Libmonster ID: JP-1278
Author(s) of the publication: I. TIKHOTSKAYA

Japan entered the XXI century, experiencing far from the best of times - since the beginning of the 90s, a depression has been going on, which in its impact went beyond the economic framework and had a significant impact on the worldview of the population who started talking about a "crisis in the soul". Japanese people in the last decade of the 20th century were very concerned about the large number of bankruptcies in the country, unemployment and, most importantly, lost confidence in the future.

The country is on the verge of major changes. According to various experts, radical changes are very likely - both economic and social, in terms of the significance of the consequences, quite comparable to the changes that occurred during the Meiji modernization period or during the post-war reforms.


At the beginning of the new millennium, Japanese society faced a number of new challenges. So, first of all, the time when the country's population was growing is coming to an end. The population, which was about 30 million at the beginning of the 19th century and grew to 127 million by 2000, is expected to reach its peak by 2007. This is due to the fact that the post - war "baby boom" - a sharp increase in the birth rate-has been replaced by a downward trend since the early 50s, and the fertility rate (the average number of children per woman of childbearing age) has fallen from 4 to 1.34.

Changes in the size and age structure of the population have a huge impact on the economy and society. When the generation born during the "baby boom" period gets old (and its representatives are already 30-55 years old), Japan will turn into the "oldest" society on the globe. Now the state is pursuing an active policy in relation to the "aging society". In 2000, the proportion of children under the age of 15 in the country was 15.1%, and people over 65-16.2%. By 2015, the number of people over 60 will already exceed those under 20, accounting for 25 percent of the total population.

In the pre-war period, the average life expectancy in the country was 50 years, in the mid-60s - 60, at the turn of the 70-80-ies exceeded 70, and now it is already 80 years.

So, until recently, the life cycle was 60 years, and the entire social system (education, the civil code, lifelong employment, family relations, housing, social security and medical care systems, spending free time) was designed for it. The achievement of the 80-year cycle at the end of the 20th century led to a number of problems caused by the fact that society, like the state, did not have time to rebuild in accordance with current realities and change its institutions.

In the twenty-first century, we expect not only a certain further increase in life expectancy, but also a faster growth of the group of people of the oldest ages, that is, over 75 years of age. In this regard, back in the 80s, Japan began to develop comprehensive plans and programs aimed at solving future problems. In fiscal year 1989/1990, Japan adopted a ten-year strategy to improve health care and living conditions for the elderly, known as the"Golden Plan". However, already in the mid-1990s, it became clear that it needed significant adjustments, both due to the sharp growth and diversification of needs for home services, as well as awareness of the need to develop a wider network of specialized paid services and adjust the program for the protection of the elderly by society. In the 1995/1996 financial year, the "New Gold Plan" came into force, but it is estimated that it will not be able to fully solve the problems of the elderly: in the 2000 financial year , only 40 percent of the needs for home services were met, 1 so there are already voices that the introduction of 2000/2001 will not be enough. financial year of the new insurance system (insurance in case you need to get help at home 2) will create a certain basis for the adoption of a new version of the "New Golden Plan".

The aging of the population, however, poses not only new challenges to the state in terms of social security, but also entails a significant change in the balance of the able-bodied and disabled population. The viability of both the social security sector and the country's economy as a whole will depend on the solution of these tasks. In other words, this complex issue is very multifaceted and is by no means limited to the problems of social security, which the Japanese are trying to solve. The Basic Law on Politics in an Aging Society, adopted in 1995, as well as several other documents approved in the late 1990s, includes the regulation of employment and income as one of the most important areas so that each member of society can implement the following measures:

page 15

your abilities and, if you wish, work at least until the age of 65. At the same time, no real progress has yet been made in this regard.

For women, first of all, the aging of society turns into the need to take care of elderly relatives.

During the period of high economic growth, the preferred life cycle model of the majority of the population was successful employment on a long-term basis, getting married and having children, saving money to buy their own housing and educate their children. Stereotypical was the hope of the majority of families for the future: even those who started out with a small income (and this was the majority) believed that their well-being would improve throughout the life cycle. The highest ultimate goal that the average family aspired to achieve was the purchase of their own housing, a car, a variety of household appliances that facilitate domestic work and free up time, and children's higher education. We can say that family life was based on economic and psychological stability - most people had confidence or at least hope for the future. Now everything is not so clear.

