Michiko Munakata

For Michiko Munakata's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

'Obachan' group aims to jolt politics

National Mar 5, 2013

'Obachan' group aims to jolt politics

Osaka, the epicenter of a political movement bent on change that has shaken the status quo, is home to another initiative to trumpet the unheard voices of women. Since last fall, more than 1,000 middle-aged and older women, mainly from Osaka, have joined an online ...

Search for work renders tattoos taboo

National Aug 3, 2012

Search for work renders tattoos taboo

While tattoos have long been associated with the underworld, especially large elaborate motifs depicting dragons and other mythical creatures, more discreet designs have become fashionable among the young in recent years. But Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's crackdown in May on tattooed municipal employees could be ...

National Mar 16, 2012

Grandparents seek visitation rights

While many divorced noncustodial parents in Japan have no choice but to battle acrimoniously to gain access to their children, the situation is also often painful for their own parents, who as grandparents have become separated from their grandchildren. Some grandparents who have been denied ...

Polish film resonates with elderly widows

National Jul 8, 2011

Polish film resonates with elderly widows

A Polish film about a woman in her early '90s has become a big hit with middle-aged and elderly Japanese women, apparently reflecting a social trend in which women increasingly aspire to spend their twilight years without relying on anyone's help. The 2007 film, "Time ...

National May 21, 2010

Women shake up male-dominated restaurants

Traditionally, restaurant kitchens are among the most male-dominated workplaces in Japan. However, thanks to a lot of talent, hard work and perseverance, some women are managing to break through the glass ceiling and in turn have become an inspiration for younger aspirants. Mika Yamasaki, 45, runs ...

National Apr 10, 2010

DPJ wavers on maiden names law

Unlike former conservative Liberal Democratic Party governments, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan has long backed a plan to allow a husband and wife to keep their respective surnames. But the ruling bloc — the DPJ, Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party) ...

National Feb 13, 2010

Poor aged moms grope to help adult offspring financially cope

While it is true that parenting is lifelong work, in Japan, some elderly mothers are struggling as they try to help their grownup sons and daughters make ends meet despite their own financial difficulties. There are increasing cases where elderly women living alone squeeze out ...

National Feb 10, 2010

Campus nurseries help new moms cope

Sayaka Shibata, 31, a graduate student in a medical research lab at the University of Tokyo, might not have returned to the lab after maternity leave if the university did not open an on-campus nursery. Launched in April 2008 on the Hongo main campus, the ...

National Sep 22, 2009

Will DPJ policy push women into work?

Even before she begins her career, Shiho Umeki, 22, has always planned to reduce her work after getting married, just like her mother before her. That was until the Democratic Party of Japan won the Aug. 30 election. The change in the political landscape has ...

Ex-Tokyoite now Oman's educator 'in desert'

National Apr 21, 2009

Ex-Tokyoite now Oman's educator 'in desert'

Suad Mohammed Al-Mudhaffar, originally Mihoko Morita hailing from the Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa, went to Oman after her divorce together with her daughter to teach Japanese culture there. She became the first Japanese woman to obtain Omani citizenship, changing her name and establishing a private ...