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As Japan’s leaders push residents to minimize the length and number of outings, an attempt this week by Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui to add the personal touch ended up touching off a firestorm. He suggested the best way to reduce shopping time was to delegate it to the man of the family.

“Men are faster. They just buy what they’re told,” he asserted. “Men go straight to where the product is shelved, put it in the basket. It saves time.”

“I don’t think this is an issue of gender,” a male reporter gently pushed back. “It sounds odd when you say, ‘women take more time to shop.'”

The 56-year-old conservative was unshakeable. “Well, in my house, my wife takes longer, and I’m faster.”

Mayor of Osaka and leader of the Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) Ichiro Matsui attends a debate session at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan, in a July 3, 2019 file photo.

Issei Kato/REUTERS


The reaction was swift and generally unsympathetic. “People who have no clue what daily life is about, we don’t need their advice,” said one tweet.

“My husband ends up choosing the more expensive brand,” said one woman. “Old dudes hanging around the store, don’t they just get in the way? Better for them to stay home and watch the kids.”

Recent government statistics show that while Japanese politics remains stuck in the Mad Men era, its society has drastically shifted. The most recent government white paper on gender equity found 11.88 million double-income households, and only 6.41 million families with a full-time housewife. Even so, a private survey last year by the Recruit company of over 1,000 full-time-employed couples found women still end up saddled with 70% of household and childcare chores.