In Japan, that the woman is considered—unofficially—as a second-class citizen is something few observers of Japan could seriously argue against.
Equals, supposedly, in virtually every profession, women spend time every morning making o-cha (hot green tea) and serving it to their male counterparts when they enter the work area. The female worker will note if the man has finished his tea, provide refills, and may even clean the cup when the job is complete - this in addition to the same job as the man.
I think what is worse is that the men never provide this same 'service' as the women do, but even more terrible is the fact that it is 'expected'.
That implies the men know the women are their servants.
Personally, I saw this time and time again in my Japanese schools. I saw men not holding doors open, men barely acknowledging women are in a room while greeting their male comrades… it's men expecting women to move out of their way as they continue to climb the corporate ladder.
It's companies knowing of many young, intelligent and educated women fully aware that the woman will soon get married, and leave to raise a family—so why hire them in the first place.
It goes on and on…
Japan's situation isn't unique, of course. I personally know people here in Canada who are steadfast about hiring women of a certain young vintage for fear that they will soon have a kid, go on maternity leave, get government funds for that, and then just before they are to come back to work, miraculously quit to find another job leaving many employers stuck with a temp for nine months of maternity leave and another month or so to find a replacement.
It happens, and it's called playing the system to perfection. But it helps create a negative image in companies looking to hire, and therefore a stain on women as a whole when it comes to being hired - in my opinion.
It's not a hard-fast stain that can't be removed. In the companies I have worked for, they seem to just hire the best person possible for whatever job they are trying to fill. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.
In Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Japan ranks near the bottom of countries with respect to hiring women with college/university degrees.
While the OECD study notes that 92 per cent of Japanese MEN with a degree have a job, or Women, it's a paltry 69 per cent—the OECD average for women is 80 percent.
In Japan, 26 percent of those between ages 25 and 64 have at least a college degree. The figure is 35 percent for Japanese between ages 25 and 34, above the OECD average of 30 percent.
The data is based on figures from 2012.
Between sips of piping hot o-cha, Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) says he and his boyband government administration would try and figure out ways to better utilize female skills and abilities.
What's interesting to me, of course, is that there wasn't any previous indication to Abe that women were being under utilized. Or, if there was, he didn't care.
But… not to point fingers at Abe only… others before him and in other positions of power should have known.
To me, this is one of those annoying things that makes Japan seem kind of ass-backwards sometimes.
Then again… crap happens like this everywhere. Misogynist comments from the mouth of Toronto's mayor… or what's going on in the NFL right now.
If I might… most people are aware that this past February, an NFL player slugged his wife in an elevator, knocking her out cold. The facts were known to the National Football League, and they suspended him for two games. You get six if you smoke some marijuana. Major suspension if you engage in dog-fighting, but two games for coldcocking your woman.
Yeah, yeah, suspensions, fired from the team - but ONLY after a video surfaced and went public showing the assault. The thing is… it occurred in en elevator in a casino. There are frisking cameras everywhere in a casino… and only when the video went public did everyone get rally upset.
But that's not my point… on September 11, 2014, that NFL player's team, the Baltimore Ravens played my Pittsburgh Steelers, beating them handily. Damn.
In the crowd were several fans wearing jerseys of the NFL player who assaulted his wife… including women.
One intrepid journalist with microphone in hand went to interview one of these female fans, while not really complimenting her on her jersey choice.
Unfazed, that female fan said that while she was against violence against women, she says that if a woman goes to hit a man (like in the video), she should expect to be hit back.
Yes, a lower-case wow.
Is this what some women think is okay in society? Pow! Zoom! To the moon, Alice! Of course, it could just be the opinion of one dumbass football fan.
Back to how women are viewed in Japan.
Look… the fact that the most popular topics on my blog are invariably about women and sex tells me a lot, and I complain about the number of hits each get to my friends.
I do glorify things a bit in those blogs - but I'm doing that in a different way in THIS blog, too. But aside from clothed female models, I keep things fairly clean - even though some people get angry at me because they think my use of the word 'damn' is offensive. It's in the dictionary and if you care to read it, you can find the word 'damnation' in the Bible.
I like what OECD directorate for education and skills Andreas Schleicher suggested to Japan: to expand day-care services for children under the age of three to allow highly educated women to hold jobs.
The top-ranked nations in the OECD study, such as Sweden and Norway, had all taken measures to support child-rearing.
Would these services be free or paid for? If paid for, what is stopping agencies for child care from opening up in Japan. We have those in Canada. They are expensive and not everyone can afford them, but we have plenty of regulated (and many unregulated under the table) daycare facilities.
But… here's something for the OECD to consider… in a very large number of Japanese families, the husband and or wife has a parent or two living with them. Or, they live close enough top their parents… which I'm just saying that it is possible for 'free' daycare to exist.
Obviously, that is not an universal truth in Japan, but I've been to many a homestead and seen grandparents looking after the kids - along with the mother…
The wonder I always had was why didn't the women go back to work? The kid is being looked after?
But, the truth remains that the women in Japan, once married, are generally expected to run the household. Daily cleaning. Near daily shopping owing to these tiny refrigerators that only hold one or two day's worth of food, laundry, cooking and more… it means looking after their kids when they come back form school and the husband, too…
It really is like any women in Japan with a kid, often has two - with the husband being the bigger baby.
According to the OECD, it conducts annual studies about educational systems of member nations, including government spending and its effects on education.
“The reason the resource of highly educated women is not being utilized is the lack of jobs that match their abilities, since the only work available for women who seek employment after raising children is simple part-time work,” says Japan Women’s University economics professor and specialist in women’s career development Osawa Machiko (surname first).
She's right, of course.
In Canada, I can count amongst the women I know - let's see: NINE! Nine women I know who have raised kids, but aren't working now even though their kids are in grade school or even graduated high school - and not working.
Some by choice. Some by situation. Some are looking, but are finding that even with a Masters Degree, their work skills are outdated. Some go back to school for further education. Some take part-time work in grunt labor positions. Most slip into the role of homemaker.
And that, again, is just in the small sampling of women I know in Toronto. The same problem, but different situation exists in Japan.
The OECD study showed that the employment rate among the younger Japanese women with higher education has risen by five percentage points since 2000. That was in line with an increase in the ratio of those who used day-care services for children under age three.
But I wonder if that just meant more part-time employment rather than full-time gigs?
The results of a survey under the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) released by the OECD last year found Japan ranked No. 1 in adult skills in literacy and numeracy.
So at least we know the Japanese can spell under-utilized.