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Thanks for all your comments on this very interesting and important topic. I think one big problem that is very difficult for Westerners (including Kattie) to understand is the degree to which Japanese people give priority to work over everything else. It’s the difference between “working to live” and “living to work.”

I was particularly interested to read the comments about temporary workers. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but the government is changing the employment law from this April. Under the new rules, any company who employs someone on a temporary contract for more than five years will have to offer that person permanent employment. (I know about this because it will also apply to part-time university teachers, so it was announced in the 教授会 the other day.)

I can see what the government are trying to do with this policy, but of course, it will not work. In fact, it will probably have a very negative effect on workers, as they will either be fired or just moved to a “kogaisha” at the end of their fourth year of employment. In other words, they will have even less job security than they have now. To be honest, I can’t blame young Japanese people for not wanting to get married or have children.

The biggest problem of the declining population is that the majority of voters are old people. People being people, we vote for what we think will be best for us personally, not what will be best for the long-term future of the country. In both the UK and Japan, I think the older generations have basically robbed the younger ones to fund a great lifestyle for ourselves.

Anyway, here is some feedback on your comments.

I was able to link it!
I was able to open the link.

How wonderful members they are!
Aren’t they kind! (“How 〜 you/they are” is quite old-fashioned.)

Perhaps, I just lacked toughness, but I couldn’t do but give up work.
Perhaps I just wasn’t tough enough, but I felt like giving up work was the only thing I could do.

“feel obligated to” is now only in standard use in American English and some dialects such as Scottish, having disappeared from British English by the 20th century, being replaced by “obliged”.(it was previously used in the 17th through 19th centuries)
I didn’t know that. Thanks!

I know all my friends are not really interested in seeing flowers, but in eating and chatting!!
I know that all my friends are more interested in eating and chatting than they are in seeing the flowers!

I’m also the one who quit working after giving birth to my first child.
I’m another one who quit working after giving birth to my first child.

For some Japanese women “a university degree” is just like an accessory in their background to find a good husband.
This is, unfortunately, very true. I once knew a man who said that his company used to like employing graduates of XXX University as office ladies. When I asked him why, he said, “Because the fees are very high, so students who go there must come from reasonably rich families. That means they will make good wives for our employees.” (I would love to see Kattie’s face as she reads this!)

Actually, I’m not really sure if this is because of Japanese women’s lazy nature or because of Japan’s male society, but I guess it is the second one.
… but I guess it is the latter.

but soon I expected little of his help.
but I soon gave up expecting him to help.

Keep working is not easy,
It is not easy to keep working,

Do you think it is necessary to work so many hours and do so much overtime?
We discussed this before in an entry called “The Busy Myth.” The problem in Japan is not that people are expected to work hard, but rather that they are expected to stay in work for a long time. It’s more about appearances than anything else, especially for young people. I knew a junior high school teacher once who used to leave work at 5.30 every day to go swimming. She was a far better teacher than most of her colleagues, and she worked about 100 times more efficiently than they did, but she had a reputation for being “not a hard worker” because she left so early. Unfortunately, that is just the reality of working life in Japan.

It is embarrasing as the third economically powerful country:Japan, the worst developed country for mothers
It is embarrassing that as the third most economically powerful country, Japan is still the worst developed country for mothers.

I don’t think those small companies can afford to employ regular workers, but who can work only for short hours unless they receive government support.
… regular workers who can only work for limited hours …

I wonder if Japanese women just don’t feel like making useless effort because they know well that they can’t get payed or promoted as same as men in Japanese society.
I wonder if Japanese women are just unwilling to waste their time and effort, knowing that they will not have the same opportunities for pay rises and promotion as men in Japanese society.

I’m very busy preparing for moving to Tokyo, in where I’ll have to start working from April.
Congratulations on your new job, and good luck with the move. I hope you won’t be too busy to write comments!

