Japan is famous for male chauvinistic society. Men will go out, work, make money, and support their family. Therefore, they are primary in society and family. Women will stay home, give birth to their babies, and sustain their family. So they are secondary. When a woman became an executive, everybody was shocked. Some men were upset. Those were the days not so long time ago.
Japanese men are strong, aggressive, and outgoing. Japanese women are obedient, quiet, and holding. These were the Japanese typical stereotype. Only Japanese men should not be blamed for this tendency. Until quite recently, it was not so usual to meet a woman who was seriously seeking a business career. Even women became executives in their company, they changed their mind, married, had a baby, and became housewife and mother.
This traumatic Japanese mind-set initially came from “Bushido”, Samurai Spirits. Especially the textbook of “Bushido” categorizes people in social groups, age groups, and genders. The textbook gave detail definitions of “dos and don’ts” to the people in certain social group, age group, and gender. For example, Samurai families’ sons, by age 13, must be trained for martial arts and educated for ethics. They must be self-propelled and motivated to fight and protect their families. Another example is that Samurai’s daughter, age 20 – 25 should be highly skilled on household affairs, such as cooking, cleaning, and baby-sitting. They should not go out with young men without engagement for marriage. They should marry by 26.
Please wait a minute, here. Although this textbook of Samurai spirits is the foundation of Japanese male chauvinism, Japanese history has not just been dominated by Samurai doctrines. It was 1192 when the first Samurai government started ruling. It lasted until 1868 when the last Shogun stepped down from its position of power. Its history of governance is less than half of Japanese history.
The very first ruler of Japan appeared in history was the queen Himiko (175 – 248). Himiko was a female shaman and spirit medium, who could convey messages and orders from God to people. She was powerful queen who established diplomatic relationship with China as equal partners. She also appears in an ancient Chinese history book.
After Himiko, in Japanese history between the Sixty Century and the Eighth Century, there were eight Empresses regnant. They were six female emperors including two ruled twice. There were two more female imperial reigned in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. Ten Empresses regnant in its history is noteworthy, comparing to the Chinese history having only one ruling empress in three thousand years of their history.
Women in Japan had played crucial roles in history. They played an important role in transition and hard times. There was a female writer who wrote; “In the early period of history, women were Sun in Japan” in 1910’s. Today, facing evolution of social values, the role for women is also changing. As they sensed the change, there appears so many women entrepreneur in Japanese society, carrying different messages and different business styles from conventional types of business. Hopefully, they regain the energy of “Sun”. They survive, grow, and bring in new development of Japanese society and economy. Japanese men and society should not define them using old social value of chauvinism. Japanese men should protect them and grow with them.