese and Western women.

Imai Yasuko is convinced that most Japanese until this day have not recognized that in the West after 1945 and at the latest after the rising of the feminist movement in the seventies a new antithetical sight of the Japanese women has risen (Imai I).

Stereotype 2: This is indeed the other side of the coin of the idealized image loved by men. lt is used in a rather ungainly way by Western feminists as well as by Western Japanologists of the seventies and eighties, here in a more subtle and differentiated way, as they usually know more about the object of their criticism or compassion. This second stereotype identifies Japanese women as meek and submissive, at the service of men from morning to night, giving up or never having been able to pursue a life of their own - resigned absolutely (akirameru) to their lot in life.

This stereotype is the outcome of a thoroughly patriarchal and rather arrogant West-centred way of thinking. Western people like it because it demonstrates the superiority of Western civilization. Women like it because it is always good to have someone who is in a worse situation than oneself. Men like it because they can point to the poor Japanese women and stress the comparatively greater amount of freedom Western women are given by their men and masters. Western scholars and joumalists of both sexes who sympathize with the women's case hold on to the stereotype. They - including myself - are in danger of judging women's situation and position in society with male norms, internalized through many generations. By requesting that women act according to these norms they are in danger of separating real life from scholarly analysis, i.e. they construct theories about certain social contexts and neglect the fact that the women and men they use as their intellectual toys in the theories and papers they put forward, do in fact feel and act as diverse and ambivalent human beings - just like themselves the scholars. lt seems to me that a more subjective approach and at the same time more empathy towards the object of study, combined with traditional scientific methods and using objective data, could go a long way to avoiding the danger of stereotype-building.

Scholars and other people who hang on to the akirame stereotype, as I like to call it, take no, or at best very little, notice of the rapid changes in Japanese society. The generation gap between those women born or brought up after the war and their mothers and grandmothers is definitely greater than in the West. As regards social norms, what may be true for Japanese women socialized before or during the war, or immediately after, has to be examined anew in the case of their daughters and granddaughters. The second stereotype, therefore, is the, let us say, feminist image of the female Japanese masochist, also an output of an abstract outmoded and male-orientated way of thinking.

Stereotype 3: I would like to call it the sterotype of the almighty Japanese housewife, the ie-nushi stereotype.

This stereotype results from a reaction to the previous two. There is reason in it, as when Suzanne Vogel points to the fact that Japanese women are not economically but emotionally more independent than their American sisters (Vogel 1978:153 ff). One can also understand that Japanese women defend their position before the international community in stressing that Japanese women have power at home and are neither oppressed nor weak (Hoshii 1986:82). But this theory of the dichotomy of power in the Japanese family, of the outward dominance of the men and the inward unlimited power of women in the home (Hoshii 1986:81) is on a very weak base. I quote Robert Smith (1987:19-20): 'The man commits himself to providing for his family, the woman to maintaining a comfortable home for them all. But, be it noted, when push comes to shove, the power of the male proves infinitely greater than that of the female. The brutal fact is that should a husband decide to withdraw financial support, the carefully crafted career and vaunted domestic authority of the professional housewife will fall to ruins. The autonomy of the married woman is wholly contingent. What has been said for the United States is perhaps even truer for Japan: most women are only one man away from poverty.'

The image of the almighty professional housewife or sengyô-shufu is of course a counter-attack of Western and even more of Japanese patriarchalism and capitalism to flatter women in their position and keep them upright as the pillars of the system.

This is stressed all the more as men are `shaking with fear' (Smith, 1987:8) being confronted with the threat of Japanese women breaking out of their strict role-specialization. Because, as I put it in an article some years ago, Japanese women have a fourfold role in sustaining the Japanese economic miracle: 1. They restore the working-power of Japanese men as housewives and hostesses or mama-san; 2. They are used as a reserve army for the labour market and as managers of Japanese agriculture; 3. They educate the next generation in a way that is entirely congruous to the system; 4. They function as consumers who are responsible for the flourishing state of the Japanese economy. (Linhart 1982:VIII-IX.)