I think what mothers here said was really true and much more women should work.
Japan has only three choices: 1) get more women working; 2) allow more immigration; or 3) live with a continually falling GDP.

so they didn’t want to work but they worked reluctantly.
so they worked because they had to, not because they wanted to.

I don’t think the systems is not bad. However, it is not only reason of this problem.
I’m not saying that the system is good, but I don’t think it is the only cause of this problem.

I think Tomoaki has a point here.
Nice sentence.

Because there are so many older people in this country, and their votes support the current government.
This is probably the biggest problem that Japan faces. The country is run by old people (actually, old men!) who are voted in by other old people. Old men tend to be conservative, traditional, and very resistant to change. That is why the only thing you ever hear them talking about is “getting back to Japan’s wonderful past.” They have no ideas about the future, and young people do not have a voice.

It’s really a waste that a lot of Japanese parents work hard to send their daughters like you mention above to universities.
It’s a waste of our teaching, too!

As I mentioned, I don’t think all women in Japan are chasing their career like Nobuko
… are as career-minded as Nobuko

I really wish if we had those, too, because the longer your period of leave gets, the more difficult it gets to catch up. I
Nice sentence, but you don’t need the first “if.”

Most of all women around me have jobs and I don’t have anyone who is full time mum besides my youngest sister,
Most of the women around me have jobs, and I don’t know anyone who is a full-time mum except my youngest sister.

As Kattie mentioned, women who want to return to work after having children should be given the chance to do so, but I don’t think people who stay at home should be criticised, either.
Nice sentence.

My husband retied yesterday
Congratulations! I hope he doesn’t get under your feet too much!

after he fell down cerebral hemorrhage
I think “after he had a stroke” would be the most natural way to say this.

After retired, hunbands don’t know how to live everday life, always follow after wives, and don’t do anything. It’s really stressful for housewives.
Kattie might not know this, but there has been a large increase in the number of “silver divorces” in recent years. These happen when husbands who were never at home retire, and the wives realize that they don’t actually like them very much!

David, if you are reading this, I’d love to hear what your students think about this issue.
I’m afraid that none of my students are around at the moment. One of them is staying with Kattie, though, so she might write a comment tomorrow.

Most of mothers in my generation is working ,mostly part-time though.
Most mothers of my generation are working, although most of them are only part-time.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend.

26 Comments

  1. Biwa on Friday March 29th, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback.
    I didn’t know about the change in employment law, so I googled some articles. I think it’s pretty unfair to the employers. If the government really wants to accomplish their aims, I think they need to do other things at the same time. The government, employers and workers should share the burden altogether. It’s too natural that a lot of employers start thinking like that.

    By the way, does the word “ourselves” in your sentence below include you? Or does it mean “the older generation”? I’m just asking because I always include myself in the “younger”(lol!) as I really feel like being robbed, too. Especially things like my future pension!

    >In both the UK and Japan, I think the older generations have basically robbed the younger ones to fund a great lifestyle for ourselves.

    Hi everyone,

    I forgot to ask this yesterday.
    Can someone translate “legal recruitment” for me? Kattie said that she works there, but I can’t figure out what kind of department it is in Japanese.



  2. Fumie on Saturday March 30th, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    Actually, I’m worrying about my sons’ future even if they don’t get marry. I’m worrying whether they can have a good job or not. I don’t want them to be parasite singles too.

    Hi YU,

    >I think it’s very natural because you have older children. I guess most of your friends’ children are elementary school students or above. But I don’t think it’s very easy for mothers having very young children like me to work fulltime or even part-time in Japan.
    You have a point!
    The time until children get into elementary school is crucial time. I wanted to spend time with them so I was a full-time mom until my youngst son got into a nursery school at age 3. Then I started work for short time.

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback. It was an interesting discussion.

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone!



  3. Biwa on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    Hi everyone,

    Does legal recruitment mean 法律関係の仕事を紹介する人材派遣? So, maybe it’s an agency, not a department.



