The Shifting Roles of Women in Intergenerational Mutual Caregiving in Japan: The Importance of Peace, Population Growth, and Economic Expansion

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

This article looks at historical changes in the cultural superstructure defining the proper organization of elder care. Intergenerational mutual care in Japan developed in a context of various factors, including cultural ideals, centralization of the civil state, and the family unit, called the ie. In the Tokugawa period, care was often emphasized as men’s morality in public, for the Tokugawa shogunate emphasized the Confucian ideology of filial piety. As Japan moved from the Tokugawa to the Meiji period, it became more feasible for the government to create legal pressures on women to care for children and the dependent elderly in the privatized ie. Although the ethics of care moved from the public to the private sphere, socioeconomic transformation enabled women to gain equal education and enabled the elderly to live longer. Generational differences now bring conflicts and tensions in Japanese society in determining where the morality of care should belong.

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