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Friday, January 6, 2017

Japanese Husband Refuses To Talk To Wife For 20 Years

When I first saw the headline to this Japanese news story, I wondered how he did it. Not why... how.

I know I've wanted to do it... and have managed to grunt my way through a day or two... but 20 bloody years?!

Yumi Otou (surname first), is the man in question... that's him in the photo above. He's from Nara, Japan.

Yumi Katayama (surname first), is his wife... that's her in the above photo.

For 20 years - actually more than 20 years, Otou has not spoken to his wife.

It's even more troubling when you consider they have three kids aged 25, 21 and 18.

So... he's angry enough to not speak for over 20 years... but he still managed to find time to have sex with his wife to create their now 18-year-old son Yumi Yoshiki (surname first).

Maybe it's because I'm not a prude, but even while having sex and uttering the occasional grunts, groans and growls, I'm pretty sure I've uttered words of encouragement and the odd word or two to a deity.

You know... because I enjoy the process and its inevitable conclusion.

So... when I hear about these 20 years of non-verbal discussion with his wife, I have to admire... nay, pity his complete and utter stubbornness.

Apparently Katayama has made many an effort to talk to Otou... but all he does is grunt or nod. I assume both are acknowledgements in the affirmative, meaning he doesn't disagree with what she has to say... because he's already smart enough (as a man) to know that the husband is always wrong.

Even if it's not true, it's often best to let the wife think so. Or, in this case, Otau really doesn't give a crap.

So... son Yoshiki decided to see if a Japanese television show could do anything about it. Because... that's what people do in Japan. Apparently he and his two sisters can not ever recall their parents talking with each other.

The television show - ever the voice of concern for the poor woman who has been treated so shabbily by her husband - called the episode The Incredible Sulk.

Did it really? Could it have been written in Japanese and come out in English as the perfect play on words for The Incredible Hulk? You recall the American TV show from the 1978-1982 television show, where David Banner (in the comic books he's the alliterative Bruce Banner) utter the famous line: "Don't make me angry... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

For those that are unaware, when you get Banner mad, he turns into the Hulk... a neat way of doing a modern-day Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde adaption.

Or... did they instead create a Japanese title with katakana English? It's possible... I can recall back in the early 1990s when I lived in Japan, that the Incredible Hulk show was being broadcast in Japanese (and English).

When the Hokkaido Television show (I can't determine the actual name of the television program) came in to the Yumi household (that's what happens when you only grunt and nod in the affirmative), they saw Otou ignoring his wife after she welcomed him home and offers him juice.

While Otou acknowledged the juice with a grunt, he completely ignored his wife.

The show's producers arrange for both Otau and Katayama to meet in the very same park in Nara where they first met... a date.

Remarkably, Ohau showed up and even went and sat down beside his chatty wife.

Here's a photo (Hokkaido Television) showing Otau arriving for the date.
Sitting down on the park bench and staring down at the ground, Otau uttered his first words in 20+ years to Katayama:

“Somehow…it’s been quite a while since the two of us have talked,” he said as he stared at the ground.

“I know,” she answered... smartly allowing him to continue.

“You were so concerned about the kids. Up until now, you have endured a lot of hardship,” Otou blurts out in that typical old man Japanese slow manner.

“I want you to know I’m grateful for everything,”  he says.

The three kids were all watching and listening in on a microphone nearby and were overcome with relief and joy.

I suppose he did talk to them, though.

So why did Otau stop talking to his wife?

"Up until now, everything seemed pretty good," was NOT what he said, but would have been funnier.

Otau admitted that he had become very jealous of his wife's attention to the two kids (the boy was after he went silent)...

"When the kids were born my wife was very involved and busy in raising the kids,” Otou admits. “I was kind of… jealous. I was sulking about it.”

Damn... he was an ass.

His poor wife didn't do a damn thing wrong. She did everything right... looking after the kids... because that's what you are supposed to do as a parent.

You sacrifice everything for your kids... even your own happiness... but what you don't do is get jealous because you, the man, are no longer the most important thing in the family.

I'm pretty sure this is the exception and NOT the rule in Japanese households in Japan.

However, it is very much the norm that the man goes out and works, while the wife stays home and looks after the family. She takes a large portion of his paycheck and uses it to pay the household bills, but food, cook food, buy clothes and books and toys for the kids and husband and herself... essentially does everything within the family that non-Japanese families do together.

Having said that... I am sure there are many Japanese men who spend plenty of time with their families... but it's not the norm.

So... for this guy, Otau, to become jealous and to treat his doting wife in such a manner is shameful, regardless of nationality.

From a clinical point of view, Otau isn't merely jealous... he must suffer from a mental health issue.

To his credit, however, after talking for the first time in ages, Otau says he wants to communicate.

“I also want to talk,” he told his wife. “After this I hope we could work together from here.”

As outsiders to that family and to Japanese society... we can only marvel at it all. Stubborn Japanese man... and his equally stubborn Japanese wife.

Seriously... he's mentally abusing her with his non-verbal marriage... she should have divorced the bum years ago... but... why didn't she?

While divorce in Japan is a growing trend, for those of a more old-school mentality, I'm betting she didn't do so because of the social stigma in Japan that still exists over divorce.

She looks like a failure... even when it's his problem and cause.

Maybe, however, she decided to stay together because it was better for the kids to have two parents, as there is no evidence he psychologically abused them - IE he talked to them.... but he did abuse them any way when he scarred them because they were aware he had not spoken to their mother in 20+ years.

Discuss amongst yourselves. Out loud, please.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Wow! I kind of get it but 20 years is extreme. When our first child was born there was some adjustment as my wife became totally involved with her new baby I was was pushed not just to the back burner but completely off the stove for a short while. Yes I was jealous but I was even more confused. We were both new to the parenting game but we managed to get it sorted out pretty quickly and establish a new normal. Now we are "pleased that our children have the confidence and ability to strike out on their own despite the sadness that we naturally feel at finally Having the Whole House to Ourselves!"