Among the developed countries, Japan is infamous for having the most gender inequality. For example, in 2011, only 43% of women, in Japan, worked in a nonagricultural sector. That same year the United States had 48% of women working in a nonagricultural setting (datatopics.worldbank.org). Even the Japanese acknowledge that men and women are seen in different lights. While the societal differences between Japanese woman are clear, the factors that cause these women to remain within the boundaries set by society and gender roles is harder to understand. Some believe that these women don’t feel oppressed at all. While others feel there is no room for women in Japan to breathe. Those outside of Japan might gain a better understanding of the situation in which these women live by examining the historical role of woman as mother. The role of women in historical Japan has affected societal norms today but is there anyone to blame for the inequality that is a contested issue, especially in the West?
How Americans Typically View Japanese Women
Equality, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “the quality or state of having the same rights, social status, etc.” In America, people are continually fighting for the ideal of equality, especially as it pertains to men and women in the workplace. It is believed that women and men can work equally and should be paid equally. This belief is so strongly ingrained in Americans that they hold other developed countries to the same standards. Japan has a male dominated workforce making it challenging for women to get full time jobs. Therefore, Japan is seen as having severe gender inequality based on this American ideal of workplace equality. With this generalization in mind, I conducted a survey through the social media website Facebook to get a more accurate answer of how much the people around me know about Japan, and women in Japan. While not a statistically significant representation of the people in the United States, I received input from thirty-one respondents. Unfortunately in the data I collected I did not think to have them supply and their age or gender. I also realized after I conducted the survey that the wording of some of my questions conveyed my personal biases. Even with these flaws, some useful information was gained. When asked, “Would you say women in Japan face inequalities?” fifteen people answered “yes”, fifteen people answered “I’m not sure”, and only one person answered “no”. This question was answered after another asking, “Are you informed on Japanese society?” in which twenty-five people answered “no”. This information gave a new insight on how those who claim to know very little about Japan seem to know about this inequality. It seems this view has been formulated with little understanding of Japanese culture and an over abundance of these American beliefs.
Actual Historical Background
Strong male figures, like samurai and emperors, dominate the American view...