First of all, the era of professional housewives, the product of high economic growth, has come to an end along with the past century. Living on the salary of one spouse for many families is not only financially difficult, but also risky - there is no certainty that this or that company will not go bankrupt, this or that person will not lose his job. The probability of divorce has also increased. In addition, many middle-aged men whose wives do not work experience a certain sense of dissatisfaction, they seem to suffer, especially when they see how successful or simply supplement the family budget of the wives of others. On the other hand, there is a growing number of women who do not want to be completely dependent on their husband and are seeking to work outside the home, at least part-time. There are also women who are able to provide a high standard of living for both their husbands and children; cases of self-purchase of housing by women are not uncommon.

In Japan, for a relatively long time, people have been talking about the need to move away from the traditional system of sharing responsibilities between husband and wife and build a cooperative relationship between representatives of both sexes. At the same time, it is significant that if at the turn of the 1980s-1990s the term "society of joint work of men and women" was used, then at the turn of the 1990s-2000s we are already talking about a "society of equal participation of men and women". In other words, it has come to be understood that women should receive help and all possible assistance in combining their roles as a housewife, giving birth and raising children, and working outside the home. Apparently, this should be considered as an objective dictate of the times - the decline in the birth rate and the aging of the population make this task more than relevant.

The current birth rate means not only a decline in the overall population, which is projected to begin in the very near future3, but also a rapidly progressive aging of the nation4 and the associated increase in the burden on the working population in terms of social security. The appearance of special collections in highly reputable Japanese publications devoted to the problems of reducing the birth rate, equal participation of women in society, and creating conditions for them to combine productive work and family responsibilities is significant. For example, in the February 20, 2001 issue of Economisuto magazine, the headline "If men change, women will have children" was placed on the front page of the cover, preceded by the heading "Japan that doesn't want to have children".

The point is that in contrast to earlier times, when women were oriented to the home, without thinking about what their own aspirations are, it became necessary to create conditions that would allow women to combine domestic and professional responsibilities, or rather, raising children and realizing their potential in other areas-whether it is work, social life movement, politics, and finally just a hobby. In addition, the point of view that indicates the illegality of expecting a woman to "take on" all household chores and raising children is becoming increasingly widespread. Young Japanese women no longer just want more help from their husbands (which was observed around the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, and earlier this was not even mentioned at all), but expect a fair joint distribution of homework.

page 16


Under the influence of policies in Japanese society, most women were characterized by the following life cycle model: work before marriage, leaving work at the time of birth and raising children, and working part-time after the children grow up. Accordingly, unlike, say, American women, whose employment curve by age group is a trapezoid (increases, keeps approximately at the same level and falls), the employment curve of Japanese women has the shape of the letter "M", with two "peaks": the first refers to the age group of 20-25 years and the second - 45-49 years old, which in the 90s exceeded the first one. Now women of this age group are leading in terms of participation in social work. Undoubtedly, this situation, on the one hand, clearly reflects the increased employment opportunities for the fairer half of women simultaneously with the expansion of the service sector and the transition to the post-industrial stage of development. On the other hand, there is a slight decrease in the proportion of women quitting work between the ages of 25 and 34, which indicates both that an increasing number of women continue to work even during pregnancy and raising young children, and that the number of women who postpone marriage or give it up altogether has increased.

At the same time, there is another new trend - a slight increase in employment in the oldest age group-more than 65 years, which is a direct consequence of insufficient pension provision, improvement in overall health and later onset of physiological old age, as well as the desire of some to somehow occupy themselves - children and grandchildren have grown (and many of the latter have not raised), in addition, in some cases, women live longer than men 5 .

Obviously, over time, the first "peak" of Japanese women's employment will continue, and the second, which has already exceeded the first, is likely to increase even more. The drop in employment at the time of birth and parenting will decrease. In other words, you can predict that the shape of the letter "M" will be preserved, but with significant differences from its real shape - the middle will resemble a smooth curve rather than an acute angle, and its depth will be less.

The problem of equal joint participation of men and women in society, which has long been discussed in the country (various laws were adopted), along with the problem of the aging of the nation, will be one of the most important in Japanese society, at least for the next 20-30 years. The fact is that now the realization of the idea of equality is associated not so much with respect for human rights and the development of genuine democracy, but with ensuring the viability of the Japanese economy and society, primarily due to the fact that women make up half of the population are the main potential reserve of the labor force in an aging society, and social production can be compensated for the labor shortage expected in the twenty-first century. It is not surprising, therefore , that" gender equality "along with the development of information technologies has become one of the key concepts of the XXI century6, and a new" White Paper " has appeared in the country - on equal participation of men and women in society.

