Possible serial killers Kanae Kijima and Miyuki Ueta join Kaori Mihashi, accused of carving up her husband’s body with a knife in Tokyo’s Shibuya district three years ago, as having been born in 1974 — the zodiac “Year of the Tiger” that Weekly Playboy (Nov. 30) believes is the source of a number of aggressive females making themselves known today.
Expectations play a role, says Atsushi Miura, a marketing researcher and author of the best-seller “Karyu Shakai” (Lower Classes). He explains: “International Women’s Year was dedicated in 1975. This led to a decade-long worldwide campaign advocating women’s social status. In Japan, too, there was the birth of publications such as More, With and Cosmopolitan. They provided voices for the advancement of women in society. Those around the age of 35 were in their childhood (up to elementary school) and were raised under the social ideal that it is natural for women to become independent.”
The tabloid, however, says that a few short straws (binbo kuji) were drawn by today’s “around 35” set. The popularity of college-aged girls peaked right before they were eligible, a time when high school girls entered the spotlight. They became a junior version of the baby boomers, but their job prospects were made challenging due to the post-bubble recession.
For ladies from the suburbs, like Kijima and Ueta, things were even more difficult. “With the collapse of the bubble economy,” the author says, “their plans were partially shattered. At the same time, the development of suburban areas accelerated, making access to material goods very easy. We also entered the era of online shopping.
“These regions, however, have since experienced a severe economic downturn,” he goes on. “They just could not buy the brand items available. Since consumerism tends to be more provocative towards women than men, perhaps it is natural that these individuals developed twisted ethics.”
Under the prolonged recession, men have also experienced a decline in their income, the weekly says, forcing them to marry later in life. In a societal setting that has made words like konkatsu (marriage hunting) and makeinu (societal loser) common terms, women “around 35” are being held liable for the decline in the national birthrate.
Even if they had found a significant other, Weekly Playboy concludes, their lifestyle would be far from what they had dreamed when they were teens — which is making them struggle with the gap between fantasy and reality.
Source: “Baburu ni wa noriokure, nazeka makeinu to sagesumare…Araundo 35 sedai ‘kanojotachi ga shi o yobu wake,'” Weekly Playboy (Nov. 30, page 39)