To his shock, Yoko blurts out that she wants a divorce.
That was the scenario for one of this season's most popular Japanese television drama series,“Jukunen Rikon”or“Mature Divorce,”reflecting a phenomenon that many commentators fear may balloon as Japan's baby-boom generation heads into old age.
“We get more and more consultations like this,”said Atsuko Okano, who runs Carat Club, a divorce counselling service.“Women are becoming more independent. When their husbands retire, they realize they have 20 or 30 years of life ahead of them and they don't want to carry on as before.”
With a new law set to come into force in 2007 allowing ex-wives to claim half their husband's pension, domestic media are warning of a possible divorce boom.
The number of Japanese couples parting ways has risen rapidly over the past 20 years to a 2002 peak of 290,000, while divorce among those married more than 20 years has increased even faster.
Some Japanese women see their husbands as an obstacle to enjoying their sunset years.
With few hobbies or friends to turn to, many Japanese retirees, often nicknamed“wet leaves”for their tendency to cling to their wives, spend their time at home.
What's more, they expect their spouses to wait on them as they did when they were bread-winners.
“One of the worst things was always having to make his lunch,”said Sayoko Nishida, author of a popular book called“Why Are Retired Husbands Such A Nuisance?.”
Many men set to retire in the next few years have lived largely separate lives from their families for decades, preferring to devote themselves to their jobs ?an arrangement some wives start to like, Okano said.
Counsellors say a rise in similar cases in the real world could be a disaster. Women may face poverty, since the job market is less than welcoming to those who have devoted their lives to their families, while half a meager pension might not provide much of a living. Men often end up lonely and in poor health.