Maybe Japanese women were still resigned to these roles in 1982 when I wrote the article quoted above. But from a retrospective viewpoint, I believe that the `pillars' were already shaking at that time.


Stereotypes of Japanese women include the assumption that basic differences exist between East and West. In German one can express this view with the word `Mentalität' - mentality - which stresses the biological versus socially-defined differences. I feel rather uncomfortable with this approach, because it offers a logical progression towards sexism, racism and all its consequences. I do think that the basic position from which Japanese and Western women start their life-cycle is the same, in other words, that the fundamental enclosure in a patriarchal net of thoughts puts Western and Japanese women in a similar situation. There are, of course, social and cultural differences to be taken into account but above all emotional differences. Many of these differences are founded on `ideologies'. Ideologies concerning the life of Japanese women are different and often even incompatible to those of Western women, whereas in reality they are similar.

To support this statement I want to quote Takie Sugiyama Lebra, who writes in her book Japanese Women - Constraint and fulfilment (1984:295): 'It is not that the Japanese individual always bends her personal will to social expectations and pressures... The point is, whether in accepting or rejecting a social demand, one's decision or action is coded in such a way as to reflect some aspects of 'social structure' or the 'role' which one is supposed to play.'

And, she continues, whereas the American woman presents herself as a free decision-maker, however restrained her life may actually be, the Japanese woman portrays her life as one which is beyond her control. The difference, Lebra states, lies not in the experience but in the cultural coding of the experience
(Sugiyama Lebra 1984:295-296). 1)

I would like to mention an example which in my eyes clearly shows the influence of socially expected coding in the answers of an opinion poll: In 1982, answers to the question `who in the family is responsible for final decisions' were compared from respondents of different countries. Among participants from Japan, USA, Sweden, West Germany, Great Britain and the Philippines, the Japanese most clearly named the husband. 66% said the man made the final decisions, in Sweden only 12%. As regards joint decisions, the figure in Sweden was 76%, in Japan 13% (Yuzawa 1987:79.)

But surely one has to be very careful in interpreting these answers. In Japan, for example, there is less `partnership' in actual life than in Sweden, but not to the extent suggested by the survey! In Japan it is very important to show publicly what Lebra calls, the `status assymetry' (Sugiyama Lebra 1984:301) whereas in Sweden the norms are contrary. This fact will surely influence the answers in an opinion poll. On the other hand, that a Japanese wife in 83% of all cases controls the money in the family (Yuzawa 1987:79) could be superficially interpreted as a contradiction of the `decisions' poll above. But these figures do not say that the Japanese wife is the powerful ie-nushi. We only have an example how far interpretations could diverge, because the result of the poll could also show that the Japanese wife is serving her husband in more aspects than the Western one: apart from other duties, she is also the book-keeper.2)

To support the statement that there are many similarities in the external facts of female life between West and East in law, school, work etc., I would like to quote Eleanor Smeal, president of the National Organization of Women (NOW) in the USA. In her keynote-speech at the 1985 Asahi International Symposium in Tokyo she said (Smeal, 1985:33): 'But one of the things I did want to emphasize is that I did feel that both in the United States and Japan there are many similarities about discrimination.'3) She then gives details about, for example, the number of women in elected positions, wage-differentials, the law which forbids sex-segregation and its consequences, feminization of poverty etc. Also, if you compare some of the facts and figures from my country, Austria, with those of Japan you will discover that differences are astoundingly small. Let me take the example of work. Although both countries have laws for equal opportunities in the labour-market they are not very successful in bettering women's actual situation. In 1984 41% of Austrian workers were women, in Japan in 1985 this figure was 40%. In 1983, the female labour-force in Austria was 57% and in Japan it was 49% in 1984. In 1984, 22% of Japanese women worked part-time, in Austria in 1983 20% of women workers were part-timers. In Japan in 1984 the `era of the working wife' (Ohori 1985:174 ff) began with a figure of 51.3% of all married women at work. In Austria this figure has always been around 50%. The wage gap in both countries is around 50% (but in Japan nearer to 60 %.)4)