  4. YU on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Hi David,

    Thank you always for your feedback.

    > These happen when husbands who were never at home retire, and the wives realize that they don’t actually like them very much!

    I heard the other day that the first(or main?) cause of older Japanese women’s disieases is actually stress by their husbands. I suspect this has a lot to do with their husbands’ retirement.

    > The country is run by old people (actually, old men!)

    By the way, did you hear that Ishihara had been hospitalized for a stroke?

    May I ask you a question?

    A and B should mean the same.

    A) My brother was given a watch, but he broke it a week later.

    B) My brother broke the watch that he( ①had )( ②been )given a week( ③ ).

    model answer : ③ before

    student’s answer : ③ earlier

    I think student’s answer is correct, too.
    Am I right?

    Hi Anne,

    > he shares a lot of household….now he prepared breakfast every day for both of us:)

    You’re lucky!
    I wrote this before, but the husband of a friend of mine from my English club is over 60 and retired. She told me that he did nothing around the house, but she wasn’t unhappy with it. They don’t have children, but they have three dogs. They never travel because they have dogs.
    I don’t think I can get along with a husband like him, but he is HER husband, and she is satisfied, so there’s nothing to say!

    Have a great weekend, all!



  5. Kattie on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 03:47 AM

    Hi everyone,

    Nice to meet you. I am Keiko. I am in my second year at Gifu Univercity. At the moment I staying at Kattie’s house.

    I am interested in this topic. Before I came here, I thought it was usual man isn’t do house work. When I came here, I saw Tom(Kattie’s hasband) cook. Because they share house work, they have more time to talk and take it easy together.

    When I think about this topic, I think it is important to share housework and child care because It is easier for women to go back to work after she has a child.

    I understand it is difficult to change men’s minds but I want to share housework and child care when I have a hasband and I want to work after I have a child.



  6. Kattie on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 04:05 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I just helped Keiko post her comment and I saw that some of you were asking what legal recruitment is. Legal recruitment is concerned with finding jobs for people in the legal sector. I have my own small legal recruitment agency and I work with just one colleague, we specialise in finding jobs for lawyers in commercial law firms in Central London. I hope this explains what I do!

    I hope you are all having a lovely weekend and enjoying the cherry blossoms. It is still very cold here and I am fed up with winter!



  7. Fumie on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 06:20 AM

    Hi Keiko,

    Nice to meet you, too! You must be having a wonderful time at Kattie’s. She and Tom are great hosts. Kattie talked us that they do many things for guests, care for them to entertain to make their stay as good as possible.
    Thank you for sharing your idea about the topic. Like you, a lot of women will get back to work after giving birth to children, so husbands should help with housework and childcare. Please enjoy the rest of your stay!

    Hi Kattie,

    I think I understand what you do: your job. I don’t think there aren’t anyone who is specialized to do such jobs in Japan. I’m not sure though.



  8. Kattie on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 08:15 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    > I don’t think there aren’t anyone who is specialized to do such jobs in Japan.

    Oh I see, that’s why it’s hard to understand. To be more specific the clients are the law firms and they only pay me a fee if I find a lawyer for them. Sometimes they tell me about a vacancy they have or, if a lawyer comes to me who I think is good, I go to the types of firms that I think might be interested in employing them. Experienced lawyers might have some very good skills but they’re not always very good at identifying what makes them stand out and marketing themselves also, they don’t necessarily know the types of firms to approach, so we help with tailoring their CVs, writing business plans and that type of thing. Since the recession started it has been hard because a lot of law firms have been getting rid of people and not taking people on and also they don’t want to pay our fees.



  9. Biwa on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 08:33 AM

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you! Now I get what you do!

    The problem was that I was only looking at one side(meaning) of the word “recruitment”. So I first thought that you were working in the personnel, but why “legal”, then? Then I thought maybe “legal department” in some company, but usually, in Japan, the personnel does the recruitment.

