This study outlines the social background and difficulties faced by one Japanese woman, Hanako, who is responsible for paid work, childcare, and housework.
Data were collected through interactive interviews and analyzed using Ueno’s qualitative analysis method. Specifically, data were collected using LINE, a smartphone app. The focus of the study is a woman who feels overwhelmed by her attempt to handle all aspects of her paid work, childcare, and housework.
The study identified three factors that prevent Japanese women from playing a more active role in society. First, in Japan, the role of a married woman as a full-time homemaker is widely accepted. However, many women are now continuing to work after getting married and giving birth. If there had been no historical culture of a woman’s career as a full-time homemaker, there would be no expectation that women would be solely responsible for housework and childcare, and it would be seen as a matter of course that Hanako would continue to work while her husband took on the housework and childcare duties. Second, there are few women who are able to serve as role models for handling both paid work and childcare. Women in Japan are often forced to choose between paid work and childcare, and women who are both employed and in charge of childcare are a minority. Third, many husbands’ awareness of the marriage system is not rooted in notions of gender equality. Hanako, who wants to continue working after giving birth, is unable to find a partner who will support her. She needs a partner who understands women’s social situation and her desire to continue working, and who is willing to share the housework and childcare duties. In short, they need to understand each other.