Kawaii culture is celebrated overseas for its uniqueness to Japanese culture, but one woman in particular is not a big fan of this cute part of Japanese society. Her name is Akie Abe, wife of current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and she is speaking up, demanding that all women take a stand and proudly carry themselves  like the independent and capable individuals that they're supposed to be.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Akie Abe made it very clear where she stands when it comes to women and their place in Japanese society. "Men’s thinking has not changed," said the 54-year old wife of the conservative prime minister. "Japanese men tend to prefer cute women over capable and hardworking women. So women try to appear to be the type that men like. Even very talented women put on cutesy ways." Despite her husband being known for his often hardline and traditional political views, Akie is showing herself to be a staunch supporter of women's rights, at least on the surface. Even as more and more women now continue to work after marriage and becoming mothers, the corporate world is still very much run and controlled by men, something Akie Abe acknowledges that must be changed. This is all encouraging, but the reality is that her thoughts are being made public during a time Japan needs women to be a part of the workforce, as the country faces economic uncertainty due to an aging and shrinking population. 

So Mrs Abe is now finally telling women to throw away the kawaii, and become strong and independent. Any talk of improving women's rights in Japan is positive and should be celebrated, but why one can't be kawaii and independent at the same time is a question to be asked at another time. But for now, the prime minister's wife is saying kawaii is no good, that it undermines a woman's dignity. Not that the younger generation in Japan cares what she says. They all know politics is politics, and kawaii culture is definitely not going anywhere.

"No more kawaii!" - Akie Abe


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