Are women in Japan asking for too much?

Are women in Japan asking for too much?

I don’t think so.


Illustration by Chad Fischer

Feminism…yeah yeah we’ve all heard of it so many times and also read so many articles about it as well. Just a bunch of angry women saying, “I need my rights!!” Which is a totally normal reaction given the current social climate we are in. However, this piece is not about how women are treated in Japan but it’s more about the ignorance Japan has on social issues. Frankly speaking, it’s not a topic that just solves itself. I want to talk about how “feminism” is discussed, and how it’s not really discussed in Japan and how that’s just not ok anymore.

One thing that I hate is Japanese television. I think it’s a universal truth that TV content quality has become so shit that no one cares anymore. However, I happened to turn on the usual shitty television program that was basically a bunch of girls talking about living/working in Japan and how it’s great and not.

In one section, they talked about how many women in Japan are reluctant to get married because of various reasons, but one of the main points was because they don’t want “more” work when they go home. They don’t want the responsibility (which is definitely not mandatory but just a fantasy construct created by men) of taking care of their husband and home. I was like, that’s actually really great that women in Japan are finally saying “NO.” “No, I don’t want to do all the work.” In Japanese women’s minds, marriage is such a physical and emotional toll, marriage isn’t actually being in love with someone but it’s like another fucking full time job for women. That is why the birth rate is getting lower and lower as well and we are basically becoming a childless country.

I understand that this is just one single fraction of a television segment and I am not trying to generalize anything. Although, I am realizing, first hand, the struggles women feel on a daily basis are not seen by men while we co-exist with them. On top of that, the subject of this matter, which is why women themselves don’t talk or think twice about feminism or, on a domestic level, if equal treatment is being met in their own household.  

The way I see it, there are two significant problems.  First, I want men to realize and think on their own about their partners’ needs. Think of it as efficiency. If you all hate the word “feminism” and think it’s just way too much, think of it as “let’s make life easier together” by discussing what are both of your needs. Yes, discussion and not lazy assumptions.

For example, “oh, do you want me to buy some groceries on my way home?” not “what’s for dinner?” “Do you just want to get takeout? We’re both tired from today.” Not, “Ugh, I’m so tired!” Decide what’s best for your lifestyle. You do the house cleaning, and she does the shopping, or visa versa. Whatever! The important and obvious thing here is not to assume your role regarding your gender. There is no law in Japan that says, “women should do all the work.”

Secondly, both women and men in Japan should get a sense of what “feminism” actually is, and what you need to do to partake in it to make an efficient and equal lifestyle. When I was watching this TV program where a bunch of girls were asked, “What is feminism?” a girl answered the Wikipedia definition of feminism. And all the other girls were like “sugoi!” or “wow!” Some were even making faces like “shiranai (I don’t know)”. Which again, I know it’s television so it’s probably being staged but (also, knowing the textbook definition is not even the point here….) we live in the 21st century where we have (very few) women CEOs and (almost) had a female president for the first time ever in American history. We should not act like feminism is such a foreign topic to us anymore. The world, politics and women are evolving right under our noses.

Please look around outside of Japan and see what is happening to other first world countries. See what kind of changes are being made to have more women involved in society. Please think twice about your current situation and don’t assume you have an obligation to meet gender roles.

Years ago groups of women marched for their own rights against powerful men, and those women tried to make it a little easier for us to speak up. It’s a shame that we are not doing so, especially when we have the environment and privilege to do so.

It is becoming way more common in Japan for women to work after they have children, however, it is nearly impossible to do it alone. We need help from all of you. Not just men but all of you. In order to do that, first we need to look back at our current lifestyle and way of thinking. This is not “it is what it is” type of problem anymore, because Sweden, France and other first world countries like us are moving along together to have an efficient and equal lifestyle for both parties.

Can we please start by asking questions, giving a proper education to our children and have more discussions to understand what is going on, what is being done and what is not?

Megumi Koiwai was born and raised in Japan as half American/Japanese. She currently works in the IT app industry. A former YouTuber, she loves discussing current social issues. You can read more on her blog ( or follower her on Twitter @dolcemegs.