Gender Inequality and Family-Related Risks

- From the perspective of law and ideology
TANAKA Sigeto <>
(Tohoku University)
Contemporary Japan Speaker Series (2018-01-25)

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Family laws and familial ideologies are crucial factors for gender equality that are often overlooked in gender-equality discourses. This lecture explores how marriage and childbirth are disadvantageous for women in Japan, and the institutionalization of this disadvantage in family laws and in hegemonic family ideology. The focus is on the adverse economic consequences that women experience for career interruptions and child rearing responsibilities, which become more visible after divorce. Results from the National Family Research of Japan (NFRJ) surveys from 1999 to 2009 highlight a great gender gap in post-divorce economic living standards. This is attributable to women’s interrupted careers and their responsibility to take care of children. Analyses of public discourses reveal that the disadvantages encountered by wives and mothers are deeply rooted in the history of law. The disadvantages have also been justified in ideological debates on social problems regarding family, work, welfare, and population issues. Although laws and policies have made some progress in reducing risks, the advancement has been so slow and limited that the underlying mechanism of gender inequality remains untouched.


  1. Tanaka S. (2013) "Gender gap in equivalent household income after divorce". Tanaka S. (ed.) A quantitative picture of contemporary Japanese families: tradition and modernity in the 21st century. Tohoku University Press. 321-350. ISBN: 978-4-86163-226-6
  2. Nakagawa S. (1928) "親族的扶養義務の本質 (1)". 法学新報. 38(6): 1-22. {1928:00096296:38(6):1}
  3. Nakagawa S. (1928) "親族的扶養義務の本質 (2・完)". 法学新報. 38(7): 48-78. {1928:00096296:38(7):48}
  4. Council for Gender Equality (1996) "Vision of gender equality". <>
  5. Tanaka S. (2016) "「男女共同参画基本計画」(第1次〜第4次) に出現する「性差」" <>
  6. Motozawa M. (1998) 離婚給付の研究. 一粒社. {ISBN:4752702649}


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