Real Japanese Essays

Real Japanese Essays-39
”Once I’ve setteled as an office worker like many women in Japan before me, I will be forced to repeat boring tasks, staying in the same position until I quit.My life will almost end there.” Even though they felt fully-charged via their eye-opening-cultural exchanges with the workshop mentors, there seemed to be no place in their Japan where they could utilize their passion and vision.

”Once I’ve setteled as an office worker like many women in Japan before me, I will be forced to repeat boring tasks, staying in the same position until I quit.

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Of course the house itself has been rebuilt, and remodeled, many times in those years.

Many years ago in New York, I assisted in a month-long creative workshop for Japanese students from a women’s college in Japan.

Today he proudly points out that his precocious 2 ½ year old great-grandson is being groomed to become the fourteenth generation head of this family.

The family has lived at the current house site for several centuries, since the ancestors first came to this community generations ago.

Japanese women’s level of education is as high as men’s.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey from 2012, 59% of women aged 25 to 34 years have university degrees compared to 52% for men in the same age category.This low rate of illegitimacy results from an aggressive use of contraceptives, mainly the condom, and different cultural attitudes about abortion.What is still common in Japan, and rarely seen in the United States, are three, four and occasionally even five generation households.On the last day of the workshop, the students excitingly stated, “I’ve never received such compliments in my life.Until now, I had belived that there was no strength within me.“ And, “This great experience gave me a totally new perspective.” Their enthusiasm faded, however, when they discussed their next steps: “After going back to Japan and graduating from school, how can I live? “Any job offers posted in our school as an all-female college were simply office workers positions,” they told me.Recently ranked 101 out of 145 nations (just ahead of Swaziland) in gender gap ratings according to the World Economic Forum, Japan is a world loser for gender equality. Japan’s National Tax agency in 2013 reported that the average salary of men is 502 million yen, while women stand at 268 million yen.These gender gap realities are the remains of the “housewives” era that continues to dominate in our culture, a working culture in which companies regard female employees as unreliable in the long run, and thus place women into replaceable positions since women employees tend to quit the workforce upon marriage, pregnancy or with the subsequent tasks of child-raising.As a result of this vicious cycle, in a system where seniority is highly rewarded, less than 5 % of company board members are women in Japan.Also, the harsh wage penalty makes it difficult for single mothers to live without assistance, since their household income is usually not sufficient to make a living with their child(ren).Although the frustrated voices in this case came up from women, these problems really illuminate a larger problem within the nation’s entire workforce, a work/ life imbalance that must be addressed to enable fair working conditions for all. In the United Nations Inclusive Wealth Report in 2012, Japan received high scores in “human capital” wealth.The nation’s educational standard is high– almost half of adults finished a higher level of education than high school, and about 83% of them obtain full time employment afterwards.


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