A group of Japanese men were hoping to encourage the nation's legions of workaholic husbands to head home early and show their wives some appreciation proclaimed January 31 "Beloved Wives Day".
The group, which calls itself the "Japan Doting Husbands Association", urged men to get home by 8 p.m. and say thanks to their wives for all they do.
"Many men can't put their feelings of gratitude towards their wives into words. Work is number one for them," the non-profit group says on its Web site, http://www.aisaika.org "This attitude is putting Japanese marriages under great pressure."
Statistics bear this out. Japan's divorce rate has risen steadily over the years. In 2004, more than one in three marriages ended in divorce.
The group urges men to improve the marital mood through five "golden rules" including going home early, calling wives by their given name and looking them in the eyes when talking. Many Japanese husbands call their wives "you" rather than addressing them by name, or in some cases merely grunt.
The group's homepage includes a column where husbands can write down feelings they are too shy to say out loud.
"I'm sorry I had a car accident. I'm sorry I'm away so much on business trips. I'm sorry I end up sleeping at the office so often," said one from a man in Kanagawa, near to Tokyo.
"Thank you for loving me just the same."