NGO tries to make life easier for foreign wives in Japan

6 years ago by in Japan

Foreign wives may often have difficult times in Japan due to the problem of language and cultural differences. However, some Japanese organizations are trying to help foreign women solve this issue.

One of the organizations, the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese, was started in 1969 and now has almost 500 members in Japan. The oldest member is a 92-year-old Dutch lady, according to the international press.

The annual membership fee is about Y7,000 ($75) and the association publishes newsletters twice a month including tips about how foreign women can integrate better in the Japanese culture and stories coming from its members.

Another organization was started by Christina Tashiro, who comes from Argentina, in Kumamoto Prefecture. Her group has no membership fee and includes Japanese men and singles who are interested in international exchange.

“I have never given much thought to people’s nationality because I always want to say ‘I am a global citizen who loves Kumamoto,'” Tashiro said.

Other groups were made to help foreign wives solve their possible problems with adjusting to their local communities. One such group is the Fujimino International Cultural Exchange Center in Saitama Prefecture, run by Nanae Ishii, 65.

“We have had many consultations from women who have suffered from depression because they were raising their children in an environment where they cannot use their native tongue,” Ishii said.

The primary factor behind feelings of alienation is not being able to converse easily in Japanese. Ishi adds there has also been an increase in couples who have married without actually knowing each other well.

“Some women desperate to escape their poverty have married after only one conversation using Skype,” she said.

Ishii said there were limits to what private organizations can do. The central and local governments should more aggressively implement programs to provide language support and counseling services rather than depend only on nonprofit organizations, she added.