J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


Izanami, Self-Esteem and Japanese Birth Rate, Fail

Izanami, Self-Esteem and Japanese Birth Rate, Fail
In Japanese mythology the primal female, Izanami (top left), "the female inviter", who together with the primal male, Izanagi, created the first entities - the islands of Japan, mountains and finally fire, at which point she died and went to the underworld.

Such was her partners mourning, he spoke to himself liberally, that he decided to go to the underworld to get her out. Despite her warning he looked at Izanami, and saw that she was dead! This should not have been a surprise, but he was horrified and fled. Izanami gave chase and the two parted at the gates of hell with the following promise.

Inazami: "If you trap me in the underworld with that rock I will kill 1000 children a day"
Inazagi: "I will make 1500 parturition huts (where japanese women go in myth and relatity to give birth)."

Like the myth of the Fall, in Genesis, this creation myth has a taboo (on birth hence the "parturition huts" rather than fig leaves hiding sex) and explains the origin of death, the seperation of two worlds, and the beginning of going forth and multiplying.

The Japanese population has increased ever since, until, five years ago, when in 2010 it started to fall. It occured to me that Izanami must be out and about. But I did not know what that might mean.

More recently I have tended to believe that these primal females that are shut in caves, hell or our breasts, are the interluctors that some Western psychologists and philosophers claim underpins the narrative self. I met her a long time ago, in a brief moment of psychosis and presumed it was only me. Still more recently I have seen that Freud and Derrida are hinting at the same structure. It is not only me. Izanami is listening to everyone who talks 'to themselves'.

Who was she? Izanami helps her partner drip brine from his "pond lance" to create the first "self-stiffening" island. She accepts (but must not give) invitations to sex. When she invites the results are disasterous, so she just says yes, "Ah! what a fair and lovely man!". Izanami affirms. Until that her partner realied that she was dead, Izanami made him feel really good about himself. She completed him. Izanami is the great male-ego-massager.

This is what the narrative self does for you. Our self-narratives allow us to spin self-evaluations in a positive direction, and in the West this tendency has spun out of control (Twenge & Campbell, 2009; Ehrenreich, 2009). While there are still lots of people with low self esteem the USA, and they are maintaining the birth rate, it has been pointed out that self-esttem correlates with low teen pregnancy, (Mecca, Smelser, & Vasconcellos, 1989), high use of contraceptives (Ager, Shea, & Agronow, 1982; Cvetkovich & Grote 1980: Herold, Goodwin, & Lero 1979; Hornick, Doran, & Crawford 1979: see Mecca, Smelser, & Vasconcellos, 1989) and the singles culture that has exploded since the 1960's and 70s in the USA (Twenge & Campbell, 2009) . .

A Japanese television presenter (Hasegawa, 2014) has made a similar claim regarding the declinging birth rate in Japan. "The decline in the Japanese birth rate does not stop because young people love themselves more than raising children." (日本の少子化が止まらないのは、若者が子育てよりも自分のことが大好きだから).

The opinion of one commentator is all very well but what about hard research?

Nagahisa, Kashiwa, (2003) gave adult married women a questionnaire about how they felt about their lives containing containing 21 questions (Table 3, p 42 bottom three factors shown), upon which they performed an exploratory factor analysis to see which items grouped with which others. They found that there were four main factors in the womens lives which they named (reordered to match Table 4)
1) Satisfaction with husband
2) Satisfaction as parent.
3) Satisfaction with self
4) Impatience and disillusment with own individuality.
Unfortunately for my theory, self esteem correlates positively, and self-dillusionment negatively with satisfaction with parenthood. My hypothesis was not upheld. I thought that hypothesis may have been supported when I first started writing this post since the factors are ordered diferently in Table 3 and 4 in the original paper.

Still the paper tested satisfication with parent child relationship and not the intention to have more or less children. I shall have to do my own research. The prediction is that self-esteem will be related to sexual self-worth (see Anderson, 1990) rather than as valuations of and as a parent. It is probably more appropriate to investigate Japanese male self esteem and desire for children.

