Gender Roles In Japanese Society – We don’t need to think about gender roles anymore – the importance of a genderless work style that goes beyond masculinity and femininity InsightsEssays: Civil Society in Japan Voices from Other Topics

In 2018, the Japan NPO Center () launched a news and commentary site called NPO CROSS to discuss the role of NPOs/NGOs and civil society as well as social issues in Japan and abroad. We post articles contributed by various stakeholders, including NPOs, foundations, companies, and volunteer writers.

Gender Roles In Japanese Society

Gender Roles In Japanese Society

For this English site, we select some translated articles from NPO CROSS to introduce to our English-speaking readers.

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We no longer need to think about gender roles – the importance of a genderless work style that transcends masculinity and femininity.

At the end of 2020 there was a petition drive to change the name of the Japanese convenience store giant, Family Mart’s own brand of pre-cooked meals, known as “Mother Cafeteria”, due to an apparent bias. I am one of the people who signed the petition.

The issue was raised by a female high school student who participated in the Girl Scouts of Japan. She warned of gender consciousness in Japan as a whole, saying, “It’s not just the mother who cooks.” In some families, fathers prepare meals and couples share housework. The Mom’s Cafeteria brand name is not only biased against women, but also against the men who attend at home.

Japan is a country where there is a strong fixation on gender roles, where men work and women do housework. It also has an impact on the work environment in Japan. I myself have seen and experienced cases where paternity leave is difficult for men, and where married women are not promoted to management positions because of family priority.

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The current situation in Japan is that men are not encouraged to take parental leave and women are discouraged from advancing their careers because of these gender stereotypes.

However, I believe that if we eliminate gender stereotypes, many things can be done by anyone regardless of gender. If we can get rid of gender stereotypes and create a genderless work style that transcends masculinity and femininity, Japan will become a society where everyone can live more comfortably.

In response to this situation, Natsuko Hagiwara, a professor at the Graduate School of Rikyu University, is involved in the Fifth Basic Plan for the Development of Women-Friendly Cities and Gender Equality. We interviewed Professor Hagiwara about the various issues caused by the perception of gender roles in Japan and the importance of gender-neutral work styles.

Gender Roles In Japanese Society

She recalled, “I was surprised to see the results of the survey. When asked, ‘Why do you think there are so few female principals in schools?’, one first-grader replied, ‘Because men are better.’ “

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Hagiwara said she was at a loss for words when she realized that many children, including those in the lower grades, believed that their roles differed based on their biological sex, not their individual abilities. according to There is still a lot of gender inequality in Japan where gender socialization takes place and unconscious gender bias takes root as early as elementary school. Hagiwara emphasized the importance of gender education for all generations, saying, “The gender awareness of teachers, parents and other adults around us is reflected in our children.”

According to the 2020 edition of the White Paper on Gender Equality, while the ratio of male to female participants in housework is 1:1 when they are unmarried, this ratio is higher for women after marriage. increases approximately 2.5 times for Men are also told that “men should work instead of staying at home,” or “It is better for children if women are left to housework and childcare,” and there are many cases where Companies limit their participation at home. These are also factors that contribute to “single parenting”. Thus, when parents create a family environment where men work and women do housework, children unconsciously perceive the division of gender roles.

It is clear that there are gender differences in the work environment as well. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act, enacted in 1985, gave Japanese women equal opportunities to enter the workforce. However, the percentage of Japanese women in full-time work is still less than 50% (as of 2019), and the wage gap between men and women is still very large, with an increase in “part-time work”. With that targeting women. Can’t work full eight hours. In addition, the percentage of women in managerial positions is less than 10% because of the so-called “mommy track”, which makes it difficult for working women who are married or have given birth to promotions and Get an upgrade.

In 2020, the economic impact of COVID-19 highlighted the problems that the employment situation and low income are causing for young women and single mothers in Japan. The number of female suicides in November 2020 has increased by 40 percent compared to the same month of 2019.

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Hagiwara said, “By reforming the structure to allow both men and women to take maternity and childcare leave, it will be easier to close the wage gap between men and women, as well as promotion and pay. In addition, it is important for men and women to be aware and take responsibility for housework and childcare, rather than just helping out. Above all, it is necessary. Men should be trained from an early age to encourage active participation in household chores.

The pandemic has rapidly changed the way people work, creating a telework system and creating an environment where it’s easy to take time off. According to the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Survey, the percentage of married men and women who answered that they wanted to have children increased to 30.5% from 21.3% last year, and one reason is that men are participating. There are many opportunities for babysitting

As one swims, the government last December began considering “giving men childcare leave” and “creating maternity leave for men before and after childbirth.” This law is a measure to overcome the current situation where the number of employees taking childcare leave is not increasing despite the environment being such that it can be taken regardless of gender.

Gender Roles In Japanese Society

In addition to the legal system, the Japanese government is promoting a work culture so that both men and women can more easily balance work and family life, which not only eliminates the idea of ​​gender roles, but may also improve fertility rates. In Meiji Yasuda’s Life Insurance Survey.

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At the same time, there are problems in recruiting for companies. Professor Hagiwara also emphasized, “If we do not provide additional financial compensation, small and medium enterprises will face a shortage of work.” It will be necessary not only to introduce the system, but also to provide additional financial support for companies.

Think about it. Before you know it, you’ve been influenced by gender stereotypes, and you’ve either given up and said, “It can’t be helped,” or your behavior has been limited because you’re a man (or woman). However, there are men who are good at housework, women who are not good at housework, men who cannot drink alcohol, women who want to work hard, men who want to change the family name. , and women who want to protect their families. the name

Last year, Japan was ranked 121 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Index, which shows social and cultural differences between men and women. This was the lowest result. Additionally, in an assessment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to create a sustainable society where “no one is left behind”, Japan ranks 17th out of 166 countries (in fiscal 2020 ), and this goal is addressed. 5, “Gender equality” has not been achieved. In both cases, the lack of participation of women in the decision-making process and the lack of adjustment in the wage gap between men and women are major factors of “women’s poverty”.

“The issues that women face are also an indication for men to make their lives easier,” said Hagiwara. “Creating a corporate culture that takes gender equality into account and promoting work style reforms will help ‘no one.’ “No Left Behind” policy and create a society where all people, young and old, men and women, people with disabilities and LGBT people can live comfortably. Living without sex, which I raised at the beginning of this article, encouraging men to enter the home and women’s political and economic spheres. The result will be a society where everyone can live and work well.

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To achieve this goal, I believe that the first step towards a “genderless work style” is to respect others as “human beings” and to recognize diversity without being tied to stereotypes of “sexiness” and “femininity”. to be To do this, I


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