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Japan’s Archaic Civil Code and the Plight of the UnregisteredNinomiya Shūhei

Japan’s koseki family registry system and anachronistic laws governing familial relations have produced the problem of mukosekisha—unregistered citizens unable to take part in society and exercise their basic rights. The author makes the case for fundamental reform, arguing that Japan’s system is out of step with global norms and its own Constitution.

Japan Eyes Higher Age Limit for Adoption (News)

Tokyo, Dec. 3 (Jiji Press)—Japan's Ministry of Justice has decided to raise the age ceiling in the country's special child adoption system to give more de facto orphans opportunities to grow up in a homelike environment, informed sources said Sunday. Currently, children whose real parents are unable to raise them can become legal children of others if they are under six years old. But the mi…

Divorce After Death: More Japanese Widows Cutting Family TiesTangi Mizuho

Increasing numbers of Japanese widows are taking advantage of a procedure by which they can sever ties with their in-laws in a form of "posthumous divorce.” This reflects the fading of traditional views of the family as an institution that women join for life when they marry, along with reluctance to bear the burden of caring for a deceased husband’s aging parents.

Mothers More Respected Than Fathers in Japan: Survey (News)

Tokyo, June 16 (Jiji Press)—More children in Japan respect their mothers than those who admire their fathers for the first time since 1997, according to a survey conducted by major Japanese ad agency Hakuhōdō Inc. Ahead of Father's Day on Sunday, the result comes as an unwelcome surprise to fathers in Japan. The survey, launched in 1997 and conducted every 10 years to check long-term changes…

Graveside Portraits of Japanese Families (Photos)Itō Masayo (Photographs)

What thoughts go through people’s heads when they visit the graves of loved ones? What news do they wish to share with their departed relatives? These photographs show Japanese families gathered together at cemeteries where they have gone to pay their respects.

The Imperial Family as Postwar Role ModelYamada Masahiro

Since the late 1950s, when the fairy-tale romance of then Crown Prince Akihito and Shōda Michiko captured the public’s imagination, that much-admired couple—now the emperor and empress—has served as a role model for the postwar Japanese family. Sociologist Yamada Masahiro explores the way the imperial family has molded and embodied Japan’s changing mores, from the Meiji Restoration through the emperor’s recent statement on abdication.

People in Twenties Less Marriage-Minded in Japan (News)

Tokyo, Nov. 2 (Jiji Press)—The shares of people in their twenties who hope to marry and have a child have declined, according to a recent National Institution for Youth Education survey. “The issues of economic disparity and poverty seem to dampen” young people's interest in making new families, said Yoichi Akashi, director of the institution's Research Center for Youth Education. The instituti…

The Future of the Japanese Family: Diversification or Virtualization?Yamada Masahiro

The family as an institution has both a social and a personal function. It can facilitate an economically prosperous lifestyle while at the same time making it possible to live with loved ones and to satisfy one’s needs for affection. Until quite recently, these two functions in most industrial countries were fulfilled through a gender-based division of labor, characterized by a breadwinning husba…

The Birth of Culinary Experts and the Evolving Needs of Japanese HousewivesAko Mari

The early twentieth century saw the rise of the fulltime housewife in Japan, which was paralleled by the emergence of culinary experts offering them advice. Social changes in the ensuing years have seen the roles of women and culinary experts change. This article takes a look at those changes leading up to the present day.

Raising Pregnancy Awareness in Japanese SocietyJames Singleton

Walk down the street or ride a train in Japan, and you will often see a heart-shaped keychain bearing the image of a mother and baby dangling from a woman’s bag. Known as a maternity mark, this simple illustration informs others that the bearer is pregnant. Introduced by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare in 2006 as part of a broader program promoting maternal health, the mark has become a…

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