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Getting Divorced in Japan

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Despite our best intentions, sometimes marriages don’t work out and couples wind up getting divorced.

Read the following PDF file on the rate of divorce in Japan as compared with other countries:

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Global Divorce Rate Comparison for Japan

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What accounts for the rising divorce rate in Japan?

Why do you think the Japanese divorce rate is still half that of the United States, where one in two marriages end in divorce?

Is marriage itself on the decline? Is it an outdated institution?

How do you think the government can encourage couples to get married and stay together?

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In the Best Interests of the Children

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Children, unfortunately, are often casualties following a divorce. They are torn between their love for both of their parents who are now going to live lives separate from one another. 

Read the following PDF files that compare divorce and child custody issues between Japan and the United States:

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Parents’ rights a demographic issue | The Japan Times Online

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United States Law Regarding Custody of Children Following Divorce

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What do you think accounts for the differences in the way the two countries treat divorce and child custody/visitation issues?

How do you think Japan compares with the United States as to how it handles these issues?

Does the Japanese legal system further discourage couples, especially men, from getting married due to the consequences that follow a divorce (i.e., difficulty maintaining contact with children)?

How much of these differences would you attribute to Japanese cultural norms?

How essential do you think a it is for a child to maintain contact with both parents following a divorce?

What steps do you think could/should be taken to protect the interests of innocent children following a divorce?

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Continued from last week

(See Week 19 for details)

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Western Notions of Romantic Love

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Read the following articles about Western ideas about romantic love:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_(love)

http://science.jrank.org/pages/10029/Love-Western-Notions-Romantic-Love.html

Compare and contrast these ideas with that of Japan. In what ways are these notions similar to Japan’s ideas? In what ways are they different from Japan’s? Is Japan moving closer to the Western idea of romantic love or farther away? How would you describe your own personal ideas about love? What type of person would you like to be with, and why? What is you personal dream with regard to finding love in your life?

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Love in Modern-Day Japan

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Read the following articles about problems in Japanese society with respect to love and relationships:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/27/japan-men-sexless-love

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ek20120618a1.html

http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/life/love-japan-20-reasons-japanese-women-are-mystified-japanese-men-144088

http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/life/love-japan-part-2-10-ways-japanese-women-mystify-men-387988

Do you think these observations are accurate? If not, which ideas do you agree with and which do you disagree with, and why? How would you describe Japanese notions of romantic love? What do Japanese men and women look for in a romantic partner?

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lgbt

The various civil rights movements over the past 30 to 40 years, including movements to end racial discrimination and discrimination against women, have given birth to a new movement — the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.  Recently, several countries around the world and several states in the United States have taken measures to ensure fair treat ment under the law for LGBT people, including the rights to marry, adopt children, and serve in the armed forces.

Read the following article by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) for some background on the legal basis for LGBT rights and prepare answer to the Questions for Discussion that follow for class.

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LGBT Rights

Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Project

The LGBT Project works for an America free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means an America where LGBT people can live openly, where our identities, relationships and families are respected, and where there is fair treatment on the job, in schools, housing, public places, health care, and government programs.

The mission of the ACLU LGBT Project is the creation of a society in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people enjoy the constitutional rights of equality, privacy and personal autonomy, and freedom of expression and association.

The ACLU has a long history defending the LGBT community. We brought our first LGBT rights case in 1936 and founded the LGBT Project in 1986. The ACLU’s LGBT rights strategy is based on the belief that fighting for the society we want means not just persuading judges and government officials, but ultimately changing the way society thinks about LGBT people. To end discrimination, the ACLU seeks both to change the law and to convince Americans that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination is wrong. The ACLU carries out this work in five priority areas: Basic Rights and Liberties, Parenting, Relationships and Marriage, Youth and Schools, and Transgender Discrimination.

Read the rest of the article here:

https://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights

PDF File here:

LGBT Rights | American Civil Liberties Union

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Questions for Discussion:

1) To what degree should LGBT people be afforded the same rights as non-LGBT people? Explain.

2) Should lesbians, gays bisexuals, and transgender people be allowed to:

i) marry;

ii) adopt children:

iii) teach school children: and

iv) serve in the military.

Why or why not?

3) What sorts of difficulties do LGBT people face in society?

4) Why do you feel discrimination still persists with respect to LGBT people, and why?

5) How would you compare the right so LGBT people in America and Japan? What do you think accounts for these differences?