Hiring women, in fact, was still considered a "social burden" for businesses in Japan, and those who hired women acted as a kind of benefactor. The main duty of a woman in the country from the end of the XIX century and throughout the XX century was to perform the duties of a wife, mother and daughter. So far, social security policies have been designed to compensate for the lack of development of this area through the efforts of daughters and daughters-in-law, who are expected to take care of elderly parents. There are regions in Japan where progress is already being made in the field of equal sharing of all responsibilities between men and women in solving family problems, but there are also those where the development of this inevitable process is still met with opposition. It is still too early to talk about real changes, but it is noteworthy that there are already precedents when fathers take parental leave; let them be few, but the fact itself is important!

Although much will depend on the women themselves, it seems that the time has passed when it was possible to talk about the wide opportunities for a woman to choose a life cycle model at her own discretion -

page 17

pursue a career, combine family and professional responsibilities while working part-time, or devote yourself entirely to your family. The latter, in particular, has become less real for both economic and psychological reasons, as women are dominated by real circumstances. In general, the role of marriage in the lives of modern Japanese women has significantly decreased, primarily due to radical changes in the economy and society, and it has ceased to be the only possible option for women's life cycle. In modern Japan, it is no longer an exotic figure for a woman who either does not want to marry at all, or prefers to do it much later and plans her life cycle at her own discretion.

According to the Human Development Index, which takes into account life expectancy, education level, national income, etc., in 2000, Japan ranked 9th out of 174 countries in the world. At the same time, according to the gender-based opportunity index, which is calculated on the basis of indicators reflecting the status of women in society (the level of income of women engaged in professional and skilled work, participation in government, the share of women in parliament, etc.), the country is only 41st among the 70 most developed countries mira 7 . Japanese society is still highly divided by gender. And it's not just about participation in politics and governance (which is growing, and the appointment of M. Tanaka to the post of Foreign Minister in 2001, which was replaced in February 2002 by E. Kawaguchi), even the most common type of leisure activities are separate meetings of men and women.

Despite the adoption of a number of legislative acts and some progress in the development of abilities, Japanese women are still in a slightly worse position than women in other highly developed countries.

But even in this respect, Japanese society is changing dynamically. First of all, the growth in the number of families where both spouses are engaged in productive work (other than the family business) is in itself a revolutionary shift for the Land of the Rising Sun. Undoubtedly, this will increasingly affect Japanese society as a whole.


If earlier young people only dreamed of getting into a large company and becoming a "cog" in the giant machine 8, now about 13 percent of university graduates prefer to first look around, try themselves in different areas. Such people are called "furita" in Japan ("freeters" - from the English "free" and German "to work"). Their appearance became possible as a result of increasing the level of income of the population. The younger generation grew up in a rich Japan, and they don't know even a small fraction of the problems that their fathers and grandfathers faced, thanks to whose work their country became the world's second economic power.

Motivation to work in Japan has significantly decreased, which to some extent is an objective and inevitable process, since stability is becoming a thing of the past, labor mobility is growing, and its diversification is increasing. Back in the late 1980s, at the height of the bubble economy , instead of criticizing the "workaholism" of the Japanese, they began to talk about the loss of their traditional spirit of hard work.

Men, like women, began to change jobs. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that the benefits of working until a certain age in one place have decreased, and on the other hand, the number of men who do not want to focus on the "deferred salary" model, which was essentially offered by the lifetime employment system, which assumed an increase in wages depending on seniority, has increased. This system is becoming a thing of the past, and this is natural, especially given the information revolution, when people of young age groups are increasingly becoming generators of ideas and developers of innovations. In the mid-1990s, approximately four percent of employees changed jobs mid - career, compared to five percent in 2000.

The attitude towards family and children is changing. If earlier a family was unthinkable without children, then by the end of the 90s only about 10 percent

* "Soap bubble" - multiple increases in the prices of stocks and land in isolation from their real value.

page 18

young men and women were associated with marriage and the birth of children. Compared to other developed countries

Japanese countries are characterized by a lower desire for divorce, 9 but young people are not in a hurry to get married: the marriage rate, which was about 10 ppm in Japan throughout the 20th century, fell to 6 by the end of it. The average age of first marriage has increased, and the proportion of men and women who have never been married, according to It is projected to reach 20 percent and about 14 percent in 2020, respectively.

