My friend called M, who suffered from brain infarction, has been certified as requiring “Long-term Care Level 2,” and now is living with her oldest daughter, utilizing various care services from home. She has three grandchildren, who are university students --- one boy and two girls. They sometimes help M go to day care.

M’s daughter always gives her a pep talk, encouraging her to walk more in order to stay healthy and avoid becoming bedridden. M understands the point very well. But even when she goes for a walk with a helper, she tends to get on the wheelchair or enter a cafe for some tea too soon, saying “This is enough for today.” Her daughter gets mad when she finds it out.

M is very happy when talking about her grandchildren, though --- especially her grandson. “Boys are so sweet,” she says emotionally. “My grandson never tells me directly to do something. But I’m easily persuaded by him, when he says, ‘Grandma, perhaps you might want to go out a bit more?’ A boy like him would be ideal for a careworker or a childminder, not a corporate warrior. On the other hand, my granddaughters are very straightforward just like her mother, saying ‘Grandma, you just need to walk more!’”

I know this is just an example of a specific family. Each family has a different members with different characters. M’s grandson happens to be sweet and her granddaughters happen to be tough.
But I cannnot overlook this remark by a politician. Koichi Hagiuda, the deputy secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said, “Young children definitely prefer moms.” in May this year.

Who has decided young children definitely prefer moms? It is true that more women are involved with childraising than men in Japan. But it is not that every child “definitely prefers mom.” In our society, socially and institutionally, mothers are supposed to raise children in most cases --- that’s all. Some women are not good at raising children and some men are. Some women do not like to be with children and some men do. Some children prefer moms and others prefer dads. And that could also depend on the time and occasion. Nothing is “definitey” ture about raising children.

“Children definitely prefer moms” is a very insensitive remark for men who have become professional childminder because they like children, or for men who are responsible for child-raising for various reasons. Mr. Hagiuda should withdraw this remark and apologize.

What is even worse, Mr. Hagiuda also said, “We speak of cool ideas such as a gender-equal society and men’s childraising, but they are unwelcome ideas for children.” (Asahi Shimbun, May 29)

What awful words! “A gender-equal society” is a policy which was determined by the LDP-dominated government. But this man clearly stated that it is just “a cool idea” and “unwelcome for children.” Perhaps many LDP members might think the same way, I guess.

Unfortunately, gender equality would be a faraway dream under a government like this. We had better keep it in mind that even if Prime Minister Abe or senior members of LDP talk about the realization of a gender-equal society or the unconstitutionality of gender discrimination, those are just “cool ideas” for them, not their sincere opinions.

I feel disconsolate about this dark prospects, but still am comforted by the fact there are kind and affectionate men like M’s grandson. We should never call these men “effeminate.” Let’s press the “Like” button for them. We might be able to change the Japanese society by fostering and increasing these men.

Original Japanese language article
Translated and adapted by A. Tawara