Skip to comments.What Japanese Women Want: A Western Husband
Posted on 12/06/2004 9:12:18 AM PST by MississippiMasterpiece
TOKYO The Japanese government wants women like Taeko Mizuguchi to get married and start doing something about the nation's plunging birthrate. But she's not interested.
At least, not if her prospective husband is Japanese.
A growing number of Japanese women are giving up on their male counterparts, and taking a gamble that looking abroad for love will bring them the qualities in a partner that seem rare at home. Mr. Right, as the hope goes, is often an American or European, a man appreciative of a wife's career and more of a partner in daily tasks.
"They treat you like equals, and they don't hesitate to express mutual feelings of respect - I think Western men are more adept [at such things] than Japanese men," says the 36-year-old Ms. Mizuguchi, who works at a top trading firm. "They don't act like women are maids - I think they view women as individuals."
Underscoring that Japanese women are losing hope with the local boys, dating agencies to help snag a Western husband have sprung up in Tokyo, some with branches in the US and Europe. Such companies rigorously vet their clients, screening for education, family background, occupation, and life goals.
The kind of women who sign up for such services include doctors, lawyers, and other professionals - women who have delayed marriage to concentrate on careers and who aren't keen to give up hard won gains to become a housewife, as many Japanese men expect.
Japanese women have come to consider traditional marriage roles as "disadvantageous in terms of time resources - they have to carry the burden of domestic chores as well as lose their free time," says Chizuko Ueno, a professor of sociology at Tokyo University.
Normally, married Japanese women have not only to look after their own parents during old age, but also to care for their parents-in-law. When it comes to raising kids, "they can't expect much cooperation from their partner" because of the long work hours required at many Japanese corporations and because of established gender roles that assume that the woman does the child-rearing, Ms. Ueno adds.
A generation of women who are now entering their 30s don't want to give up single life unless prospective partners are willing to break from traditional gender roles.
Government polls conducted to find out why women have put off marriage until well after 25 years of age - known as a woman's " 'best before' date" - show that economic independence is key to the change. As most Japanese women have their own income, marriage is no longer a financial necessity and women want to find companionship in a husband.
That is where Japanese men have come up short. There is "a wide gap in men's and women's attitudes and expectations toward marriage" vis-à-vis traditional gender roles, says Sumiko Iwao, professor of social psychology at Musashi Institute of Technology in Yokohama. For instance, coming home later than your Japanese husband is a no-no.
Having ruled out an old-fashioned Japanese husband, many women here think the solution is a Western man. Indeed, some seem so enthralled with the idea that they are willing to spend thousands of dollars to inspect the wares personally. Of the more than 2,000 women on the books at one large matchmaking agency, about 200 travel to the US or Europe each month to meet prospects.
Sentimental projections have recently been extended to Korean men also, due to romantic Korean soap operas.
In 2003, Japanese women marrying American or British men outnumbered Japanese men marrying American or British women by 8 to 1. The total proportion of Japanese marrying foreigners each year has crept up from around 3.5 percent in 1995 to just over 5 percent. Japanese men are actually more than three times as likely as the women to take a foreign spouse, but this is mostly rural men marrying less well-off Chinese and Filipino women. "Such cases are elderly farmers not popular among young Japanese women," says Yuriko Hashimoto, a local government employee in the remote northern prefecture of Iwate.
To be fair, not all the blame for female angst here can be laid on Japanese men. The government has been slow to enforce equal opportunity laws, and both pay and the glass ceiling in most Japanese corporations remain low for women. Recession has hampered longer maternity leave and other family-friendly policies.
As Japan's fertility rate drops to new lows - at last count it was 1.29, well below levels required for population replacement - the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is anxiously drawing up plans to make it easier for young couples to raise children, through such measures as the provision of cheap public housing.
Mixed marriages in Japan
Japanese men marry: Chinese 10,242 Filipinos 7,794 Koreans 2,235 Americans 156 British 65
Japanese women marry: Koreans 5,318 Americans 1,529 Chinese 890 British 334 Filipinos 117
Source: 2003 Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare
And how would they compare to their counterparts who didn't take foreign spouses.
Look, I'm about as conservative as it gets on most issues. I'm glad to be home raising my kids. I frankly like the traditional delineation of roles in my marriage, though I recognize and respect not everyone wants that. And I'll admit to having something in common with my more liberal sisterhood and that is: no one treats me like a doormat, a maid, or a plaything. I'm not on this planet to bolster the sagging ego of any man, even if he happens to be my husband. That doesn't make me "unfit" to be a wife or mother, that doesn't make me "ungrateful". It makes me a thinking, confident women who understands her own worth and value. If men -- be they American, Japanese, Russian, or what have you -- don't understand this, that is their problem and loss.
I agree. Women need to be told they are beautiful from time to time. The old saying is true, Women give sex for love, and men give love for sex.
Japanese women can be just as bitchy, naggy and otherwise unpleasant as their western counterparts and the stereotype of them as little, submissive domestic and sexual servants is pure BS, but there is one very real difference between them and American women. Japanese women are much more comfortable with traditional gender roles. They tend to respect men for being masculine and have no desire to be masculine themselves.
I believe it has more to do with why a person gets married not what country they come from.
Re: Post #129. Yes, please read it......
"Men and women should be equal...period. That goes for child rearing and working outside the home."
I was pointing out that it should be up to the couple, not you, to arrange their relationship, divide up chores and careers. The above statement is rigid, won't work for everyone, probably isn't desirable for everyone.
I get from your statement the impression that you look down on stay at home mothers.
My wife of 30 years is my best friend, which by definition makes us more or less equal. It's what I want in a wife. But people tend not to be exactly "equal," no matter the sex.
I tend to be comfdrtable with traditional male and female roles, as long as both sexes recieve equal respect.
I think my daughter is going to be a career woman, which is OK with me. As it will be if, once she has children, she decides to stay at home. Or not stay at home.
Now THAT'S a good quote.
I was really not refering to just Japanese women, but to the trend of American men thinking foreign brides are perfect.
I don't really know many Western women with a chip on their shoulder about feminism.
I mean, they vote and make decisions for themselves without consulting a man, if that's the kind of feminism you're implying.
Leave it to me to say the decidedly un-PC. :o)
Re post 129... LOL
A few years ago, I went to the new Food Lion near me, and, while there, got myself and my wife the check cashing card. No big deal, just happened to do it.
Without going into details, let's just say I went looking for new grocery stores to get check cashing cards, if you know what I mean.
LOL...good one. I like that.
But define masculine. Does that mean wanting a careeer, or haivng goals that do not involve laundry? Does that mean likes to go hiking, hunting, or sky diving? Does masculine mean likes sports? Is there something wrong with American women who like sports, can and do use firearms and have dreams and goals of their own?
Then why did you use such a broad brush when you claimed that foreign spouses were marrying for green cards? You were wrong in two of three marriages in your own family.
Relating figures of American "spinsterhood" is smoke and mirrors. There are nearly 2 to 1 more women than men.
Wrong, read a census.
Further, and this won't sit well, some American women, when given the choice between marrying American Godlike Men and remaining single, have CHOSEN to remain single.
Well, no kidding?
Spinsters by choice are still spinsters, and they choose to remain single because they don't appreciate the men around them, which I've been saying.
Oh no, she married you for the green card, because you're clearly a beer-swilling caveman who couldn't buy an American date. LOL