Despite the fact that about 90 percent of people aged 18-35 have the intention to marry during their lifetime, a certain part of them consciously choose a single lifestyle. In Japanese society, a fundamentally new model of the life cycle has appeared - the model of the so-called "parasitic loners" (in Japanese, "parasaito singuru"), which now number approximately 10 million people .11 These are working young people of both sexes who first postpone marriage and live together with their parents, taking advantage of all the benefits provided to their children in the parental home, and freely dispose of their own income (to purchase expensive things, entertainment, foreign trips, etc. at their own discretion), and then, not wanting to allow their own life to fall. people who are hesitant to get married.

Such a trend means the formation of a new kind of life cycle: later marriage or celibacy, the absence of children or the birth of one child leads to a lack of reasons to strive for an increase in income, and ultimately, a decrease in labor motivation. Now 26 percent of households are made up of one person.

Currently, a serious problem is that all social systems in Japan were built not only on the basis of a 60-year life cycle, but also its uniformity - the family with children was placed in the center, and the traditional division of roles between the sexes was the initial premise. Scientists are still mostly talking about the need for perestroika to take into account the new realities, but judging by the content of the ongoing reforms, it seems that it has not reached the state level, although in many respects the preservation of the existence of the previous systems has turned into a real obstacle to further development. First of all, it should be noted that the specifics of the organization of recruitment and insurance systems hinder the wider involvement of women in public work, since if the annual income of the spouse of an employee does not exceed a certain amount, she has significant tax benefits and does not pay either pension or health insurance premiums. It is not profitable for individuals who have their own business to be co-owners . In terms of taxation, it is also more profitable for them to have a husband hire his wife to work, that is, a greater contribution of women is essentially undesirable. Thus, many women in the interests of their families do not seek to increase their own income and often find themselves in a dependent position on men.

In the twenty-first century, the role of women will significantly increase, and it is likely that the approach to family and single people in society will become fundamentally new. The latter will not be seen as an "exception to the rule", and social systems will gradually put all members of society in equal conditions, regardless of gender and family status.

1 Asahi ki-wa-do. Tokyo, 2001, p. 334.

2 Now all citizens of the country over the age of 45 are required to pay additional insurance premiums of 1,700 yen per month, and over the age of 65-4 thousand yen. These contributions are automatically deducted from their salary or pension.

3 If current fertility trends continue, it is projected that Japan's population will begin to decline after peaking at 128 million in 2007. - See, for example, Statistical Handbook of Japan 2000. Tokyo, 2000, p. 8-9.

4 The Population ageing index, calculated as the ratio of people over 65 to children under 14, increased from 14 per cent in 1950 to 113 per cent in 1999. See Asahi shimbun. Japan Almanac 2001. Tokyo, 2000, p. 59.

5 In 1999, the average life expectancy in Japan was 83.99 years for women and 77.1 years for men. - See Asahi shimbun. Japan Almanac 2001, p. 225.

6 ESP, 2001, N 4, p. 8.

7 ESP, 2001, N 4.

8 It is known that in Japan, a person is usually hired in a company in general, and not for a specific position, that is, the person who enters the job becomes a "company person", who can easily be transferred not only from one type of work to another, but also sent to another company's enterprise, regardless of where it is located. even if it is beyond the possibility of living in the same place.

9 Although there is a growing trend in the number of divorces: in 1996, it first exceeded 200 thousand and since then has increased annually by almost 10 percent. - Asahi shimbun. Japan Almanac 2001, p. 62.

10 Japan Echo, 1996, vol. 23, Shecial issue, p. 11; The Japanese Family in Transition. Tokyo, 1998, p. 34, 59.

11 Asahi ki-wa-do, p. 156.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LJapan LWorld Y G


Nikamura NagasakiContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

I. TIKHOTSKAYA, Japan. The life cycle is changing // Tokyo: Japan (ELIB.JP). Updated: 04.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 25.06.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - I. TIKHOTSKAYA:

I. TIKHOTSKAYA → other publications, search: Libmonster JapanLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Nikamura Nagasaki
Nagasaki, Japan
13 views rating
04.06.2024 (21 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
"There are also shifts in Japan." Slavic scholar and critic Mitsuyoshi Numano-on the development of literature in two countries (Interview)
6 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
13 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
Catalog: History Law 
14 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
16 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
16 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
Yesterday · From Nikamura Nagasaki
Lone Soldier Island
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
3 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
3 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
3 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

ELIB.JP - Japanese Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners

Japan. The life cycle is changing

Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: JP LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Digital Library of Japan ® All rights reserved.
2023-2024, ELIB.JP is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Preserving the Japan heritage


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android