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I always found gender inequity in Japan quite different from how it was in the West. To me it seems that Japanese women were comparatively highly respected. Their role in society was different from that of the men, and still is, but independently from that the status of women was high since long ago. Just as an example, Japanese wives have traditionally had full financial control over the family budget - men got an allowance from them. I think wives/mothers in traditional households were usually seen as the head of the family behind the scenes, doing most of the important family decisions.

I work in Japan and don't agree with you. I believe they may be "respected" but they are not treated equally at all and I don't think their status is high at all. In the household they may control the finances but from my experiences they don't generally have the final say in the finances. Also in the workplace amongst others there is a huge disparity between pay and "rights".

In the southern USA, women are "respected" until they violate social norms of getting married and having children. I hear that women in Japan are still expected to (and usually do) quit their jobs when they have a child. You might try talking to some women in these situations to find out if they consider that to be a situation in which they are "highly respected".

You might find https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Shinto to be interesting reading.

Note that I never wrote that the situation is maximising happiness as-is and shouldn't be changed. I just wanted to point out that the peculiarities of the traditional female role in Japan differs quite a bit from Western societies, and one should be careful to leave out assumptions that come from mirroring our home culture.

One other example is that in Japan, the arguably most formative work of literature is 'Tale of Genji' (~1000 AD!), written by a woman. This work has a Dante's Inferno like status in Japan, in that it was both formative to both Japanese language and culture. The closest you could compare it to in English is if you combine the impacts of both the King James' bible and Shakespeare's work.

This is just to show what I mean with cultural status of women in Japan - it basically started since 1000 years ago when the women's way of writing (Hiragana / vocabulary / grammar) has started to become more and more the standard thanks to Lady Murasaki, and funnily enough this is still an ongoing process with Kanji's still being dropped for Hiragana. I think you'd have a hard time finding a historical Western woman with a comparable cultural impact - Queen Elizabeth I is the only one I can think of.

Huh. I expressed no opinion that the situation was or wasn't maximizing happiness as-is or should or should not be changed. I was recommending that you talk to modern Japanese women about whether they feel "highly respected".

I think you don't understand the situation in Japan because you see it with Western eyes. There are actually a lot of women who enjoy having this kind of role in society (and who have no interest in a career) - just because they were raised in that culture and do not reject it.

Now, it is true that if you are an ambitious woman in Japan, it is going to be difficult to make a career for yourself and you will certainly face discrimination at some workplaces. But that does not mean every woman is like or feels like that.

Huh, I didn't express any opinion about the situation in Japan, so are you actually replying to what I said? I definitely didn't say anything about what every woman in Japan thinks or feels. I think HN discussion would be better off if people responded to what was actually said, instead of repeatedly making things up and responding to that. I say "repeatedly" because that already happened in this thread.

In the west, a lot of the women I know would love to quit after having children in order to raise them full-time, but can't afford to. One of the main reasons the Japanese government is pushing to increase women's stature is to get them to work more for the economy's sake.

One of the issues of inequality is that housework and child-rearing is looked down upon, not that people choose to do housework and child-rearing. There are only a few countries that have made progress on that end - see e.g. Scandinavian countries where paternal leave and stay-at-home dads are on the rise.

> I hear that women in Japan are still expected to (and usually do) quit their jobs when they have a child.

You don't always have a choice - because there are no or few daycare facilities available anyway, and you may not live close to your parents either.

Daycare has become very good in Japan (I don't know about the rural areas). Many cities are trying their best to accommodate all the children so the parents can keep working if they please. I think the government is putting pressure on cities because of declining birth rates to be as helpful as possible. Where I live you can put your child in daycare starting at 4 months with special exceptions (low income so both parents need to work, etc), or starting at 1 year old for regular folks. It's a little difficult to get into your choice school usually but they can usually fit you in one of your top three choices.

> Daycare has become very good in Japan (I don't know about the rural areas)

As you mentioned, don't generalize to everywhere in Japan. I can tell you even in Kansai it's far from ideal and the daycare facilities are completely full and you need to reserve more than a year in advance to even have a chance to get your kid in.

Okay I made a mistype. Daycare has become much better is the correct thing to say. It's not the best but much better than it was 15 years ago. There is a "waiting list" almost everywhere I know of but if you try you can get in generally.

I was unable to get my son (8 months old at the time) into daycare anywhere near my home in southern Tokyo; we were lucky to get into a private place four stations in the opposite direction of my workplace.

This was last year. The situation is very much still problematic, even in cities.

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