    Anyway, your job sounds very interesting, and also very effective for both firms and job-seekers. As Fumie said, generally, people register with agencies, and are sorted by their specialities afterwards. By the way, “CV” was new to me. I knew only words like “personal history” or “resume”. Thanks!



  10. Biwa on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 08:49 AM

    Hi Keiko,

    Lovely to hear from you. Have fun and enjoy the rest of your stay!

    P.S. When you come back, I hope you tell how nicely Kattie and Tom share the housework together, especially to your “male” classmates!



  11. Kattie on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 09:01 AM

    Hi Biwa

    >but usually, in Japan, the personnel does the recruitment.

    That is also the case in the UK, especially in the larger firms and we often deal with personnel/HR (HR stands for Human Resources) but lawyers often want advice about which firms would suit them best and also help with negotiating their terms of employment (e.g. salary, hours, commission structure, career progression, restrictive covenants, holidays) and they want to go to an agent first. Some personnel people are okay but a lot of them find it hard to ‘think outside the box’ and will only be interested in filling specific vacancies so sometimes we like to go to the partners (senior management) directly, or deal with smaller firms who don’t have too much bureaucracy!



  12. Mika on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 09:21 AM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback.

    Hi Anne and everyone,

    Good morning!

    I have uploaded my few wreath’s pictures on Google+.
    https://plus.google.com/photos/100433501688709699244/albums/5861292480970192753



  13. Biwa on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 09:27 AM

    Hi Kattie,

    >but a lot of them find it hard to ‘think outside the box’

    Yes, I think so, too. I think we call your job a “niche job/industry” in Japan. I understand people like you are much more specialized and good at flexible thinking and also quick to respond than those who are in larger firms. If I were a lawyer, I sure would go to your place first!

    It’s like we’re back in winter this week, and I’m wearing my coat again. I hate the cold weather, but it’s good for the cherry trees because the blossoms will last longer!



  14. Anne on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback as always.
    >I hope he doesn’t get under your feet too much!
    –I don’t think this would happen! He sometimes vacation solo and so do I. We share lots of things including houseworks:) Preparing for breakfast is just the thing he want to do By the way, the expression “get under feet” is new to me. This is often used to animals or babies,right? In my case,I understood it as “彼があなたの居場所をおびやかしてうっとうしくならないことを願っています.”  Did I get the meaning across?

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you for explaining the word “legal recruitment.” Biwa, thank you for asking!
    I’m wondering if your job is common or not in the UK. The job sounds interesting and I bet you are so talented and super woman!

    Hi YU,
    >You’re lucky
    –Yes, I think so:) Are you preparing for your son going to the kindergarten?

    Hi Keiko,
    Nice to hear from you.
    I bet you are having a lovely time with kattie and Tom. Not only learning English but also sharing time with wonderful people is a wonderful thing,right?
    You-must have lots of things to talk about what you have experienced there after returning to Japan, aren’t you?

    Hi Mika,
    Thank you for sharing pictures!
    All of them are nice, especially the first one is very unique and gorgeous. I admire you.

    Hi everyone,
    It’s cloudy today and a bit cold, but cherry blossoms are in full bloom near my house. There is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot in Aichi(maybe in Japan) near my house, so I took a walk a couple of times this week.

    Anne



  15. amo on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Hi Biwa,

    I was going to write about your question but you already got it.
    I usually don’t translate English to Japanese, so I didn’t know a proper Japanese for that words when I read your question. I googled “legal recruitment” and I found the word “リーガル リクルーター” so I thought that it’s hard to translate into Japanese.

    Hi Keiko,

    Nice to have you with us.
    >I thought it was usual man isn’t do house work.
    To tell the truth, I was a bit surprised to know that you said so. I didn’t think that your generation thought so. I mean, young people are seeking gender equality than older people. At least, young women think that way.
    Anyway, enjoy the rest of your stay there:)

    Hi everyone,

    I am going to eat out for lunch with my sister so I am off to go.
    Have a nice day.
    amo



  16. YU on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Hi Anne,

    I found an interesting picture explaining the meaning of the expression “get under someone’s feet”.

