I actually seem to recall reading a column debunking this phenomenon... but darn it I can't find it... anyone else manage?
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I've never heard WaiWai decribed as anything else but a sensationalist, tabloid rag. Just look at the linked articles.
Unless someone can find a legitimate source that reported on the same story, I'd say this is nothing more then the bastard offspring of a slow news day and an overimaginative writer.
-------------------- All along the untrodden paths of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand. Posts: 6912 | From: Flanders | Registered: Jan 2004
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The Red and the Green Stamps
You'll have to excuse me as I was dying from a fit of the giggles, my Japanese friends were at first shocked that something like this was actually printed but then they died with laughter as well once they saw the source.
I’ll mention, though, that Anne Allison’s Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) has a whole chapter devoted to these rumors of overzealouskyoiku mamas ("education mamas"), those (allegedly) willing to do anything to help their sons pass entrance exams into prestigious high schools. Hers is a complex analysis, worth reading in its entirety, but difficult to summarize here.
In essence, though, she argues that while incest exists in Japan, it’s no more prevalent in that country than it is in its industrialized counterparts. Morever, while it’s obviously possible that a few such creepy incidents may have taken place in the family home, there’s no evidence that this particular scenario between overworked and overstressed schoolboys and their overdevoted mothers is at all pervasive in Japanese society or accepted by it.
Allison observes that these mother-son incest tales seem to have emerged in the mid-1970s; they likely reflect a long-submerged societal reaction to the constant pressure of having to rebuild a society devastated by war, one whose definition by traditional social structures was supplanted by the (imposed) adoption of American ways of life, where (men’s) professional performance (and sons’ school performance) had been the means of getting to the top of the heap.
Gender roles, she tells us, in Japan had been up until the ‘60s and ‘70s fairly strictly defined, with the home and family the expected focuses of most women. It was as women began to enter the male-dominated business world that these deviant "education mama" stories started to appear; Allison points out that, as of 2000 at least, these tales were being told with less frequency.
This narrative, like any good urban legend, holds a twist. The shock is that it’s the Japanese mother (and wife) who somehow manages to gain the upper hand over the males in her life: she either acquiesces to her son’s "needs" (or demands) or "enslaves" him (not only to insure the family’s goal that he do well, but also -- in some versions -- to gain the sexual satisfaction she never is able to achieve with his ever-absent working father), and at the same time she manages to have an illicit "affair" within her husband’s house, a form of payback for his own straying outside the marriage. Interestingly, the mothers depicted are not always portrayed as martyrs or villains; sometimes these tales show women achieving liberation (in terms of sexuality and power) by means of these twisted relationships. Males with traditional views about gender roles are perhaps alternately threatened, fascinated, repulsed, and titillated by such stories.
Bonnie "NFJSK" Taylor
A few relevant excerpts from Chapter 6: "Transgressions of the Everyday: Stories of Mother-Son Incest in Japanese Popular Culture," pp. 123-145,
quote:In the 1980s a number of stories about mother-son incest were reported in the popular press in Japan. The elements of each were remarkably consistent: An adolescent male entering the period of intense study leading up to entrance exams is distracted by sexual desire. His mother, who has assumed the role of a kyoiku mama, notices the distraction and worries that it will obstruct the boy's work. To prevent this, she offers to become her son's lover and thereby satisfy his pressing need. The boy complies and the two commence an affair. The sexual relationship, found deeply pleasurable by both partners, quickly turns the boy into a model student. In the end the boy typically passes his exams and is appreciative to his mother for her help. The incest, however, does not end. Rather, the confusing relationship between man-woman and mother-son is left unresolved at the story's close.
Circulating in the mass media of low- to relatively high-brow publications (magazines for young women such as Josei Jishin, for adult women such as Fujin Koron, and for mixed adult audiences such as Gendai no Me), the tale of mother-son incest knits together two plots. The first narrative is entrance-exam preparation. Referred to as jukenbenkyo (literally, “exam preparation”) or "exam hell" (shiken jigoku), it typically lasts from one to two years, can cost families vast sums of money, is a time when students are expected to sacrifice friends and hobbies to spend long hours in study, and characteristically involves incredible efforts on the parts of mothers ([ref.]). Exams determine acceptance into high school and university and thus into Japan's "school-record society" (gakureki shakai), where the schools one attends are the single most important factor deciding employment and career. Exam results largely determine adult identity, social status, and job security, at least for males.
