Satoshi Sato had been preparing his lines all afternoon. At 44, he admits he had rather got out of the habit of complimenting his wife, Tomoko. But last night he took the first step towards showing her that Japanese men can change - and he can improve his marriage. 'I have to show her that I appreciate her and all that she does,' said Mr Sato, who works with the local government in the village of Tsumagoi, north of Tokyo. 'I don't do enough for her, so I'm going to tell her what a really good job she does and how grateful I am for all the cooking and cleaning she does. And I'm going to apologise for not helping.' And Mr Sato was not alone on this day of atonement for Japan's men - long the master of the family and insensitive to the needs of their families. It may be small at the moment, but the Japan Doting Husbands' Association is aiming to reverse generations of inbred sexism and declared January 31 the first annual Beloved Wives Day. The association's 119 members vowed to leave work early and go straight home, where they would sit down to a family meal - cooked, of course, by their wives. Tsumagoi has become the headquarters of the association, which is the brainchild of Kiyotaka Yamana. Mr Yamana's first wife divorced him because he spent all his time working, and he did not want to make the same mistake with his second wife.