Leaving figures aside, there seem to exist similar problems for women, rising from the same life-circumstances in Japan and Austria. There is the same wish to work and combine this with fulfilling family-duties, and the same lack of time and poor recompense for female efficiency. Differences exist mainly in degree and are to be found in the `internal' aspects of life - in the so-called private life, in psychological motivations and emotions.

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As regards differences, I shall use a 1980 opinion poll that shows the different family ideologies in 13 countries. One question was, if married, should women be active in society? The result does not match with the stereotypes and is rather surprising.

In Japan, slightly more than 50% agreed that married women should be involved in society which was more than in the USA, Australia, West Germany and France. But when it came to the question of agreeing or opposing divorce, Japan polled the smallest percentage of support for divorce (Keizai Keikakucho 1986:66). Again, the basic circumstances of life are defined by male norms in both Japan and the West. But trends and developments concerning life-planning and life-circumstances are worldwide and the international economy affects all countries and influences all spheres and aspects of life, including the most private ones. These international pressures and influences have begun to undermine the traditional means by which the Japanese patriarchal society has sustained a long tradition of confining women to a particular role in society which is for the convenience of men.

These traditional means are: the pressure of conformity is stronger, the role-specialization is more dictatorial, the sanctions in Japan are harder and the role-personality gap is wider. The ways in which the status-assymetry is sustained are isolation of the sexes, the concept of akirame and the force in case of non-conformist behaviour towards marriage and children as well as the strict disapproval of divorce.

Concerning isolation, let me quote again from Sugiyama Lebra (1984:302): 'Polarization by segregation is inherent in the structural embeddedness of sex-roles in that sexual intimacy is inhibited by the public nature of sex-roles.'

Men do not have the opportunity to get to know women as equal human beings. They can only cope with women within their roles - as mothers, wives, hostesses and so forth, who are responsible for the erotic aspects of life (maybe you have noticed that Japanese men usually do not flirt with other women) and in the working place as tea cup carriers. The only way men can manage the confrontation with career women, therefore, is to treat them as males and rob them of their female identity. This behaviour can also be seen in other countries, but it is surely the case that Japanese men show more ignorance concerning their attitude to female colleagues than do their colleagues in Western countries.

Combined with the isolation of the sexes there has also been much isolation between women in the course of Japan's industrialization and urbanization and this has been, as Ueno Chizuko says, one of the main causes of women's oppression (Ueno a 1987:137-138).

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There is one more difference which I would like to mention, a difference between Japanese and Western women, which could be a very crucial one. The emotional aspects in life-planning have been sublimated or suppressed for a rather long time in Japan. Marriage was too important to the continuation of the Japanese social system to be left to individual choice. Of course this fact was also true for the West, but `the release of marriage to romantic love' (Luhmann 1984:186) happened in the West in the nineteenth century. Marriage in Japan was traditionally the only means by which a Japanese woman could prepare for herself a stable economic base with the circumstances of marriage defined not by her individual will but by social structure. Prior to World War II and the early post-war years, there was hardly any way out of this pattern. It would appear that Japanese women have been conditioned to rationalize their life-planning options within certain parameters for such a long time that they still tend to repeat the pattern also in the case of renai-kekkon (love-marriage).

