Gender roles in the traditional Japanese society are one of the most commonly debated concerns for sustaining growth and development of the country. After a lot of criticism and debate, the government has taken several steps and implemented plans to alleviate the gender gaps in the Japanese society. In order to comprehend why a considerable gender gap exists, it is imperative to review the roles of women in the traditional society. The principal role of a woman in the conventional Japanese household, especially after the second World Was has been of a house wife along with a tending individual and mother who looks after the needs and desires of her spouse and is conscientious in the upbringing of her children along with their learning.
A historical investigation of the Japanese culture discloses that gender roles have varied over time and in different classes of the Japanese society. The nation has seen empresses in the eighth century while in the twelfth century women could inherit and administer properties on their own without the support of their male counterparts. Evidence also indicates that women held high administrative positions in the society in the 16th century and were permitted to have sexual affairs with lovers and also undertake abortions. It was not until the Edo and Meiji periods that the status of women started to deteriorate and women were deprived of basic legal rights and privileges under the 1898 Meiji Civil Code. After the Second World War, the role of women in society was readdressed by the occupying forces by including clauses to sustain gender egalitarianism in the constitution of 1947 and 1948 Civil Code.
Even though modifications and additions were done to the legal system earlier on but traditional roles existed as they were sturdily entrenched in the social and cultural standards of the Japanese society. Even today in the age of modernization and globalization, the Japanese society is highly patriarchal where males are the figureheads while the role of women is limited largely to tending to the households, giving birth to and looking after children and catering to the needs of the husband. Albeit there are gender gaps in the traditional Japanese society but the trends are changing as the Japanese society opens up to modernization and globalization and women are becoming more independent in the society. It is concluded, that the role of women in traditional Japanese society has been that of a housewife catering to the needs of the household and husband but with the passage of time the society is experiencing change and women are becoming more independent.