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10 Jan

Women seeking full-time work frequently find themselves in irregular jobs too, which also has implications for raising a family, since the hours are unpredictable and the pay is low.But it is more of an obstacle for marriage if a man doesn’t have a good job—roughly 70 percent of women quit working after they have their first child, and depend on their husband’s salary for some time.

(Shiho Fukada, a photographer, has documented the lives of these “refugees.”) Others with irregular jobs live with their parents or go on welfare. For the first time since the government started keeping track more than a century ago, there were fewer than 1 million births last year, as the country’s population fell by more than 300,000 people.The blame has long been put on Japan’s young people, who are accused of not having enough sex, and on women, who, the narrative goes, put their careers before thoughts of getting married and having a family.Dozens of women clustered in a small studio to take a cooking class featuring food from Miyazaki Prefecture, in southern Japan.The event was part of an initiative that Zwei was putting on to make them interested in life—and men—outside of Tokyo.The result is that even Japan’s “good” jobs can be brutal.People who hold them may earn enough money to support families, but they often don’t have much time to date, or to do anything but work, sleep, and eat. At POSSE, I met a young man named Jou Matsubara, who graduated from Rikkyo Daigaku, a prestigious private college in Japan.Zwei’s business model is based on matching women in Japan’s big cities with men in other areas of the country, where men are more likely to have good jobs and be considered viable partners.“Men in this city are not very masculine and they don't want to get married,” Kouta Takada, a Zwei staff member, told me.Since the postwar years, Japan had a tradition of “regular employment,” as labor experts commonly call it, in which men started their careers at jobs that gave them good benefits, dependable raises, and the understanding that if they worked hard, they could keep their jobs until retirement.Now, according to Jeff Kingston, a professor at Temple University’s Japan campus and the author of several books about Japan, around 40 percent of the Japanese workforce is “irregular,” meaning they don’t work for companies where they have stable jobs for their whole careers, and instead piece together temporary and part-time jobs with low salaries and no benefits.