Are women NOT worth being called by their individual names in Japan?

After I came to Canada, I was quietly surprised that people call each other by their individual names. Maybe you don’t understand what I am talking about, or you might think I am insane saying like that. But, please don’t close this page, yet. I am pretty serious.

I read somebody’s tweet, the other day.

He said,

…there are many places where you are called by your title (of your job) rather than your name. I think it is a kind of insult, feel like that I am not treated as a human. Is that only me?

This is my retweet, saying about women in Japan who are also not often called by their names.

It is true that people often call others by job titles or the relationship to themselves.  For example:

“看護師さん(Mr/Ms Nurse)” to somebody working in hospitals,
”運転手さん(Mr/Ms Driver)” in a taxi,
”奥さん(A wife)”,
”○○のママ(somebody’s mum)”…

Possibly you may say ‘Mr/Ms. Nurse’ or ‘Mr/Ms. Driver’ in your country, too.

”奥さん(A wife)” is not even “somebody’s wife” or “Mrs. somebody”. It means ‘a wife’, if I literally translate it. ”○○のママ(somebody’s mum)” is often used among the mothers in the same school, I suppose. People remember the other kids’ names in the class, but don’t remember their mothers’ names.

I guess I should explain a little more.

Imagine, my child and your child are going to the same school, we have met some times, so we know each other. One day you and I meet in the school when both are picking up the kids, you could say, “Hi, X’s mum! How are you?” I may respond, “Hey, I am alright. How are you, Y’s mum?” ….Why don’t we say just ‘Hana” and your name?

It does sound weird to me, how about to you?


Although they use the word “先生(sensei, meaning a doctor, teacher, master or guru)” with respect, towards their teachers, lawyers, medical doctors or politicians, still I cannot stop wondering if Japanese people are just too lazy to remember other people’s names.

I grew up in that society, for me here is another world where I need to memorize everybody’s names. I am not going to say which is good or bad. However, I can say that women in Japan are treated more anonymous.

Now, if I have to choose which society to live in, I would say, I’d prefer to be always called “Hana” by my name, rather than “X’s mum” or “A wife”.