However, the traditional attitude towards marriage seems to give Japanese women an advantage in comparison with their Western sisters. As Simone de Beauvoir defines love, it is not the same for both sexes. For men love is one activity in life, for women it means self-abandonment (Beauvoir 1965:119). There is the saying, if a woman loves she loves always, a man has to do something in between (Luhmann 1984:204). The man loves to love, the woman loves the man. Love is for the Western woman combined with a similar effect to the Japanese concept of akirame, finding happiness in resignation. There is the Japanese stereotype of the strong emancipated Western woman, who egocentrically pushes through her wishes. But in reality Western culture uses the challenge of selfabandonment in love to domesticate women. In Japanese society women should find their happiness in living altruistically for others, a European woman has to do everything for the people she loves, including giving up her life-plans concerning work or a profession. Love is a subjective, individual emotion, but the object is another person, and it can end up in the same suppression of personal individual endeavours as in Japan, where women serve their men directly without the detour or distractions of love. So, in a word, Japanese women do not have to love romantically nor give the impression that they do, when they meet a marriage-partner.5)

They do not have to cling to or at least pretend a great emotion as a pre-condition for living with a man. They use the word renai, love, when speaking about renai-kekkon, but they mean something different to what their sisters say in the West. It means that they have their marriage not arranged by their families or friends. They are allowed to plan very rationally with the help of books and magazines to find the approriate partner for a love-marriage (but not for love!)

The truth is that the pressure for marriage and against divorce is still stronger in Japan than in the West. But it is also true that in Japan and in the West marriage is still used as an insurance for the economic safety of women. The advantage Japanese women have in their development towards freedom is exactly the fact that - speaking in a very general way - they are not deeply emotionally bound to their men and that the vision of romantic love is not a norm they have to make true or strive for during their lives. So they seem to be emotionally less dependent. Naturally, they are rather dependent on their husbands as regards fin ancial matters. Japanese women's situation in this respect is similar to the one of middle-aged and older women in Europe. There is no way left for them to become completely economically independent any more. Shall they despair because of this? Of course economic independence is one pillar of freedom - but not the only one, and Japanese women, many of them, try vigorously to make the best out of their situation.


Stereotypes are static. Which applies equally to those concerning Japanese women. I shall now consider the position of women in 1987, therefore, and attempt to discover how far it has moved away from the stereotypes. My main focus will be on that of akirame or stereotype 1 and what I call yamato nadeshiko or stereotype 2.

`Not only the young generation but in the last five to six years the situation of Japanese women as a whole has changed,' writes Imai Yasuko (Imai II) and thereby confirms my assumption that young Japanese women generally with their high level of education, and not just from the urban middle class as I believe, have gained a considerable amount of self-confidence, energy, ambition and courage. Imai Yasuko tells us also about female co-patients in a hospital from different social strata. The middle aged and the older ones could not possibly imagine old age without having their own children looking after them. Security in old age is one of the main reasons for marriage. But two-thirds of the 31-year old co-patient's acquaintances of her age had not yet married. Imai writes: `The Japanese are a very realistic nation. As soon as women recognize, and they have already started to recognize this, that they can earn money for living, clothes and provision for old age without linking it with the pressure to marry, they will strive for a life of their own' (Imai II). Belonging herself to the generation of 50-year-olds, Imai Yasuko has been one of the rare women who 30 years ago decided to reject arranged marriage (miai) and to live for her work. In a 1986 edition of her college's newspaper she recommends her young students not to let themselves be pushed into marriage by elders and friends (Imai 1986:7-9). These individual thoughts and notions of Imai Yasuko fit well into a social surrounding where questioning marriage, a rising number of hikonsha and mikonsha, women who do reject or postpone marriage, and of divorces provoked by women, are a topic of the time. It seems that regarding women, the tentative steps taken in the early 1970s would gradually gather speed. In the seventies, as a result of higher education, the needs of the labour-market and the international feministic movement women streamed out into society. Now the economy does not need women to such a degree any longer, but it does not look as if women are prepared to return willingly into their homes again.