Coupled to this story is one about the transgressive union of mother and son in sexual passion. The articles describe these unions as "fearful," "shocking," “surprising," "upsetting," and "scary," descriptors marking the acts as deviant and illicit. Though the actual frequency of incest is impossible to assess,  those who speak publicly about it generally agree that the competitiveness of the educational system and a gendered division of labor that mitigates against the presence of adult men in the home encourage what is often called an overpresence of the mother in the lives of children. Matricentric Japanese families are often described in terms of excesses,  but few actually claim that incestuous sex is anything more than a rare occurrence. The Japanese I spoke to about incest, mainly middle-class housewives, all claimed to find the idea shocking. Many, nonetheless, also added a story they knew of someone, someplace who had supposedly been involved in just such a relationship.
 Police records figure incest only incidentally (in the life histories of adolescent boys caught for delinquency, for example, where maternal incest has been found to be fairly common [references]), and statistics that report incest are unavailable or unreliable.
. Such descriptions are formulated, for example, as the excessive attention mothers focus on their children and the extended dependence of children on their mothers ([references]).
Allison points out the stereotypical form of these narratives,
quote:[W]hat is compelling about the Japanese mother-son incest stories of the 1970s is their repetition of the same, fetishized scenario. All of the stories bracket the relationship between mother and male child as it enters the pivotal stage of exam preparation, which signals a boy's maturation into adulthood, a mother's test of her skills as a good mother, and the eventual separation between mother and child as the son moves on to school and a job. Sexual desire intrudes on this scene usually from the direction of the maturing boy and threatens the socially appropriate completion of the mother-son relation. Mother fears the sexualized boy will abandon his studies, fail to achieve success on his exams, and compromise his future. Her son's failure would also mark her own failure as a mother. As the woman wards off this threat by offering to be her son's sexual companion, she achieves sexual gratification for herself but also fulfills satisfactorally her job of maternal social reproduction and thereby papers over with fantasy a gap in her own life. Rarely do the stories of mother-son incest go beyond this point. The scenario thus stalls and repeats on just two interactions, sex between mother and son and cooperation on exam preparation.
In 1979, a phone counseling service began publicizing that it was receiving calls describing acts of mother-son incest. Allison notes that in 1978 the agency received 130 such calls out of the total 16,218 fielded by staff. She also goes on to say that the then-director of this counseling agency
quote:told me that virtually all of the incest callers were boys, most of whom she figured were using the incest as fantasy to masturbate while talking on the phone to an older, female counselor. Still she found the stories disturbing. They indicated, in her view, unhealthy strains in Japanese family life and society. [The director’s] reaction, like those of many status quo media commentators, stressed the tragedy of incest. In the stories that assume a similar position, the boy is characterized as the victim of a selfish and transgressive mother whose deviance rests entirely and solely in her sexuality but who, in every other respect, conforms to the standards of good motherhood.
“The Truth and Falsehood of the Fantasy of Mother-Sun Incest” appeared in 1980 in Gendai no Me, a publication Allison deems a “respectable journal.” As Allison points out, the purpose of the article was
quote:to challenge the reality of mother-son incest, which [the author] says burgeoned as a new fad and cultural fantasy in the mid-1970s. She disputes the reports of its frequency, arguing (on the basis of data from Hinin Sodanshitsu) that it occurs no more often in Japan than in countries such as the United States, and she lambasts the press as well as the public for circulating a sensationalist myth. Still, she admits some truth to the stories, finding them to be crystallizations of gendered domestic relations that reproduce dependent, childish men, a situation [the author] blames on mothers.
Interestingly, Allison also reports that,
quote:just a few years before the mass mediazation of incest, a series of imagined and real stories appeared about newly born babies abandoned by their mothers in coin lockers at public places such as train stations. Sixty-eight cases were reported between 1969 and 1975 ([ref.]). As narrativized by Murakami Ryu in his novel Koin Roka Bebi (Coin Locker Babies), the scenario of child abandonment came to signify a mother who was so consumed by her own desires that she literally killed her baby. The desires of these mothers were conceived then to be virtually life (nation) threatening.
-------------------- Se non è vero, è ben trovato. Posts: -99014 | From: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2000
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My Japanese Advisor told me there were reported incidents in the past decade or so. They're a lot more rare than people make them out to be though. Of course now it's a verrrrry popular theme in comics and other stories(I had to read a lot of articles on underground comics for my thesis, since they were the only ones published in the US, despite the fact my thesis was explicitly on mainstream comics).
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