Q Why is managing the family budget left entirely to the wife?

A According to a survey by the Prime Minister's Office, the breakdown of those managing the family budget in
Japan is as follows: husband 5.2%, wife 79.4%, and both 11.8%. In the United States, the breakdown is as follows: husband 14.6%, wife 36.5%, and both 45.5%. There are more wives managing the family budget in Japan.

Japan has long maintained a patriarchal family system where the husband appeared to control evetything, but actually, the custom of the wife managing the affairs of the family was pervasive. This custom has survived to the present day. The wife obeyed the orders of the family head in the sanm-rai and in large merchant families during the Edo period ( 1600- 1868), but in many cases, it was the wife who was responsible for managing the household affairs (family budget).

This arrangement was maintained from the Meiji period (1868-1912) onward by families in the middle class and above. It is the husband who controls the purse strings in the West, but in Japan it is considered a disgrace for the man of the house to meddle too much in affairs concerning the family budget.

For the common people, there was no superior or inferior ranking in a husband and wife relationship. They both worked together and the wife was additionally responsible for housework and child care. Whether or not the man wears the pants in the house or is henpecked depends on who wields power in the household, but basically it is the wife who determines how much to spend on daily expenses and how much to put into savings.