National Geographic : 1990 Apr
seat. A moment later her husband strolled onto the train, cool and collected, and slipped into the seat his wife had saved for him. While he read the newspaper, she stood in the aisle, bags and purse still dangling, all the way to Kyoto, a two-and-a -half-hour trip. Like the self-sacrificing wife on the train, Japanese women are expected to do all that they do with patience, selflessness-and, above all, without complaining. Linda Matsui, an American who grew up in Illinois, married a Japanese salaryman (white-collar worker), and has lived in Japan for ten years, told me about her experience of childbirth in a Japanese hospital. "The labor was difficult, and after 12 hours I asked for an anesthetic," Linda said. But her doctor, a man, gave her a scolding instead. "Be quiet and persevere!" he said. In other words, be a woman. UIET PERSEVERANCE seems to describe the life of Shizuko Go, author of Requiem, a moving and realistic novel based on her experiences as a teenager dur ing wartime incendiary raids on Yokohama. She published her book in 1972, nearly 30 years after the war. A biographical note states, "Marriage and raising two sons post poned her writing debut." Popular Japanese literature abounds with stories about lengthy, solitary vigils by Japa nese women performing their duty of caring for the young, the family, the elderly. Akiko, Making up 40 percent of the labor force, women work at every corporate level. The unskilled do tedious tasks like pro cessing fish at an Obama factory (right). Planning to get ahead, a woman holds her own during management training near Fujinomiya (above). Junko Yoda, a vice presi dent, has a word with one of her salesmen in the To kyo office of an American owned investment bank. Women executives are few but have doubled in number in a decade.