This change of attitude is shown very clearly in the following opinion-poll. The question was: `What do you think about the notion that the husband works outside and the wife looks after the family?' In 1972 83% of the women polled agreed with this division of labour, in 1984 only 49%. But this change comes out even clearer when you look at the university graduates: in 1972 76% gave their consent, 1984 only 36%. Men did not change their opinion so much in these 12 years. Whereas in 1972 84% agreed, in 1984 some 63% still held the same view (Keizai Keikakucho 1985:178-179). Times have changed, but even more so have women's attitudes and I will support this statement with two examples: The first is the moratorium on marriage. This international trend against marriage or towards later marriage is also proved by statistics on Japan: `After peaking in 1971, Japan's marriage rate fell continuously to an all-time low of 6.1 marriages per 1000 persons in 1985. The average age for a first marriage increased steadily during the same period, from 26.8 for men and 24.2 for women in 1971 to 28.2 for men and 25.5 for women in 1985. Reflecting the fact that growing numbers of women are pursuing higher education and entering the work force, the percentage of women in their twenties and early thirties who are unmarried is rising and this trend is fuelling the decline in the marriage rate. Japan's divorce rate climbed steadily from 1963 to 1983 (Foreign Press Centre 1987:16).

From dates in the Statistical Yearbook of Japan one can compare the rising number of unmarried women from 1950 to 1985. Among the 25-to 35-year-old women their percentage doubled. The percentage of women who never married also doubled between 1970 and 1985 from 2 to 4.5% (Statistics Bureau, Japan Statistical Yearbook). Furthermore, the percentage of women who think of marriage as the best life-alternative for their sisters, has declined from 36% in 1972 to 30% in 1984. And whereas in 1972 only 7% said it was better not to marry at all because marriage hampered women's freedom, in 1984 24% said so and were of the opinion that not to marry at all would be the best decision (Yuzawa 1987:73). In 1982 24% of the 30- to 34-year-olds among unmarried women said they would never marry, and if you compare men and women from the age group of 18 to 34, 4% of the unmarried women but only 2% of the unmarried men stated that they would never marry (Yuzawa 1987:73).

Yoshihiro Kiyoko has written a book with the title Hikon jidai and did a series of interviews with unmarried women. `Despite the social stigma attached to the unmarried their numbers have been increasing in recent years´ (Yoshihiro 1987:305). She interprets the trend of women to refuse marriage as an expression of their will not to give up their job and of their fear to be obliged to live with the husband's parents and, in due course, to produce children. Women who are married already have become increasingly disappointed with their married life.

Tanabe Seiko wrote in an article in Chûô Kôron in June 1987 about a `feminine revolt against uncaring egocentric spouses,' that the discontent of the wives is aired in popular women's magazines, that numerous letters from women who are turned off marriage appearing in the press suggest an epidemic of disaffection and that she, herself, having been born in 1928, thinks that many unloved women will end the charade and walk out. The shockwaves are potentially more traumatic than Japan's defeat in World War II, she thinks. `Many women have given up on finding personal fulfilment in the marital relationship. The pampered emotional eunuchs they have for mates don't even realize the marriage is collapsing. When the inevitable blow-up occurs, the perplexed husband will wonder: "What's got into her?"' (Tanabe 1987:4).

Women's opposition to the pressure on marriage and their growing discontent with their partners seems not to have broken but strengthened their self-confidence. In a 1958 poll only 27% of women said that they wanted to be born as women, 64% would have preferred to be a man, but in 1983 only 39% preferred this alternative and 56% were glad to be born as women (Kato 1986:96).

Growing discontent and more self-confidence is continuously changing the attitude to akirame. In an Asahi Newspaper series of April and May 1987 based on an opinion-poll of more than 2000 women who were asked what they would like best if they could freely choose their activities outside the family, there were key-words: suki (like), tanoshii (pleasant), jiyü (independence) (Asahi Shinbun 1987.5.2). This does not sound like resignation but like a very human longing for a happy life.

According to the Asahi newspaper poll, the trend out into society which typically takes two routes - in a job and in women's groups in their spare time - depends mainly on age and education. The era of the oku-san, the woman inside the house, or of the sengyô-shufu, the professional housewife, seems to have come to an end.