The Japanese have been pushing self-esteem on their children since the 1990s. They now have a large sector of their population that not only see themselves positively (in the usual Japanese autoscopic manner) but narrate themselves positively as well. As Hasegawa (2014) says, these hybrids are unliklely to want involve themselves in childrearing.

Ehrenreich, B. (2009). Bright-sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America. Macmillan.
Hisanaga, Kashiwagi (1999) 永久ひさ子, & 柏木惠子. 成人期女性における資源配分と生活感.教育心理学研究 Vol. 47 (1999) No. 2 p. 170-179
Hasegawa, Y. 長谷川富.(2014).日本の少子化が止まらないのは、若者が子育てよりも自分のことが大好きだから. Blog post.
Mecca, A. M., Smelser, N. J., & Vasconcellos, J. (Eds.). (1989). The social importance of self-esteem. Univ of California Press.
Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell (2009) The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement,  Free Press.

The "pond spear" of Izanagi and Izanami is usually translated as jewelled spear from a reading of the 沼 character used in the Kojiki to mean jewel. But the Kojiki rarely uses characters phonetically alone unless it says so ("these three characters should be read phonetically") so the lance was jeweled and one from a bog or pond. Weapon's entering a reflective pond, is repeated in the next section of the Kojiki when Susano'o meets Izanagi's replacement above the "well in the middle of heaven" and allows his sister to chew up his sword and spit it into this new pond.
Much of Japanese mythic creation takes place over water often dripping upon them. I think that this is an attempt to illustrate the "contradictory" (Nishida) looping of the klien bottle of the visual self. For that which sees, consciousness, to see itself, the face in the mirror must at the same time cover it, become it. So Japanese heroes and heroines, and the first person of Japanese songs, are often crying, spitting, and dripping impure symblos above mirrored surfaces.

Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell (2010) The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement
At the same time that the interest in self-esttem and self-expression ramped up, the culture begam to move away from community-oriented thinking. As Robert Putnam showed in his bestseller, Bowling Alone, membership in groups such as Kiwanis, the PTA, and even bowling leagues began to decline in the '70s. Personal relationships showed similar trends. The divorce rate skyrocketed, young people began tomarry later, and the birth rate plummeted. Singles culture, practically nonexistent in the 1950's and 1960's was all the rage, with singles only aparment complexes springing up and disco rooms full of gold-chain wearing bachelors and young bachelorettes trying not to spraing their ankles dancing to "Stayin Aliv" in four inch platform heels. A few other atuhors have also pegged the roots of the narcissim epidemic to the 70's..."the "Me" Decade"

Four of the five studies investigating the association between selfesteem and contraceptive use report similar findings: low self-esteem is associated with less frequent or less sustained use of contraceptives. ...No study demonstrates a link between low self-esteem and effective use of contraceptives.

Ager, Shea, and Agronow 1982
Cvetkovich and Grote 1980
Herold, Goodwin, and Lero 1979
MacKinnon Self-Esteem Scale
Hornick, Doran, and Crawford 1979
Rogel and Zuehlke 1982

high self-esteem has been associated with effective contraception primarily for white adolescents, thereby limiting the applicability of these findings to other groups. Nevertheless, there is sufficient correlational evidence to further consider a possible causal link between self-esteem and contraceptive use.

Males become sexual predators whose self-esteem rests on mastering women, maneuvering them to relinquish sexual favors without commitment or support from the man.35 A male's status will actually be enhanced to the extent his mastery of women allows him to parasitically draw economic and material support from them.
Elijah Anderson, Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1990), pp. 112-119.

Self-esteem, values called tools to help curb teen pregnancy.

Dr. Adamu: Giving them information on how to control their reproduction and get health care - and that there is a choice - empowers them and gives them the self-esteem to choose the number and the spacing of their children.

Dr Potts: If you respect women and give them a choice, they will tend to have fewer children.

日本の少子化が止まらないのは、若者が子育てよりも自分のことが大好きだからフリーアナウンサ 長谷川豊

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.