Back in September, around the time the baby prince was born, I posted a blurb about a new divorce law that would grant women half of their ex-husband’s pension. The law kicks in on April 1st. Which means what?
As with almost anything in the world, there are two sides to every story. In this case, it’s the male side and the female side. Now let me give you the low down on both:
THE MALE SIDE. Men work their entire lives, day and night, slaving away under the gynormous meta-corporation that owns them until their final day. Sure, they had a few affairs here and there with their secretaries and the unmarried OLs in their tight little uniforms. But that was just a small bonus for the hours of labor necessary to feed the wife and kids. 48.4 percent of men enjoy spending time with their wives after retirement. They’ve waiting long enough to reap the benefits of their hard-earned down time.
THE FEMALE SIDE. The wives got married young, and pretty much raised
their kids alone since their husbands were always working, playing
golf, out drinking with their co-workers, or sleeping with their
secretaries. Now, finally, the kids are out of the house, the hubby’s
still working, and the women have some alone time to enjoy. They spend
their days watching soap operas, taking art classes, chatting with
their girl friends at the cafe or the park, and window shopping at the
station building. They go home in the late afternoon to cook dinner and
draw baths for their husbands, who are usually tired and grumpy and
demanding. But it’s only a few hours before they both go to bed and
another day of freedom begins. Only 27.1% of women actually enjoy
spending time with their retired husbands. Most of them would rather be
When the government announced the new divorce law three years ago,
the divorce rate in Japan suddenly started to flail. Why? Experts
wondered. And then they figured out what was going on–the women were
waiting. Waiting until April 1st, when a divorce would grant them half
of their husband’s retirement money. By some estimates, there are
nearly 50,000 women waiting in the wings of divorce court.
I’ll keep you posted on how this affects the institution of marriage in Japan after April 07. Will Japan become like America–a nation mired in divorce? Or is the belief in happily ever after more profound than a hefty retirement sum?