This trend of women leaving their homes, first into women's groups and later on into the labour market, very often as part-timers, does not include entry into male society as equal partners and approved of by men. Maybe one could call it an individual endeavour to make life worthwhile. Women do not in general seek their husband's help but lean emotionally towards other women.

In the women's groups they build up their self-confidence and an infrastructure to enable them to start working. They help each other with shopping, child-care, care of the elderly etc. Even after having started work, despite the limitations on their time, they do not want to give up these contacts. They are with women who are in a similar situation to themselves and from whom they get the human warmth they miss in their marriage-partners. For the first time they can speak honestly about their problems, for the first time somebody listens wholeheartedly to what they have to say.

It seems that the change that is taking place does not mean that women are wishing to push themselves into the man's world; yet they are trying to create a world of their own beside or behind the man's world. Women recognize their own wishes and feelings and the younger generation especially has the courage to express them. This might be a first step towards shaking the foundations of patriarchally-defined society.


Stereotypes are one-dimensional and never able to reflect the whole truth but are only a small part of it. Common stereotypes about Japanese women will take time to be demolished despite the fact that, increasingly, such stereotypes bear little resemblance to reality. That is so, because they serve the interests of powerful groups in society. If you try to describe the reality of Japanese women's situation today none of the three stereotypes discussed is of any help. Japanese women are not the idyllic soft, meek and passive females the stereotypes project, and they are certainly not almighty superwomen either. They are not concerned about living according to an image other men and women have built up around them, and in actual fact these men and women do not really care how their stereotypical women live in real life.

Coming to stereotype 3, which deals with the power of men and women, it has to be said that as far as women's everyday life is concerned, power is not the problem. It is not an essential question for women whether or not they have structural or private power. Power is a patriarchal norm. Generally speaking, what women strive for is not power but happiness, a life filled with a combination of self-fulfilment and human warmth, and the possibility to give and take.6)

'Anyway, these younger people seem to be more aware of their rights to pursue happiness than their mothers and grandmothers, who never thought in terms of rights, but only in terms of obligations. These young people seem to be hedonistic, and have a stronger sense of the "self",' Agnes Niekawa judges in a letter (Niekawa I). The 30-year-old unmarried niece of Imai Yasuko writes: 'The most important thing for Japanese women is to achieve a grown-up and fully-developed consciousness. Then we can change our situation for the better' (Shimizu I).

Although a growing percentage of women do not marry, the largest group of Japanese women seem to strive very actively for the following life-goals:

  1. An economic base and financial security by marriage.
  2. Self-fulfilment not only as a mother but as a shakai jin (a person of use to society) by work and social activities, be it volunteer work, the consumer movement, community-work, women's groups or hobbies.
  3. Friendship, solidarity and recognition.
These latter two trends can also be seen in the Western hemisphere. Differences exist regarding point 1, as I have tried to show.

Japanese women are not resigned, passive people; they are energetically using their life for a great variety of activities. Here again, they differ from men. All in all, the differences between patriarchal norms and the real world women inhabit seem to be greater than those regarding the situation of Western and Japanese women.


