Why is it that many Japanese women are so outraged at health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa’s tactless remarks over Japan’s declining birthrate and the need for more babies?

Since the 1950s hasn’t it been the dream of nearly every middle-class mother in Japan that her son — not daughter — pass the entrance exam to enter one of the elite universities and then one of Japan’s major corporations? Such obsessed mothers gave little consideration to their child’s need for a normal childhood. The sole concern of such women was simply their own narrow ambitions for the child. They didn’t consider it abnormal to turn their children into “cram-school drones.”

Yanagisawa has triggered a terrible backlash for suggesting that Japanese women are “baby-making machines.” His critics should stop and consider that since the beginning of the postwar economic boom, many mothers in Japan have treated their offspring like future “corporate labor machines”! All but forgetting that a child should have a certain measure of freedom: Freedom to play, freedom to be creative or mischievous.

From his lack of sensitivity, it appears likely that Yanagisawa didn’t have much of a childhood.

robert mckinney

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