The Relationship between Attitudes to Freedom, Individualism and Gender Equality and Perceptions regarding Family Name Selection among Japanese “Lifestyle Migrants” in Australia

Dr Etsuko Toyoda1

1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

This paper presents findings from a study examining the relationship between attitudes to freedom, individualism and gender equality and perceptions regarding family name selection among Japanese “lifestyle migrants” in Australia. Since the 1990s, it has been identified that, unlike other East Asians, Japanese people migrate to Australia seeking a leisurely lifestyle. They value time with family more than work, appreciate freedom and individualism, and have gender equality perception. The participants of the current study, Japanese married couples living in Australia, showed a tendency of prioritising time with family over work, appreciating freedom and individualism, and holding liberal perceptions about gender equality. The study investigated whether these participants have questioned the Japanese marriage system that forces a couple to choose one spouse’s surname upon marriage, in which the majority of couples choose the husband’s due to the historical legacy and social expectation, after encountering the flexible Australian family name selection. The analysis of in-depth interview data suggests that, despite the participants’ positive attitudes towards freedom, individualism and gender equality, the majority of them have followed the Japanese marriage system and unquestioningly chosen the husband’s name, and their perceptions have not shifted much even after learning of other choices available in Australia.


Dr Etsuko Toyoda is Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies. She teaches advanced Japanese language subjects focusing on intercultural understanding. Her research interests include Language and Communication (Second Language Acquisition; Metacognitive Awareness, Japanese Linguistics, Intercultural Communication) and Japan Studies (Japanese Culture and Society, Acculturation, Family Values, Marriage and Surname)


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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