'Cook, smile for husbands': Japan mayor apologises to pregnant women over controversial pamphlets

He said that the pamphlets “do not match the sentiments" of those involved in child-rearing


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Image used for illustrative purposes only (Photo: AFP)
Image used for illustrative purposes only (Photo: AFP)

Published: Fri 28 Jul 2023, 4:14 PM

The mayor of a Japanese city has been forced to issue an apology over pamphlets distributed to pregnant women advising them on how to please their husbands after becoming mothers.

The flyers suggested that women prepare lunch, give massages and have a smile on their face to keep their husbands happy, CNN reported.

The controversial pamphlets were distributed by the administration in Onomichi city in Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture based on a public survey conducted in 2017, according to the local government’s website.

In his apology on July 25, Mayor Yukihiro Hiratani said that the pamphlets “do not match the sentiments of pregnant women, women in labour, and others involved in child-rearing. The content that made many people feel uncomfortable.”

He added that the local government had stopped the distribution because they “contain expressions that promote attitudes and practices that stereotype gender roles.”

The pamphlets given to pregnant women said that “there are differences in the way men and women feel and think. One of the reasons for this is the structural difference in the brains of men and women. It is known that men act based on theories, while women act based on emotions”, the CNN report said.

It added, “The important thing is to understand each others’ differences and divide roles well.”

The pamphlets stated that husbands and new fathers like to be thanked when they do household chores like washing dishes, holding the baby, or changing the baby's diapers.

As per these brochures, husbands may get irritated if their wives are busy looking after the baby and ignoring chores. They also advised women to not “get frustrated for no reason”.

Around 600 such pamphlets, titled, “From an experienced dad to you”, were sent to women who were in the seventh month of their pregnancy. The distribution started in 2018. They included the top three responses given by experienced fathers in the 2017 survey. The questions ranged from “words my wife said that made me happy” to “things I wish my wife would do for me,” reported the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi.

The pamphlets sparked public outrage on social media. The Onomichi local government received phone calls and email complaints against the problematic material, the report added.


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