Two posts in a row, but too long for a single one... Apologies.
Columbine wrote:I've heard men object to bringing up kids here, but if you have a Japanese wife you've got up the duff, it's a bit much to suddenly ask her to emigrate as well. Mostly they just get on and deal with it, relying on the fact that a Japanese wife has friends and family and local knowledge and language for support.
The thing is, it happens *all the time*. Most western men DO emigrate with their wives in tow - it is even one of the big reasons the majority of those marriages fail. The wife is usually taken home with the man, and is ultimately unable to deal with it.
I would say that far more of the western men remaining in Japan who I have met have their children in international school and run a "western" household than not.
I don't think those ladies gave particularly great reasons, although the education system here does take some getting your head around, but then perhaps they weren't really saying everything.
As far as reasoning goes, I would say it sounds very typical. Most of the time they are not in Japan long enough to know much about the school system other than surface observance and (often blatantly incorrect or seriously outdated) rumors from others. And if they plan to leave anyway, there is little incentive to look any deeper.
Firstly, most foreigners don't speak the language and don't have much incentive to learn, especially in Tokyo. With the best will in the world, frantically cramming for 9 months isn't going to remedy this, and there's still going to be a lot of medical jargon and so on you won't understand, plus registering your child, schooling, dealing with teachers, etc.
This may be true, but it is no different when the mother is Japanese and the father western. There is no change in incentives to learn the language... And... Well... I would hope that the thought of a child came up before pregnancy. Nine months of cramming isn't going to help, but thinking ahead about having a baby and having a partner who you can talk to is certainly going to.
Epidurals for one are apparently pretty rare.
This one is true...
Some hospitals don't allow the father into the room. Can you imagine being in that situation for a normal birth, never mind if something went wrong? I'm not saying it's impossible or that people can't or don't do it, but it's one hell of a big scary decision to make, especially if you're not really dove-tailed with being in Japan in the first place.
But this one falls into the big gaping ravine of "lack of knowledge about how things are done in Japan".
The terminology is correct - many hospitals
do not allow the father into the room. The key here is this - where do most women give birth? In clinics, or at a midwife facility. Not in a hospital.
Childbirth in Japan is not covered directly by health insurance. You are given a flat amount to cover the birth of a child, and are free to use it to pay for any sort of birth you so desire. This means that there are an enormous number of facilities offering custom, tailored birth packages that fit the insurance money. The majority of women give birth at one of these. Hospitals - those strict facilities with little flexibility and no father rules, etc - are for complications and emergencies. If you are in the hospital to give birth, chances are there is some sort of serious problem that may require major medical intervention that only a hospital can provide. If you are giving birth with a team of doctors on hand because you have some complication, it really isn't the place to be asking dad to come watch.
Giving birth in a foreign country is indeed a big decision to make, but often the reasons cited are misguided.
Also being foreign, you might have a much smaller, more widely dispersed number of friends, and your family is likely to be on the other side of the globe, which if you're close is going to be a strain. Finally, we're also likely to look at the lifestyle in Japan and compare it unfavourably to our own childhood, stereotypically speaking. I grew up with garden, two cats, a dog, riding lessons, and a vast track of farmland to muck about on. My parents could take us to the woods, or make jam with us or grow veggies on the weekend and still be within an hours commute of work in a big urban area. We weren't even rich by a long shot of the imagination, but the point is, if I had kids in Tokyo, they would probably never have a treehouse or go to tea at my mum and dads once a week.
This is no different for men and women, so I don't really think it plays a major role in the discrepancy between men and women in Japan.