1) Continuing in the same vein, Lebra asks: "What is experience other than coding?" This is a very philosophical question; to me it seems that experience is more than coding. But above all there is the dangerous fact that many people take the code for reality. Moreover, to stress the life-coding concept of akirame (happiness through resignation) means to hold Japanese women longer in their passive role and to take no notice that there is a young generation growing up which is gradually and very cautiously beginning to code in a different way.
2) The fact that in 1984 one-third of all Japanese driving licences were owned by women must not be used in a naive way as proof of female emancipation (Hoshii 1986:82). Women could just as well use the licence (which they do very often) to drive their husbands around and therefore in addition to the other jobs as housekeeper, book-keeper etc. there is also the function of "chauffeur".
3) When you read the 12 October 1987 issue of Time with the cover story "Are women fed up? A hotly disputed American report says yes - and that men are to blame," the impression is given that in emotional aspects also the trend is the same in the United States as in Japan.
4) For the facts and figures about Austria and Japan I used the following sources:
Ohori 1985:175; Foreign Press Center, Summary of Actual Labour Market for Women 1985;
Moritz, Michaela, Bericht über die Situation der Frau in Österreich, Frauenbericht 1985, Band 3, 9-26.
5) Luhmann 1984:191: "Soziologisch gesehen, dürfte dieser Unterschied der Infektion mit romantischer Liebe bei Mann und Frau auch damit zusammenhängen, dass der soziale Status des Mannes sich durch eine Ehe normalerweise nicht ändert, so dass der Mann sich romantischen Impulsen eher überlassen kann, während die Frau mit der Ehe auch über ihren künftigen Status entscheidet und deshalb eher Anlass hat, durch Nebenerwägungen zu kontrollieren, mit wem sie den Ausflug ins Land der Romantik unternimmt." Luhmann indicates that in the West also women control their "romantic love" by ratio-dominated motivations.
6) See Marylin French, Jenseits der Macht (Beyond Power: On Women, Men and Morals, Summit Books, New York 1985), p. 870: "Das Leiden gehört zum Leben; Trauer und Entbehrung lassen sich nicht vermeiden. Dies gilt für alle Kreaturen. Dennoch ist es möglich, das eigene Leben am Glück und nicht an der Macht zu orientieren. Dies aber ist feministische Moral."
Asahi-Shinbun 1987.4. - 1987.5., Ryôte o hirogeta shufutachi 1-9.
Beauvoir, Simone de, Das andere Geschlecht, eine Deutung der Frau, Rowohlt-Verlag, Hamburg 1965, translated by Eva Rechel-Mertens and Fritz Montfort.
Foreign Press Center Japan, Summary of the actual labour market for women, 1985.
Foreign Press Center Japan, Facts and Figures of Japan, 1987.
French, Marylin, Jenseits der Macht - Frauen, Männer und Moral, Rowohlt-Verlag, Hamburg 1985, translated by Cornelia Holfelder von der Tann (French Marylin, Beyond Power. On Women, Men and Morals, Summit Books, New York 1985).
Hoshii, Iwao, The World of Sex, Vol. I, Sexual Equality, Paul Norbury Publications, Woodchurch 1986.
Imai Yasuko, Letters, I:1987.6.20, II:1987.9.15, 111: 1987.11.6
Imai Yasuko: Onna no nenrin (4), in: Tachibana, Shizuoka-joshitankidaigaku-kokubungakkai-kaihô nr. 5, p. 7-9.
Keizai Keikakuchô, Shôwa 60 nenkan kokumin seikatsu hakusho, Tokyo 1985.
Keizai Keikakuchô, Shôwa 61 nenkan kokumin seikatsu hakusho, Tokyo 1986.
Kato Harueko, Japanese women today, beyond the "double-family-ideology", Kwansei Gakuin University Annual Studies, Vol. RXXV, p. 93-99, Nishinomiya 1986.
Linhart, Ruth, Ihr Aussteigen bedeutet den Ruin, in: Wunderland Japan: Was macht es zum Wirtschaftsriesen? Arbeiterzeitung (AZ Journal), 1982.3.5.
Luhmann, Niklas, Liebe als Passion. Zur Codierung von Intimität, Suhrkamp-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1984.
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Published first in: Adriana Boscaro, Franco Gatti & Massimo Ravieri (Ed.), Rethinking Japan Social Sciences, Ideology & Thought, Volume II, Japan Library, Sandgate, Folkestone, Kent, 1990, p. 164-174.
The book contains papers of the symposium "Rethinking Japan" which took place at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the University of Venice from 14-16 October 1987.

Put on the internet in October 2005

Ruth Linhart | Japanologie | Texte Email: ruth.linhart(a)