6) What positive suggestions can you make to promote the rights of LGBT people? 

7) Do you believe total equality for LGBT people can be accomplished in our lifetimes?

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Father Holding Baby on Shoulder

Mr. Mom?

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Recent changes in society has been the rise of the so-called “stay-at-home-father.” Under this arrangement, the traditional roles of men and women have been reversed, where the woman goes to work and earns a living for the family and the man stays at home to take care of the house and the children.

While this novel approach to domestic life seems an interesting alternative to the role of man as breadwinner and woman as caregiver, it is not without its problems. While some men willingly accept this role, others resist such a radical change of the traditional family strutcure and parental obligations.

Read the following articles for next week and be prepared to discuss the following questions.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/the-overhyped-rise-of-stay-at-home-dads/279279/

PDF File here:

The Overhyped Rise of Stay-at-Home Dads – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic

and

http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/21/viewpoint-stay-at-home-dads-will-never-become-the-norm/

PDF File here:

Viewpoint_ Stay-at-Home Dads Will Never Become the Norm | TIME.com

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Discussion Questions

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of a stay-at-home-father arrangement?

How do you account for this new trend among households around the world? What are the causes of such a change in the traditional roles of men and women?

How would such a change in parenting obligations affect society?

How likely do you think this trend will continue to gain ground in the United States? in Japan?

What differences between American and Japanese societies would influence this unusual parenting arrangement?

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A Woman’s Place is in the Home?

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Japan is regarded as a place where notions about the traditional roles of women — as mother, homemaker, and dutiful wife — still persist in the 21st Century, although there are signs that such attitudes are changing. Read the following articles for next week which talk about this issue and be prepared to discuss the questions that follow.

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Japanese Women Shy From Dual Mommy Role

By Blaine Harden

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, August 28, 2008

TOKYO — “I have never met a Japanese man who did not want me to be his mommy.”

That is the reason, Takako Katayama says, that she has not married. At 37, she has carved out a comfortable life here in Tokyo, with her own apartment, a good job at a cable television network, and a network of family and friends.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/27/AR2008082703194.html

PDF File here:

Japanese Women Shy From Dual Mommy Role (Page 1)

Japanese Women Shy From Dual Mommy Role (Page 2)

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Career Women in Japan Find a Blocked Path

By MARTIN FACKLER

Published: August 6, 2007

TOKYO, Aug. 5 — Yukako Kurose joined the work force in 1986, a year after Japan passed its first equal opportunity law. Like other career-minded young women, she hoped the law would open doors. But her promising career at a department-store corporate office ended 15 years ago when she had a baby.

She was passed over for promotions after she started leaving work before 6:30 each evening to pick up her daughter from day care. Then, she was pushed into a dead-end clerical job. Finally, she quit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/06/world/asia/06equal.html

PDF File here:

Career Women in Japan Find a Blocked Path – New York Times

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EDITORIAL

Boost women’s role in society

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Japan may be the third-largest economy in the world, but its percentage of female legislators ranks only 121st among 186 countries, according to a white paper on gender equality approved by the Cabinet recently.

Female legislators comprised 11.3 percent of all legislators in Japan’s Lower House after the 2009 elections. That compares to 45 percent in Sweden and 32.8 percent in Germany. The United States had 16.8 percent female legislators while China had 21.3 percent. Even South Korea bests Japan at 14.7 percent.

Read the rest of the article here:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ed20110703a2.html

PDF File here:

Boost women’s role in society | The Japan Times

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

How would you describe the traditional role of women in Japan? 

What do you think accounts for the old-fashioned ideas about women in Japanese society?

Do you believe these ideas are changing, and if so, how?

Why does Japan lag behind other developed nations with respect to women’s representation in business, government, etc.?

How have the changing roles of women here affected male-female relationships, family life, the workplace, and government policies?

What concrete suggestions can you provide to improve the position of women in Japanese society?

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Religion in Japan

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Religion in Japan is a difficult matter to define. It is commonly viewed as a mixture of the Shinto and Buddhist faiths, and influenced by Confucianism. In fact, many Japanese people say that they don’t follow any particular religion. 

Read the following Wikipedia article about religion in Japan. Be prepared to discuss the nature of religious and/or philosophical thought in Japan and how it compares and contrasts with that of the United States. You are all better qualified than I am to explain this subject so please feel free to educate me. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Japan

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