Japan Data

Japanese Women Rule the Roost: Wives More Likely to Run Family Households


Are all Japanese men henpecked by their wives? The power balance in married couples’ households in Japan is perhaps affected by working conditions.

According to a survey by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, the wife is the leader in the majority (51.6%) of married couples in Japan. In contrast, husbands hold that role in just 12.8% of marriages. The survey also found that the wife rules the roost regardless of how long the couple have been married—it held true for newly wedded couples married for less than a year through to long-time married couples married for over 25 years.

The wife tends to take charge in household finances, childcare and education, and housework. Recently, men who actively contribute to childcare are becoming more accepted in Japanese society, but the percentage of men in charge of childcare and education in their household is still a mere 4%. Kodama Yūichi, the chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, commented, “While men’s attitudes play their part, the idea of the husband as the breadwinner and the wife as the homemaker is based in the Japanese employment practices of being unable to decline overtime or job relocations, and is a deep-rooted vestige of the Japan of yesteryear. In that sense, a work style reform is crucial.”

While 45.7% of husbands answered “nothing in particular” when asked about causes for complaint, this was true for just 24% of wives. The top three reasons (multiple answers allowed) cited by the wives for dissatisfaction were “Not thoughtful” (26.7%), “Not cooperative in housework” (20.5%), and “Not organized” (17.9%). It seems that husbands and wives, despite being married, need to still remember to be considerate of each other.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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