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International News Archive
January 01 - January 09, 2000


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This page contains news for the period Saturday, January 01, 2000 through Sunday, January 09, 2000.





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Saturday, January 08, 2000

More young adults in Japan are delaying marriage for the easy life with parents

An article published today in the Daily Yomiuri reports that with the problem of the falling birth-rate in Japan coming under closer scrutiny, part of the blame is being placed on the increasing numbers of young people choosing to stay single.

According to the story, experts say the bulk of such freewheeling adults are women who continue to live with their parents well beyond young adulthood. One of those experts is Masahiro Yamada, assistant professor at Tokyo Gakugei University, who has coined the term "parasite singles" to refer to this new class of young adults.

Yamada says that 3.15 million single women in their early 20s were living with their parents in 1995. He estimates that the number for those in their late 20s stood at 1.5 million, and 500,000 for those in their early 30s.

Health and Welfare Ministry statistics on people who live with their parents (1997) showed that 30 percent in the 25-35 age bracket were receiving some form of financial assistance from the parents. Eighty percent of the 25-29 group rely on their parents when it comes to such day-to-day care as meals and laundry. The figure was 70 percent for those aged 30-34.

The story says that Yamada calls such young people parasites because they are trying to live beyond their means, simply by turning to their parents for their basic needs.

Those aged 26-29, children of the postwar baby boomers, are so keen on maintaining such lifestyles that a marriage is out the window if it means less financial comfort. Yamada says the fact that many of the urban young can go to college and start work without relocating also contributes to the parasitism.

"Their parents are well off. And they have tasted the sweet consumerism brought about by the economic bubble," he said.

The story notes that the "parasite" lifestyle may be transient. There is no guarantee that parents will stay healthy and financially vibrant for the remainder of their lives. A 29-year-old woman said she has to fight the fear of eventually having to take care of aging parents alone.

Tamako Sarada, who wrote "Parasite Singles," says mothers are partly to blame.

Today's women want it all--a perfect partner and a good career. "Mothers encourage their daughters to hold onto such ideals, thinking that it is possible now that the times have changed," she says.

But, according to the story, Sarada also sympathizes with the parasite generation, saying that people can't be blamed for wanting a better life.

What is largely a matter of personal preference becomes crucial in light of the declining birth-rate. Yamada believes that young people will have more chance of finding someone to spend their lives with if they actually go out and mingle. "This could lead to a greater number of marriages and subsequently babies," he said.

According to Makoto Ato, deputy director of the National Social Welfare and Demography Research Center, baby boomers actually broke away from the extended-family tradition by moving to inner cities and forming nuclear families. "In Japan, it has always been deemed ideal for families to live together, while in the West, children become independent as soon as they reach adulthood," he said.

The story says that in the light of the declining birth-rate, however, the parasite phenomenon cannot be overlooked. "It is impossible to support an indulgent lifestyle forever," he said. "We need to tell young people that, regardless of sex, they need to be self-reliant."

Of course, it is not just the comfort factor that makes young people reluctant to leave home.

One study shows that female workers in the 25-29 age bracket earn an average 209,400 yen per month--84.5 percent of their male counterparts' salaries. The gap grows as workers get older. Men are more likely to receive steady pay raises, leaving behind most women, who are off the career track.

Kazuyo Kihara, a real estate broker who caters only to women, says a studio apartment within 40 minutes of central Tokyo costs at least 80,000 yen per month. With utilities and overhead the cost reaches 100,000 yen.

The story says that baby-boomer parents have little reason to kick their children out into the street. According to a 1998 Management and Coordination Agency report, household savings for a typical worker in his 50s stood at more than 17 million yen.

Court in Kenya Grants Tribal Woman Divorce from Her "Wife"

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that a court in western Kenya has granted an 80-year-old tribal woman a divorce from her wife on grounds of cruelty.

Nyoero Ongori had accused Mary Orang'o of assaulting her and molesting her daughters since the two were married in the district of Kisii eight years ago, according to a news article published in the Kenya Times.

The AP article says that while not recognized under Kenyan law, the Kisii tribe acknowledges marriages between women in instances when a widow is too old to reproduce and has never borne a son.

Among the Kisiis and several other Kenyan tribes, only sons can carry on the family name and inherit property.

The magistrate, Margaret Rung'ari, ordered Orang'o to vacate the women's home in the village of Bomwanda immediately.


Thursday, January 06, 2000

Young Libs back property rights for same sex couples in Australia

A story published today by the Australian Broadcasting Company reports that Australia's Young Liberals have supported giving gay and lesbian unmarried couples the same rights as heterosexual unmarried relationships.

The Young Liberal's national conference has backed a motion by the party's Tasmanian branch, calling for equal property and financial rights for all long-term couples.

According to the story, Tasmanian Young Liberals president John Kennett says it is a big step forward for same-sex couples.

"This is the first time to my knowledge that any wing of the Liberal Party in Australia, and it is the first time that the Young Liberal movement at a federal level, have agreed that same-sex couples deserve and should be given the same rights of de facto status as heterosexual couples," he said.


Monday, January 03, 2000

British municipality begins a civil naming ceremony for newborn babies

A story published today by This is London reports that some British parents will soon be able to have their children named at civil ceremonies rather than christened in church.

Under a pilot scheme involving Cheshire County registrars and 11 other local authorities the ceremonies will be held in register offices and approved buildings such as country houses and luxury hotels.

The story says the 20-minute naming ceremony, which can be adapted to meet individual needs, will involve a public declaration by parents to "support, love and care" for their child.

The new procedure is supported by the charity, Baby Naming Society, and backed by the Government in the Green Paper, Supporting Families.

The Government's Green Paper argues that naming ceremonies would enable parents to publicly show long-term commitment to their children and will allow unmarried parents to be seen as making a joint parental responsibility agreement.

According to the story, Martin Smith, manager of Cheshire's registration service, said: "The pilot scheme has been introduced to meet a need identified both by the Government and our own researchers.

"In fact one-third of those who registered births with us said that they would be interested in such a ceremony."

But Smith emphasized they were not trying to steer people away from the church - far from it.

"We are merely providing a service for those who feel they would rather make the commitment this way," he said.

The story says that a report on the proposed naming ceremonies will be considered by Cheshire's community development committee on January 10.


Sunday, January 02, 2000

Gay couple's babies refused official entry into England

A story published today in the London Evening Standard reports that a British gay couple who fathered surrogate twins to fulfil their dream of becoming parents have been refused official entry into England for their children.

Barrie Drewitt and Tony Barlow arrived back in Britain last week with the three-week-old babies only to be told by immigration officers that the infants did not have an automatic right to residence.

The story says that officials at Heathrow Airport allegedly confiscated the US passports issued to the children, Aspen and Saffron, and granted them one month's temporary stay in Britain while their legal status is considered.

The two millionaire businessmen, both British citizens from Danbury, Essex, conceived the children using donor eggs from one woman and sperm from one of the gay men before they were placed in the womb of a surrogate mother.

The story notes that the two men, who won a landmark legal victory in California where the babies were born to have both their names put on the birth certificates as parents, must now take legal steps to apply for residency and citizenship.

They are writing to Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary Jack Straw seeking clarification on the issue.


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