RHS: Retired husband syndrome in Japan

UPDATE:Wet fallen leaves

Japan: Retired Husband Syndrome
BBC News, Monday, 13 November 2006, 16:14 GMT
In Japan it is estimated that 60% of older women have a common problem – their husbands. Having spent years “married to their jobs”, retired men are having an extraordinary effect on the health of their partners….
…. change in Japanese divorce law (giving wives a share of their husband’s pension) is scheduled for early 2007...more

The favorite term Japanese wives have for retired husbands sodaigomi (粗大ごみ) “big trash you have to pay to get rid of” and nureochiba” (濡れ落ち葉) fallen wet leaves sticky and hard to get rid of. However, I think the the feminist term for ex-salaryman husband, “industrial waste” (産業廃棄物), is the best description. These guys were nearly useless for their last years in their companies because of lack of computer skills and upon retirement they find themselves more than useless and unwanted in their own homes. Sad to say, the sodaigomi spouse syndrome in Japan is universal and very understandable.

Actually, it’s too “understandable”—even the English language press has been reporting this for years now. It’s not “news” but the BBC brought it up again because the divorce-bonanza law is coming into effect soon (2007).

Last year I was out mushroom hunting with Japanese housewives in my local forest and EVERYONE got real quiet when I started telling stories of husband killing with poisonous mushrooms in ethnic communities back in the States. Nobody wanted to talk about poison mushroom deaths even though Japan has plenty of poisonous mushrooms. Hmmm, now the only mystery is: Why there are so few murders of retired husbands in the fall mushroom season?

Old article….

Sick of Their Husbands in Graying Japan
Stress Disorder Diagnosed in Many Women After Spouses Retire
Washington Post,

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I'm a pale, alien, quadruped who has worked for 25+ years at "Maybe-the-Largest Inc." in Tokyo.

4 thoughts on “RHS: Retired husband syndrome in Japan”

  1. I’m a clincal psychologist who published the above mentioned self-help book in 2001 about making marrige work in retirement. I would like to get in touch with the psychiatrist Kurokawa who diagnosed RHS. Could you please help me.

  2. There’s only a phone 0832-86-2057 and postal contact information for Dr . Kurokawa who diagnosed RHS.Å@

    Dr. Nobuo Kurokawa (Kurokawa Internal Medicine Clinic)
    Yoshimi Honcho 1-1-22
    Shimonoseki city
    Yamaguchi prefecture

    Phone 0832-86-2057
    黒川内科クリニック 吉見本町1-1-22

  3. A new era of divorce set to begin
    Daily Yomiuri, 15/Nov/2006

    A potential avalanche of divorces is set to occur after April 1, when a new system under the public pension scheme will begin, making a divorcing wife eligible for a maximum of 50 percent of her company employee husband’s pension benefits.

    Many women in their middle or older years are believed to be waiting for the system to begin before divorcing their husbands, according to analysts.

    With the new system to start in less than six months, civic groups have been sponsoring explanatory sessions in many parts of the country. A great majority of attendants have been middle-aged and older women.

    In a meeting held in Kawasaki last month, one woman said, “My husband would be certain to refuse a 50-50 split of pension benefits [if we divorced].

  4. Prof. Keiko Higuchi popularized term sangyo haiki butsu (Industrial Waste) to describe Japanese husbands and her speech below gives you a further background of the terms.


    The typical case of retired husbands who are considered nuisances around the house after being so work-oriented (or perhaps better put, so non-home oriented) for most of their lives. They are not necessarily mother complex type. Just they don’t know what to do at home. In serious cases their wives are suffered from Stress Syndrome caused from their husbands being home. That could be ended in the divorce after 35 years of marriage. That could be difficult to understand by western Christian culture. If you cou ld put up with your partner for 35 years, you might as well manage for the rest of your life. However, in Japanese culture, husbands are allowed to devote 98 percent of their energy for work as long as they support their family financially. Wives have to manage entire home life including education of children. Wives could manage home lives eventually without husbands. The saying like ‘the best husband is healthy and never home(Teishu genki de rusu ga ii) is supported by many Japanese wives after all. They are not used to share lives together. So all of sudden after 35 years, if they have to face their retired husbands everyday and night, wives get sick. That is a part of 2007 issue, which means baby boomers reach the retirement age of 60 in the year 2007 and in April 2007, pension law changes for a divorcing wife to be able to claim 50 percent of husband’s pension. So considerable numbers of wives are regarded to wait for April next year to start their new life getting away from their sticky husbands to caused them stress oriented sickness.

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