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Japanese city apologises over advice to pregnant women

A Japanese mayor apologizes for a flyer given to pregnant women, which shared advice from fathers on what irritated them about their wives after becoming mothers, sparking outrage and complaints on social media. The document promoted gender stereotypes and has been retracted.

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TOKYO, JAPAN — A Japanese mayor has apologised after a public outcry over a flyer issued to pregnant women advising them on what most irritated husbands after their wives became mothers, an official said Thursday.

The flyer included a section titled “Advice from fathers to you”, which included answers to a survey of new fathers conducted five years ago in the city of Onomichi in western Hiroshima prefecture.

Officials have been sharing the responses with expectant women ever since, apparently thinking it would be helpful to know what new fathers liked and disliked about their wives’ behaviour after giving birth.

Some men said they were annoyed when their wives became “irritated for unknown reasons” or could “not do housekeeping work” because they were too busy taking care of the baby.

Japanese women have long struggled against deeply entrenched gender stereotypes, and there was a furious reaction when the document was shared on social media this week.

That prompted Onomichi Mayor Yuko Hiratani to publish an apology on Tuesday and retracted the flyer, city official Akira Takahashi told AFP on Thursday.

“The document is against the feelings of people who are raising children including pregnant women and mothers with newborn babies, offending many people,” the mayor said in a statement.

“The document included expressions that promote fixed roles based on gender, so we stopped delivering it. We deeply apologise.”

Complaints from the public have continued, however, partly due to local media reports on the issue.

“Why wasn’t it ‘from senior fathers to new fathers’? Why don’t they teach ‘what you should never do to your wife before and after giving birth’?” one person messaged on Twitter, which is being rebranded as X.

By Wednesday evening, the city had “received 156 emails and 51 phone calls, most of which expressed criticism about the document”, Takahashi said.

“We are currently reviewing all relevant documents to make necessary changes so as to address various ideas and thoughts about family issues.”

— AFP

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