    Here it is ;

    http://www.geocities.jp/hisako_strodthoff/EnglishIdioms/getundersomeonesfeet.htm

    > Are you preparing for your son going to the kindergarten?

    Yes, I’ve nearly finished it.
    His kindergarten is a bit fuss over small details.
    I had to buy the cloth designated by them and sew his school bag and indoor shoes bag following the designated pattern.
    This is very unusual for kindergartens in my area. You can just buy them at a shop or at least you can choose any kind of cloth you like if your chidren go to other kindergartens!

    Hi Mika,

    Thank you for sharing the pictures of your wonderful works!
    You’re amazing!
    Why don’t you do business with it?

    Hi Keiko,

    Nice to hear from you!

    > I think it is important to share housework and child care because It is easier for women to go back to work after she has a child.

    I agree, it is very true that husbands’ support in housework or childcare is essential to realize it, but I also think that is just a part of all other culture that we need to change to enable more women to keep working after their marriage or childbirth. I think you can not change current working culture in Japan for yourself, but our government can lead in changing it.
    Anyway, I hope things will be improved when you get married and have children in the futrue!

    He everyone,

    I went to see cherry blossoms in a park with my friends the day before yesterday. The weather that day was ideal for flower viewing.
    They started to fall right when we were having our lunch. It was very beautiful and tasteful scenery!!



  17. YU on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    correction :

    > I think you can not change current working culture in Japan for yourself,

    I don’t think you can change….



  18. David on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 01:29 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I do include my generation in that statement. People of my age received our university education for free. It was paid for by the taxes of the generation who went before us. When it came to be our turn, however, we introduced fees, and now young people have to take on huge debts if they want to go to university.

    Hi YU,

    Your student’s sentence is fine.

    Hi Keiko,

    Thanks for writing a comment. I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures when you get back.



  19. Anne on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 04:31 PM

    【corrections】
    >but also sharing time with wonderful people is a wonderful thing,right?
    —but also sharing time with nice people is a wonderful thing,right?

    >You-must have lots of things —I’m sure you’ll have lots of things

    I made lots of spelling mistakes besides these ones, but I don’t correct them here. It’s embarrassing…

    Hi YU,
    Thank you for letting me know an interesting site. The picture shows its meaning very well.

    > This is very unusual for kindergartens in my area
    —I understand what you mean. Actually, the kindergarten my younger son went to was the same policy as your son’s. I made everything, and there was no school lunch, so I made “お弁当” every day! There was no school(or幼稚園)bus, so I walked to the kindergarten with him every day!

    Anne



  20. Biwa on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 06:55 PM

    Hi David,

    I see. Of course, there is no clear border between generations, and I’m sure my generation receives more benefits than the next generation. However, it’s really shocking that we can’t receive our pension until 70. Most of the ordinary people did nothing wrong, went to work every day and paid taxes.

    Yesterday, my husband told me an interesting, and also shocking story. Most of his seniors do not retire at 65, but work for another 5 years, of course with a lower pay, perhaps 30% of what they used to get. Maybe this is the proper way to share the burden because if the company has to keep paying the senior employees, the younger generation will surely be affected.
    He also showed me a weird(?) article that says the cost for a compulsory education per child is equal to the medical cost per an elderly. So, the declining birthrate and aging society(considering that most of us will continue working until 70) will not change the total workforce in the long run. I don’t really believe this article, though.
    Anyway, it seems like it will take a lot more until we begin a nice after-retirement life!



  21. YU on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your help!

    Hi Biwa and everyone,

    > However, it’s really shocking that we can’t receive our pension until 70.

    Really? I thought it was until 65!

