Japanese Family and Marriage Life
Understanding the family and marriage life of the Japanese people has been a challenge to most in the current global society. The constant changes of the Japanese family structure, roles, and marriage system as explained in the nuclearization theory attests to the challenges most face in understanding their family and marriage life. Demographic transitions witnessed over the last four decades also compound to the challenges people encounter in the quest of understanding the family and marriage structure of the Japanese people (Kumagai 87). As such, this research paper analyzes in detail the family structure and marriage life of the Japanese people. The analysis considers both the traditional and the modern family structure and marriage life of the Japanese people.
Like many families of the Asian region, the Japanese family has extended family system that includes the distant relatives to the family as well as the dead. The "ie" (Japanese family structure) is highly attributable to the group oriented nature of the Japanese family as evidenced by the current family status. The "ie" in the Japanese family system also refers to the lineage of a family or the physical home of a family. As such, this shows that the "ie" reflects the traditional nature of the Japanese family that had unique beliefs, practices, and traditions that shaped the current family system of the Japanese people. Traditionally, the "ie" ordered the Japanese family as it consisted of the family head, children, successors, and the deceased. Different generations of the "ie" had specified roles as specified by the Confucian principles of benevolence and loyalty. For example, the young generations perceived their duty as loyalty to their parents for providing them with benevolence (Peterson 187).
Every individual in the Japanese family has the responsibility of raising and caring for the other members of the family and the larger society. Giving back to the society through different ways, such as taking part in activities that build the community was considered as the only way of repaying their debt (kindness from the society). In addition, the Japanese family also considered giving back to the society as the best way of improving the society for the next generations. As such, the family perceived continuity of its entity as the most critical aspect than any of the members of the family; hence the continuity of the "ie." The continuity of the family structure signifies the ability of the family members in working together and playing their roles within a family set up. However, the wake of the World War II saw the abolition of the "ie" as the legal unit of the Japanese family (Helm, Leslie 299).
Despite the abolition, the existence of the "ie" still stands to the present times. For instance, members of the family still conceptualize their unit as continuity of the "ie" irrespective of the legal bias. The continuity of the "ie" is also evidenced by the continued informal choosing of the head of the "ie" despite the legal restrictions from the federal government. The informal selection of the new head of the "ie" is attested by the selection of Kyoko Mori as the head of the "ie" after the death of his father (Hiroshi). It is highly recognizable that the "ie" plays a significant role as the microcosm of the Japanese family as a whole. The family operates under the influence of the primary principle of "ie" that recognizes the need for putting the family before individual's needs. The shogun system where the head of the family gives directions and decisions on behalf of the Japanese families characterizes these families (Kumagai 187).
The family structure of the Japanese people has a unique language. The difference in the politeness of the language used by individuals from different families (ie) attests to the unique nature of the family language. The language provides the members of the family with the informality and freedom of speech within the family than with other families. The Japanese patriarchal household comprises of different members, including the grandparents, their son, wife, and children. A larger percentage of the Japanese families choose male to become the head of the family, and the wife takes the position in cases of absence of the husband. In addition, the eldest son...
The gendered roles of a family define the "ie" of the Japanese family. The exemplified execution of the household duties among members of a family attests to the social construction of the "ie" by the Japanese families (Fujimura-Fanselow, Kumiko 65).
Until the recent past, women or wives took the responsibilities of cleaning, cooking and raising children while the husbands earned income for the family; hence, serving as the salary man of the family. However, the increasing number of women joining the workforce in the current global environment has reversed their traditional roles in the Japanese family structure. The traditional Japanese family aimed at extending its household rather than individuals. Extending the household contributed to the expansion of the kinship relationship, a factor that resulted in the strengthening of the "ie" of the family. The traditional view of the structure of the family in Japan shares great similarities with the view of most of the countries globally. As such, the similarities translate to the inability of the family structures to conform to the reality of the needs of the family (Takemaru, Naoko 145).
Although most historical analysts consider the Japanese family as digressive, various aspects of the society such as women's desire for independence and government policies influences the ideal and traditional values of the Japanese people. The Japanese government uses the ancient view of the Japanese family to develop an obligation culture towards their society. Although the current Japanese society has less multigenerational families than the past, the government has adopted policies that aim at providing for the elderly in the Japanese society. The current varieties of the Japanese family have contributed significantly to the degradation of the traditional values of the Japanese family. Such varieties include single parenthood, divorce, and career wife, which have influenced the structure of the Japanese families (Kumagai 44).
The Japanese people have a unique marriage life. Peterson (157) recognizes that Japanese marriages survive because of love and commitment the couples have towards each other. Psychographic analysis of the Japanese marriages shows that most of the people consider love marriages as more fragile as compared to the arranged marriages. The variance in the fragility of the two marriages occurs because couples in love marriages easily break up as compared to the arranged marriages. In addition, arranged marriages have a strong sense of legal and traditional bonding that make their breakage a difficult process. Despite the high rate of divorce in Japan, it is incomparable to the divorce rates in other developed nations such as the U.S. And Britain. Comparative analysis of the developed countries with the strongest family structures and marriages puts Japan among the top states with stable marriages (Helm, Leslie 258).
Although practicing of the traditional marriages gas disappeared in most of the global states, Japan remains a prominent exception. A survey conducted by the Japanese Research Institute found that a significant percentage of the Japanese population (47%) still considers practicing of traditional marriage the best alternative for the Japanese people. A variety of factors influences the Japanese people to get married. Social factors such as social isolation, identity, and loneliness alongside economic factors such as the need for a better-planned financial future drive most of the Japanese population enter into the marriage institution. The Japanese social norms, ideologies, and values always equate marriage with adulthood; hence, the driving force behind marriages in Japan (Kumagai 225).
Authors such as Tokuhiro, Yoko (87) and Takemaru, Naoko (108) postulate that Japanese marriages occur due to the influence of the principle of legitimacy. The principle states that the children have a right to have a socially recognized biological father; hence, the need for entering into the institution. Traditionally, the Japanese culture prohibited forms of marriages such as the same-sex marriages and divorce. The society considered such marriages as the violation of the stated societal norms, the fact that strengthened the need for commitment to marriage institutions. In addition, the traditional Japanese society was characterized by polygamy and wife inheritance. However, the arrival of the industrial revolution witnessed a shift in focus from the traditional forms of marriages of modern marriage due to the influence of economic and social constraints (Peterson 45).
It is highly recognizable that many Japanese citizens marry as a way of meeting the required social expectation and bringing up their children. As such, this makes marriage in Japan as the only way of acquiring social acceptance and source of playing a better role in society. Typically, Japanese men marry at 30 years and women at approximately 28 years. Economic reasons such as to acquire better paying jobs drive most of the Japanese women to get…
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