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The Role of Women in Japanese Society Essay

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The place of women in Japanese society is an interesting blend of illusions and myth. It is within this illusion though that there are two distinct Japanese societies that of the public and private. However, the Western image of Japanese women is of the subservient Japanese woman and this image is real; it is however, only an image. Women in their private family roles’ often are dominant towards the male members of the household. When judged by Western standards, the women of Japan are unusually seen as dedicated to their families. Currently the position of women in Japanese society can be attributed to the vestiges of two old philosophies that of Confucianism and the Samurai. Not only has Japans’ society formed from these old vestiges it has also been formed by the influences of Buddhism. An example within Japanese society that shows the usage of these vestiges is how Japan barrowed Chinese Confucian heritage; a heritage where it is the value of the group over the value of an individual. Though still largely influential to the Japanese society today it has changed much since the opening of Japan in the mid-1800s to the end of World War II.
Though the old Confucian philosophy has not truly changed in regards to the success of the group which is reflected in a statement made by one woman reflects just that: "The weight of trying to reconcile individual achievement and the family will always be heavy here because of our group oriented value system." Additionally the importance of the group through Confucianism emphasizes the supreme position of the male, and a hierarchical power structure for society.
With the dawning of the Samurai in the 15th century C.E. this demarked a change within Japanese society which had largely bee...


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...earlier point - that husband are not physically available to participate. As in other issues which touch upon the home, the woman assumes a dominant position through the vacuum created by the absence of the husband. It has also been noted by one Japanese author that "As a professional housewife, [a woman] might offer some time for volunteer work. Furthermore, her responsibility for monitoring the family health may induce her to be alert to health hazards like industrial pollutions, food poisoning, medical malpractice, which may include her in consumer movements and ultimately in politics." As the role of Japanese women in society continues to evolve so will her position within politics, the work force and grassroots. Having already achieved a dominant role in issues involving the household it will only be a matter of time till women start acquiring public power.


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