A Japanese woman looks at her country from the perspective of long-term residence in the United States and asks how life has changed for women in Japan in the last fifty years.
As Japan shifted from an agricultural country before 1950 to an industrialized nation in less time than any other developed country, women felt the pressure of the shift. Husbands worked longer hours, leaving all the household chores and child rearing to their wives while fulfilling their responsibilites as corporate soldiers. The economy was fueled by a diligent, well-educated, low-paid workforce, but gender role division became even more rigid. Household incomes rose and improvement in areas such as diets, transportation, and leisure were made; modern appliances also made it possible for mothers to have part-time jobs. But pollution also rose, as did prices, and crowded living conditions began to impinge on family life. Tanaka, who has spent many years looking back at her country from an American perspective, examines marriage, motherhood, employment, independence, women's movements, and old age for women in Japan over the last 50 years.