NYTimes: “Japan’s Working Mothers: Record Responsibilities, Little Help From Dads”

Motoko Rich, Tokyo bureau chief for the New York Times, in a bilingual article on modern motherhood:

Consider Ms. Nishimasa’s daily routine. The preschool her two youngest children attend requires the family to keep daily journals recording their temperatures and what they eat twice a day, along with descriptions of their moods, sleeping hours and playtime. On top of that, her 8-year-old son’s elementary school and after-school tutoring class require that a parent personally signs off on every homework assignment.

The paperwork, of course, is just the beginning. There is cooking, cleaning and laundry, often at a scale that far exceeds what most Westerners do. Cooking a typical Japanese dinner often involves preparing multiple small dishes. Packed lunches can be works of art. Dishwashers are not yet ubiquitous. And as for laundry, few families own dryers big enough for large loads, so wet clothes are generally hoisted on clotheslines.

She does the vast majority of it all.

This article contains no exposés or clichés about Japanese society. Rich quietly observes these exhausted moms. Perhaps she already knows, from the outset, that misogynistic bosses, preschool pressures and absent husbands are nothing new.

Three and a half years after Shinzo Abe told the world that Japan needs to make their women and elderly work before accepting any refugees, nothing has changed, and nothing might ever change. And that is the real tragedy that this article speaks to.