My Executive


    Sep 26, 2013

    Japan poll: One in 3 wants to become housewife

    ONE in three young Japanese women wants to get married and be a full-time housewife, a government survey has showed, despite growing calls for increased female participation in the workforce.

    The poll, which quizzed more than 3,000 people aged 15-39, found that 34 per cent of unmarried women did not want to work after they settled down.

    The survey, by the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry, found that only a slightly higher proportion of women did not want to become dedicated housewives (38 per cent), while the rest had no firm opinion.

    However, potential husbands were, on the whole, less keen on the idea, with only one in five saying they wanted a future wife to stay at home all day.

    Despite high levels of education, many women in Japan drop out of the workforce when they have children, and social pressure to play the homemaker remains strong.

    Experts at home and abroad, notably International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde, have argued that women could rescue Japan's chronically underperforming economy if more of them went to work.

    The nation's male-dominated, shrinking labour market is being hit by retiring baby boomers and a falling birth rate, which are putting extra pressure on the nation's finances as it tries to fund a growing pension pot from a shrinking pool of workers.

    As part of an overhaul aimed at getting the economy moving again, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to expand business opportunities for women.

    Earlier this week, his foreign minister told a United Nations forum that, by 2020, 30 per cent of senior government positions would be held by women. At present, only two of the 19 members of the Cabinet are women.

    The survey was conducted on the Internet in late March, and its results were released this week. The poll found that younger women tend not to look for potential husbands who can bring home a huge pay cheque.

    More than 40 per cent said they wanted a moderate and stable lifestyle, and would be happy with a household take-home pay of 200,000 yen-300,000 yen (S$2,546-S$3,816) a month to live off after marriage.