Lies, damned lies, and statistics


According to a recent governmental survey, one-third of all Japanese woman report being victims of spousal abuse (including physical and emotional) and of those, ten percent say that they fear for their lives. 

Sorry, but I call bullshit.  I live and work here, I’m friends with and/or confidantes of dozens of Japanese women from all walks of life, and a few men too.  Although I’m aware that life in Japan is no bastion of sexual equality, especially not for women, there is just no way that one-in-three Japanese men are wife-beaters.  How can they be?  Those guys work so hard that they almost never see their wives, anyway.

I’m not saying that spousal abuse never happens in Japan – I know for a fact that it does (as it does everywhere else in the world, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).  I’m just saying that it doesn’t happen as often as people think. 

I would love to know the criteria for “emotional abuse.”  What does that mean, exactly?  I welcome any comments about this.


5 comments on “Lies, damned lies, and statistics

  1. Karen says:

    Well, I worked with victims of domestic abuse, and I don’t know either what constitutes emotional abuse. As for physical abuse, pushing, restraining, destruction of property (throwing a plate, for example), are sometimes called physical abuse. So, on that basis, the number may actually be that high.

  2. Karen says:

    By restraining, I mean if someone grabs your arm to stop you from going somewhere. Really.

  3. Miko says:

    I found a Japanese version of the actual survey. In it, the “emotional abuse” factor is described as threats, harassment, stalking, undermining, etc. One of the questions asks why the victim didn’t report the abuse, or confide in anybody else. The main reason? “I didn’t think it was worth talking about.” Traditionally in Japan, a certain amount of physical abuse (for example, the odd slap or kick) was regarded as normal in the course of a marriage much in the same way that Westerners once spanked their children and didn’t think anything of it. So perhaps the older respondents really didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. Attitudes amongst younger couples are vastly different nowadays.

    Depressingly, the reason most given for the question “Why didn’t you leave the unsatisfactory marriage?” was “Financial reasons.” Somehow, I doubt things are any different in the West.

  4. Karen says:

    I can attest to that fact. We heard that answer all the time, particularly if the couple had children. Most of the women had very low self-esteem and no job skills.

  5. Miko says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how ill-prepared (or unwilling?) most women are to fend for themselves out there in the world. And even working women seem unaware of the very high price they’ll eventually pay when they drop out of the workforce to raise families. Women, don’t do this to yourselves!

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