Japanese Salarymen Try New Tactic to Avoid Divorce: Being Nice to Their Wives

Japanese salarymen, the overworked and hard-drinking corporate warriors, are facing a new danger as they near retirement: divorce.

A change in Japanese law this year allows a wife who is filing for divorce to claim as much as half her husband's company pension. When the new law went into effect in April, divorce filings across Japan spiked 6.1 percent. Many more split-ups are in the pipeline, marriage counselors predict. They say wives -- hearts gone cold after decades of marital neglect -- are using calculators to ponder pension tables, the new law and the big D.

Skittishly aware of the trouble they're in, 18 salarymen, many of them nearing retirement, gathered at a restaurant here recently for beer, boiled pork and marital triage.

The evening began with a defiantly defeatist toast. Husbands reminded themselves of what their organization -- the improbably named National Chauvinistic Husbands Association -- preaches as a sound strategy for arguing with one's wife.

"I can't win. I won't win. I don't want to win," they bellowed in unison, before tippling from tall schooners of draft beer.

So, what does an old salaryman got to do to save the marriage? Some of them are trying to be nice to their old ladies:

When his wife told him eight years ago that she was "99 percent" certain she was going to dump him, Amano said, the only things he then knew how to do in the kitchen were to fry eggs and pour boiled water over noodles.

Since then, in addition to learning how to listen and talk to a wife he had ignored for two decades, Amano said, he has learned how to take out the trash, clean the house and cook.

Link (Really, the organization is named the National Chauvinistic Husbands Association)

(Photo: hiromy [Flickr])

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That sounds reasonable. Many women in Japan are treated very poorly and stay with their husbands out of necessity. Given a way out that wouldn't put them on the street, I don't blame them for taking it.
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