The Word Works


The Worries of Young N

Published By: wordworker on 05/24/06

Why aren’t young Japanese getting married? Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living (HILL) researcher Ryuichi Hara reflects on what he heard from one young man, N. (see the Japanese original here).

“N and I were headed for a seven o’clock meeting. We were already late. It was already March, but even so as we hurried down the street between the tall buildings, we were struck by a wintry blast. I want to write about what he said then, when he opened up to me.

Young N has a girlfriend. They have been together for a long time and have reached the stage when they would, if pushed, get married. But my sense of the matter is that the initiative was all on her side. He said emphatically, ‘Nowadays, no man wants to marry a woman like her, who wants so strongly to quit work and become a fulltime housewife.”  It’s more than the fear that marrying a woman who wants to be a fulltime housewife will lower his standard of living. It’s that he and most of his friends want to marry someone who will go on working and support their current lifestyle.

Three years ago, I was in charge of a report about women. “I don’t want my standard of living to decline” ranked high among reasons why women didn’t want to get married or have children. Now it seems that this trend doesn’t affect women alone. This conclusion is shocking to a fellow like me, in his fifties, who thought that a young man would be happy to have a wife who takes care of the house and has a hot meal and bath waiting when he comes home from work.

The Baby Boomer Junior (BB2) generation and subsequent generations that have come of age and started their careers since the collapse of the bubble economy are fearful of losing out a second time. They avoid friction, accept the status quo, and choose the safest paths they can. It is either this or the inability to foretell what the future will bring that makes them see the long-term expense of marriage as a dangerous risk, says N.

N and others like him understand that two people should get married because they like each other and want to spend their lives together.  But confronted with the reality, their anxiety outweighs the perceived benefits. Society may take steps designed to increase the birthrate, hoping that they will marry and produce children. But the barrier erected by wanting to keep what they have is a high one.  We adults have failed to teach them the value of having a household and raising children. So many chose to set aside our adult worries and choose, instead, the affluence they enjoy.”


Next entry:

Previous entry: Specialty Stores and Jacks of All Trades


Post Your Comment:





Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Powered by ExpressionEngine
Site by Boyink Interactive