TANAKA Sigeto <http://tsigeto.info/17y>Symposium "The Impact of the Humanities and Social Sciences: Discussing Germany and Japan" (2017-11-14)
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The family system is one of the subsystems of the Japanese society in which gender equality has hardly been achieved. This paper discusses the current state of gender equality focusing on women's economic disadvantage in post-divorce life and on public discourses that legitimates the gender-unequal family system.
Population of divorced or never-married people has increased in Japan. How has this change influenced economic gender gap?
These results show that the family system, in particular the legal system of marriage and divorce, is responsible for economic gender inequality. Along with the growing population of divorced people, there may be increasing probability at which a woman experience disadvantageous situation.
Japan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985 and has subsequently introduced law/policy reforms aiming at gender equality. How these reforms have incorporated equalization of family?
Japanese gender equality policy has not had systematic description on how family creates inequality and what reform is needed for equality. It is rather inclined to consider traditional social function of family as compatible with gender equality.
Discourses about Japanese family are divided into two schools. One advocates the traditional stem family based on so-called "ie" system, while the other advocates the modern family based on a triad of an equal couple and their child. What these discourses imply to reforms of the system of marriage and divorce?
Even today, the traditional thought about the "ie" family system is supported by the public opinion. Family policies of the government are under the influence of the "ie" ideology. It may be part of the reason why reforms of the family system have not been oriented to equal distribution among the members.
On the other hand, the modern thought advocates equality among family members. However, this does not necessarily imply that public policy should enforce equality on family. The modern family ideology assumes mutual altruism between the husband and the wife and one-way altruism from them to their children, as if their altruistic relationship has already achieved equality among them. Although there has been a long history of argument by family law scholars for enforcement of equal distribution through divorce, the hegemonic discourse on family is reluctant to adopt this argument.
Statistical findings exhibit that gender inequality grows in family life and becomes visible after divorce. The findings show the family system's fault for unequal distribution. However, gender equality discourses have not addressed reform of the family system. That may be because family is regarded as an autonomous and private group that should be free from public control, in both of the traditional and modern perspectives. The family system has thus been ignored in the politics of gender equality.
The data for this secondary analysis, National Family Research of Japan 1998 (NFRJ98), 2003 (NFRJ03), and 2008 (NFRJ08) by the NFRJ Committee, Japan Society of Family Sociology, was provided by the Social Science Japan Data Archive, Center for Social Research and Data Archives, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo.
Questions/comments are welcome.
Tohoku Univ / School of Arts and Letters / Applied Japanese Linguistics / TANAKA Sigeto
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