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According to Japanese social norms the family is expected to be the fundamental support system, even if its members are on intimate terms with each other. In other words, intimacy within the modern Japanese family is assumed and consequently it is demanded that the family will provide support for its members.

As nuclear families replace extended ones, especially in Tokyo, once relationship problems within couples arise, there are often no other adults in the family who can intervene or mediate between the couple. This situation is likely to create further conflict and it is also difficult to seek outside support since it is thought that family problem should to be dealt with inside the family and if made public are a cause of shame. As a consequence of this issue, women often suffer.

Many kinds of mutual aid groups have developed in East Asian countries based on community or blood relations. The wider community which acts like an extended family has a number of well-developed networks which attempt to deal with a range of issues. However, as urbanisation continues, frequent migration and the increasing importance of the nuclear family, means that traditional mutual aid groups no longer perform their roles effectively.

This paper draws on qualitative interview data from women in Tokyo who have experienced mental health difficulties in relation to family issues. It explores the role of social support, especially informal types, in providing help for these women. It concludes by suggesting that alternative types of support within the community need to be developed in order to provide effective support for Japanese women experiencing mental health problems.

Full paper: Kamozawa_2009_family_mental_distress.pdf

This paper draws on a retrospective survey of 498 students in China and 481 in England and follow-up interviews, focusing on their experiences of physical punishment and disciplinary behaviour from mothers and fathers 'while growing up', including how they felt about their experiences and views concerning what might be perceived as 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' punishments. The paper focuses on the Chinese findings, while the English findings are referred to for comparison and debate. The findings are contextualised and discussed in relation to ongoing debates and policy development concerning children's right to safety. In the past decade in particular, there has been ongoing debate and development of policy in China regarding punishment of children, as well as what might constitute 'unacceptable' levels of punishment. The UN Convention on Rights of the Child came into force in China in 1992. The Chinese law for Protection of Minors 1991 stipulated that society and parents or other guardians have a direct role in protecting children from maltreatment, although some level of physical punishment continued to be perceived as acceptable for the purposes of discipline. The revised law on Protection of Minors 2006 has potentially shifted this by deeming inappropriate corporal punishment by teachers, if not by parents. With regard to the survey, as children the students mainly experienced similar types and levels of punishment, although with significant, gendered, differences regarding wilful behaviour and answering back by girls in China. The study indicated greater expectation in relation to educational achievement for boys in China - thus also echoing more traditional societal responses. Most of the respondents in China thought use of physical punishment acceptable for disciplining children, although there were also indications that this was being questioned and that some wanted to see change.