“I even told my husband I would rather he didn’t come home!” she jokes. But then she gets serious: “Because of this experience, I never wanted to have another baby. I believe the long working hours of husbands cause the low birth rate in Japan.”

Low birth rate is no joke in one of East Asia’s most affluent nations. “Japan’s population shrank by its largest amount on record in 2014,” reports Ana Swanson for The Washington Post. “Japan’s declining population has a powerful impact on its economic situation, and not for the better. An aging population leaves the country with fewer workers and more dependents. And conventional wisdom says aging leads to slower economic growth and more deflationary forces, both of which make it more difficult for Japan to chip away at the substantial debt burden from its economic crisis at the beginning of the 1990s.”

In essence, what may have contributed to much of Japan’s economic success—the world-famous Japanese work ethic—might, in the long run, spell economic doom.

Komuro, a former Shiseido beauty executive who knows her way around the board room, is a smiling prophet with a way out. She adds that since striking out at developing a more sane work-life balance, her husband has been able to alter his schedule, take on his fair share of household chores and parental duties—“doing as much as I do,” Komuro says. “My attitude has also completely changed, and I began to want to have another child. In fact, I am pregnant!”

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