After her son was born, Terue Suzuki moved back to her childhood home on weekdays so she could work while her sister cared for the baby, leaving her husband alone in the house they shared. “It was like a weekend marriage,” Suzuki says of the arrangement 14 years ago. “I had a satisfying job and really wanted to go back to it. In Japan, when a woman chooses work instead of staying at home to look after her husband, she’s called a ‘devil wife.’ ”
To spur the country’s moribund economy, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda aims to boost the proportion of working women aged 25 to 44 to 73 percent by 2020, from 66.5 percent in 2010.Limited day care, peer pressure, and job inflexibility mean Suzuki remains a minority in Japan, where 70 percent of women quit work with the birth of their first child, says Nana Oishi, a professor at Sophia University in Tokyo. In the U.S., about a third of new mothers don’t return to work, according to a 2010 Goldman Sachs (GS) report.
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