The traditional gender roles—men as breadwinners and women as homemakers—are only supported by only 40 to 50 percent of people (NHK 1994; Ministry of Public Management 1995). Among younger couples, more flexible gender roles are becoming popular. Although attitudes are changing, actual behaviors are not: Japanese men do only twenty to thirty minutes' worth of domestic work per day, while women spend three and a half hours in household chores.
Husbands and wives report very little communication and conversation, as little as ten to fifteen minutes per day. The writer Iku Hayashi first coined the term kateinai rikon (domestic divorce) in 1983 to describe this situation. It means that there is no conversation, communication, and sexual relations between a husband and wife, but they do not divorce.
Roles for mothers and fathers are segregated. Childcare is regarded as the mother's responsibility; the father's domestic role is limited to small household repairs and playing with children on weekends. Full-time working wives also have the burden of housekeeping without help. Domestic help is not popular in Japan. When women need help in housekeeping work and childcare, their mothers help them, and working mothers prefer living close to their mothers' house for this reason. Husbands and wives call each other father and mother, even when children are not around. Japanese couples regard parental roles as more important than couple roles when they have children.
Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsJapan - Mating And Marriage, Gender Roles, Masculinity And Men's Suicide, Decreasing Number Of Children - Leave for Working Parents, Conclusion