Japanese convenience stores are often lauded for their wide selection of prepared bento boxes and side dishes, but Family Mart's original lineup has recently become a center of controversy online due to its name. The series of readymade meals is titled "Okaasan no Shokudo" (お母さん食堂, or "Mother's Cafeteria") in Japanese, and the naming has been come under scrutiny this past month when three Japanese high school students started an online petition to change the name, claiming it reinforces gender stereotypes and puts the onus of cooking on a household's mother.

The petition was posted to Change.org by three high school students (from Kyoto, Okayama, and Hyogo prefectures) with the hope of collecting signatures to change the "Mother's Cafeteria" name of the series for what they believe is a move towards gender equality, inclusion, and understanding that not every household shares the same family structure or handling of work and chores.

They detailed their reasoning on the petition page:

"It can promote an unconscious bias that 'it's obvious that cooking is a woman's duty'. In Japan, there is a strong sense of the value that women should handle housework and childcare, so there are many women who have no choice but to quit their jobs.

We want to change the image of "mothers = cooking" and lessen the burden on mothers around the world. We are against a society where roles are defined by gender and people have to give up on things.

Convenience stores are rooted in our daily lives and have huge influence on us. We think believe that changing the name can will lead to a society of gender equality."

The petition and criticism of the name has led to debate online, with voices of both support...

"The name has always bothered me. My father always cooked in my house. The idea of "woman = cooking" is outdated."

"These are Showa Era (1926–1989) values. I think by changing things little by little, the sense of prejudice in the world can be changed as well."

"This might actually be gender bias. I understand it's supposed to reflect on "the taste of your mother's cooking" but..."

And dissent:

"Isn't the name of the lineup supposed to be referring to "a cafeteria to help out mothers who are too busy to cook?" It's in support of working mothers."

"The "taste of a mother's cooking" is a phrase that's been around a long time. I don't think there's a problem. It's just hunting for politically incorrect words."

"I think it's a warm and friendly name. The "taste of your mom's cooking" stays in your memories for a long time."

By - grape Japan editorial staff.