Family, inequality, and the work-family balance in contemporary Japan

Authored by: Aya Ezawa

The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138895201
eBook ISBN: 9781315179582
Adobe ISBN:


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Working parenthood is a prominent topic in contemporary Japan and is widely discussed both on the private and public level. Yet, even though it is increasingly taken for granted that women work, and Prime Minister Abe’s Womenomics policy encourages women to aim for a career, the realities of working parenthood remain complicated. Whether and how women and men combine work with family is not simply a matter of personal ambitions but is also affected by social policies and government support, as well as the structure of the economy and company work culture. This chapter highlights the centrality of family and gender roles in the building of the modern Japanese nation-state and economy in the twentieth century and critically assesses the implications of an emphasis on a male breadwinner model of family for women’s work opportunities as well as growing disparities in the well-being of families and children in contemporary Japan.

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