    > Most of his seniors do not retire at 65, but work for another 5 years, of course with a lower pay, perhaps 30% of what they used to get

    I heard that the government has revised the law to get more companies to keep employing those older employees. I think that is the last resort to raise the beginning age of pension, but it doesn’t sound productive at all to me.
    As you mentioned, if older employees just keep working longer at the same company to fill the gap before they receive pension, of course, there will be less jobs for younger people. If younger people can’t have a job, they don’t feel like marrying someone or having children.

    My elder brother told me that his company encouraged their employees to retire at earlier age, 55(or 58? I can’t remember it.). He is 43 now and he says that he wants to retire at 55(or 58) unless he becomes the excutive by that point.
    I want to ask him how he will survive without receiving pension for the ten years(55-65) when I see him next time.

    By the way, someone said on a TV show that Japan should try to utilize the workforce of older people in childcare industry more effectively.
    That might not be a bad idea.

    I think if elderly people were allowed to work in childcare industry, they would not feel lonely, it could prevent their dimentia and some other diseases, the children on the waiting list would reduce, more women would go back to work, and Japan would be richer! I’m too optimistic, I know it would surely cause many other problems, too!



  22. Fumie on Sunday March 31st, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you for describing your job. It seems that your job is very important both law firms and lawyers.
    >To be more specific the clients are the law firms and they only pay me a fee if I find a lawyer for them.
    So, if you don’t find a lawyer, you have to work for nothing.
    >Since the recession started it has been hard because a lot of law firms have been getting rid of people and not taking people on and also they don’t want to pay our fees.
    It’s seems tough.

    Hi Mika,

    Your works are all so nice. You can sell them at flea market or Gorokuichi (monthly event held in Hirakata). Mika and I live in the same city: Hirakata.

    Hi David,

    >People of my age received our university education for free.
    Lucky you! I wish I could send my sons to colleges for free.



  23. Kattie on Monday April 1st, 2013 at 09:08 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    >So if you don’t find a lawyer, you have to work for nothing.
    Unfortunately that’s right.

    Hi everyone,

    The cherry blossoms sound beautiful – Keiko showed me a photo of her friend surrounded by cherry blossoms and it was so pretty. We have cherry blossom here too but they’re nothing like yours.

    Hi Mika,

    It’s very interesting to see your wreaths, they are a different style to our wreaths and they look very intricate. Thank you for showing them to us, you are very clever.



  24. Biwa on Monday April 1st, 2013 at 09:21 AM

    Hi everyone,

    It’s April 1st today and I wonder if any of you have heard any jokes already.

    Hi YU,

    >Really? I thought it was until 65!

    Yes, you’re right. At the moment, we are supposed to receive pension from 65. However, it is said that it’s likely to be 70 when we become around that age.

    >If younger people can’t have a job, they don’t feel like marrying someone or having children.

    I think so, too, but most of the companies are facing the dilemma, I guess. My husband said that there are about 350 workers in his office, and a quarter are 60-70 years old (scary, isn’t it!), whereas only 10 new graduates are employed every year. He said gradually reducing the scale of business is unevitable. I really think that people need to change their minds, and accept that our future life is going to be very different from our parents’.

    By the way, I was talking with a friend of mine from elementary school yesterday. He is 45, and works in the IT business. He had a very different impression towards his younger colleagues. He said, in spite of the job-shortage, they quit work very easily saying “This project is not what I want to do.” He said it’s okay if they specialize in some fields and find a better place with better working conditions. However, to him, they just seem to misunderstand ‘freedom’ with ‘impatience’. They’re almost 30, not married and still live with their parents. (I hope I don’t sound like discriminating people!) He said it’s like a chicken-and-egg problem; is it because they keep quitting so easily (which means they don’t have a steady income) that they can’t get married, or is it because they aren’t married and still live with their parents so they actually ‘can’ quit so easily. I said I don’t know, either, but anyway, it made me think even more about my sons’ future!



