Your Friend in Japan

The Future of Women in Japan, and What is “Anime”?

Written by HotAnime

Recently I came across a picture of Wal-Mart’s “anime” selection on the Internet, showing a dozen or so Western animated films like Ice Age, Kung-Fu Panda and Garfield being sold as “anime.” This is terribly annoying to true fans, who object to the mis-use of their beloved label…although in truth, the term might be harder to define than some of us realize. We generally agree that “anime” refers to animation from Japan, but what about Re:Zero, which is partially animated in Vietnam? How about the fact that Pet Girl of Sakura-sou was done by South Korean animators, who inserted some local cultural jokes into the show for fun? We know that “anime” is always the opposite of whatever mediocre feculence Hollywood is trying to sell us this week…yet acclaimed shows like Gate and Accel World were funded and distributed by Warner Bros. Of course the nuance of any word is likely to shift when you change countries, for example in Korea some fans draw a distinction between “anime” (from Japan) and “manhwa animation” like Freezing, which is based on a comic by a Korean artist. And how about in Japan? Here it’s common for any animation to be referred to as “anime”…including the works of Disney (ugh). Now my only question is…what kind of anime is Touhou?

Japan is an amazing country that has achieved a high degree of peace and prosperity for its people. One aspect of the Japanese life I’ve always been impressed by is the way that, by and large, women are able to either choose to work as full-time housewives, or else take five years off from their careers to raise children then return to the workplace without undue economic strain if they want, something that would be difficult in the U.S. As Japan faces increasing labor crunches — the unemployment rate is just 3.2%, and some business activities are being curtailed due to there being no one to work — a new idea is being considered by the Japanese government: to curtail the current rule that allows women listed as dependents of their households to avoid paying income taxes if they earn less than 1 million yen (around $10,000) per year. The rule allows women to work a little without paying taxes, but (the thinking goes) creates a psychological barrier that keeps them from wanting to really earn a proper salary and contribute to Japan’s economy. After running J-List for near 20 years, I’d have to say this rule really needs to be repealed, as we’ve had many amazing female employees who were unable to live up to their potential because of that silly annual income limit.

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