  25. Mika on Monday April 1st, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Hi YU, Anne, Fumie and Kattie, 

    Thank you for the compliment.

    Hi David, Biwa and everyone,

    >It’s April 1st today and I wonder if any of you have heard any jokes already.
    Today is my birthday but not true birthday. I have a story about it.
    On April 1st, 1947 (Showa 22; Japanese Calendar), I was born in my house on a very small island in the Inland Sea. In those years almost all babies were born in their houses. In my case, a midwife helped my mother give birth to me. However, April 1st is not my true birthday. My true date of birth is March 26th. For goodness sake, what happened to me?
    The truth was that my father had worried about my academic ability and that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my lessons, therefore he changed my birthday to April 1st on my birth certificate. He had thought that I would enter elementary school one year later than my appointed year.
    I’m not sure when public offices started verifying birth dates. In fact, many children’s dates of birth weren’t the same as their true ones. Sadly, before the Second World War and for some years after it, there were many poor people in Japan and the medical system was sadly lacking for pregnant women and their newborn babies. Even if a baby was born, many children died when they were babies or infants. Therefore, many parents had submitted their children’s birth after they believed their babies would grow up healthily. In view of the situation, my case was not a big problem because it was only 5 days after my true birthday.
    However, recently I heard that medically, children are said to have an equal learning ability after the first 2 years of elementary school. I can say that it was a very common idea which my father had considered concerning my academic ability.
    In Japan the school year begins on April 1st and ends on March 31st of the following year. However, unfortunately, my father didn’t know that children born between April 2nd and April 1st of the following year are put in the same year at school. So, despite the best intentions of my father, I began school the same year as if I had been born on March 26th.
    Many years later I invited two of my friends to my house on my 12th birthday, but one of the girls didn’t come because she thought it was an April Fool’s joke. However, luckily, the other girl visited my birthday party. Her birthday is on March 27th, 1947 and I heard my true date of birth from her mother when I was a junior high school student.
    Anyway, my official birthday is on April 1st. Happy April Fool’s Day!



  26. YU on Monday April 1st, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Hi Mika,

    Thank you for sharing your birth story.
    May I say “Happy birthday” to you today?!

    > However, recently I heard that medically, children are said to have an equal learning ability after the first 2 years of elementary school.

    My mother was born in 1940. (She already died, by the way.)
    She has once told me that her birth date in the family resister was January 16th, but actually she was born on January 15th. I can’t remember if there were some reasons for why her parents resistered her birth date one day late, though.

    > However, recently I heard that medically, children are said to have an equal learning ability after the first 2 years of elementary school.

    I didn’t know that, thank you.
    However, it seems that parents around me still try to avoid “producing” children born in March.
    They seem to calculate their future baby’s birth date in advance and do “it”! (lOl)
    Apparently, if it is planned to be a Caesarean section, and if it is unfortunately(?) at the end of March or April 1st, most parents ask their doctor to put off it to April 2nd or later!

    Hi Biwa,

    > However, to him, they just seem to misunderstand ‘freedom’ with ‘impatience’

    There are pros and cons regarding the matter.
    I think most Westners and some young Japanese people are for those young people, but for most of my generations and above, they are humans with an entirely different nature.

    > He said it’s like a chicken-and-egg problem; is it because they keep quitting so easily (which means they don’t have a steady income) that they can’t get married, or is it because they aren’t married and still live with their parents so they actually ‘can’ quit so easily. I said I don’t know, either

    I don’t know, either!
    I think it might also have something to do with Japan’s economic recession and their unclear future. It is often said that it’s unlikely that the pension system itself still exists when it comes to be their turn (30-40 years later). So, I don’t mean to side with them, but I know what they mean. If I were them, I might not feel like working for the same company for 40 years paying a lot of tax every month even though they couldn’t receive anything when they get old, either.



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