You are here


, New Approaches: #MeToo in Japan and the UK, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, 2018

In this seminar, the impact of #MeToo was discussed in relation to the UK and Japan. The speakers outlined the implications and effects that the movement has had across each society and the extent to which it may impact government policies and legislation. The discussion also noted the challenges that the movement faces in both Japan and the UK.

A link to the video of the Conference can be found here:

A summary of two presentation can be read here

Apter, David E. ; Sawa, Nagayo, Against the State: Politics and Social Protest in Japan, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 1984, pp. 271

Analysis of major campaign by agricultural community against loss of land for Narita airport.

Broadbent, Jeffrey, Environmental Politics in Japan: Networks of Power and Protest, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 418

Examines dilemma of growth versus environmentalism, and how Japan has resolved it, with focus on how anti-pollution protests 1960s-1973 changed government policy , using the movement in one prefecture as a case study.

Bullock, Julia ; Kano, Ayako ; Welker, James, Rethinking Japanese Feminisms, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 2018, pp. 288

This book draws on a wide range of academic disciplines to present the very diverse nature of feminist thought and activism in Japan since the early 20th century. It covers employment, education, literature and the arts, as well as feminist protests and initiatives. The book includes ideas and approaches adopted by a range of cultural and socio-political groups that have not bee labeled feminist, but which have promoted ideas and values close to feminism. It also examines important aspects of feminist history to challenge the mainstream interpretation of them.

Caldecott, Leonie, At the foot of the mountain: The Shibokusa women of Mount Fuji, ed. Jones, Lynne, In Jones, Keeping the Peace (F.6. War and Women's Resistance), London, The Women's Press, pp. 98-107

Account of prolonged struggle to recover agricultural land occupied by US forces in 1945 and later retained by Japanese armed forces.

Chiavacci, David ; Obinger, Julia, Social Movements and Political Activism in Contemporary Japan: Re-emerging from Invisibility, Oxon and New York, Routledge, 2018, pp. 212

This book explores social movements and forms of political activism in contemporary Japan, arguing that the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident led to a resurgence in social and protest movements and inaugurated a new era of civic engagement. Re-examines older and recent forms of activism in Japan, as well as provides studies of specific movements that developed after Fukushima. The book considers structural challenges that activists face in contemporary Japan, and how the newly developing movements have been shaped by the neo-conservative policies of the Japanese government. The authors also considers how the Japanese experience adds to our understanding of how social movements work, and whether it might challenge prevailing theoretical frameworks.

Cockburn, Cynthia, Anti-Militarism: Political and Gender Dynamics of Peace Movements, London, Pluto Press, 2012, pp. 320

Feminist peace activist provides her theoretical perspective on cross-national case studies including UK peace movement, War Resisters’ International, anti-militarist campaigns in Spain, Korea and Japan, and the anti-NATO demonstrations in Strasbourg 2009.

Dalton, Emma, Sexual harassment of women politicians in Japan, Journal of Gender-Based Violence, Vol. 1, no. 2, 2017, pp. 205-219

Three women were appointed to politically powerful and historically significant positions in Japan in 2016. Koike Yuriko became the first female governor of Tokyo, Renho Murata became the leader of the opposition party, the Democratic Party, and Inada Tomomi became the Minister of Defence. Despite these gains, Japanese politics can be a hostile place for women. Japan's national legislative assembly has the lowest representation of women among OECD countries, and harassment of women in politics is common. Situating Japan within the emerging ‘Violence Against Women in Politics’ (VAWP) literature, the author draws on a 2014 survey of women politicians about their experiences of sexual harassment as well as interviews with individual women politicians. Harassment is a 'hidden' problem due to ineffective legislation and a lack of awareness of what forms it takes. The author argues that the first step in combating sexual harassment of women in politics in Japan is to make it visible.

Dalton, Emma, A feminist critical discourse analysis of sexual harassment in the Japanese political and media worlds, ed. Bullock, Julia, Kano, Ayako, Welker, James, Women's Studies International Forum, Vol. 77, 2019, pp. 1-10

This article examines sexual harassment that has occurred worlds of media and politics in Japan, in the context of the global (mostly Western) #MeToo movement. It argues that harassment by male political leaders constitutes a pattern and should not be seen simply as isolated individual incidents. This pattern occurs within a cultural context that discourages women from speaking out about individual grievances. The naming of this pattern of sexual harassment is important to address ‘Violence Against Women in Politics’ (VAWP), a problem around the world. The public and media outrage directed at individual sexist statements by male politicians often dissipates, only to emerge again after the next sexist incident makes headlines. By establishing a pattern of sexual harassment, the author aims to show that there is a systemic problem facing all women working in politics or in close proximity to politicians in Japan.

Greenwood, Ian ; McBride, Jo, Community Unionism: A Comparative Analysis of Concepts and Contexts, Basingstoke, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009, pp. 264

Explores the diverse meanings of community unionism, provides case studies from the UK – the ‘London’s living wage’ campaign, and activism by black and minority workers and migrant workers – and from Japan, Australia and the US.

Gross, Corinna, Rebel Girls: Radical Feminism and Self-Narrative in Early 20th-Century Japan and China, The Division Languages and Literatures of Bard College, 2019, pp. 107

Compares the evolution of the role of women in the Japanese and Chinese society from the 19th Century to today.

Hasunuma, Linda ; Shin, Ki-young, MeToo in Japan and South Korea: #WeToo, #WithYou, Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Vol. 40, no. 1, 2019, pp. 97-111

This article compares the impact of the #MeToo movement in South Korea and Japan. In South Korea, #MeToo inspired many women to go public with their accusations in numerous high-profile cases. Those accusations in turn inspired mass demonstrations and demands for legal reform. In South Korea, the movement also led to policy proposals and the revision of laws on sexual harassment and gender-based violence. In Japan, however, the movement has grown more slowly. Fewer women made public accusations, and if they did, they tended to remain anonymous. The movement has been limited to a small number of cases leading to a professional network to support women journalists. The authors argue that the different outcomes can be explained by the strength of women’s engagement in civil society and the nature of the media coverage in each case. In both countries, however, women continue to face a powerful backlash that includes victim-blaming and social and professional sanctions for speaking up.

Havens, Thomas, Fire Across the Sea: The Vietnam War and Japan, 1965-1975, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1987, pp. 330

Covers growth of a major anti-war movement of rallies and marches against Japanese government support for the US in the war and the use of US bases in Japan.

Jayawardena, Kumari, Feminism And Nationalism In The Third World, London and New York, Verso, 2016, pp. 304

By demolishing the myth that feminism originated in the West, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality. Gives particular attention to Afghanistan, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam.

To look at a brief extract of the book see also

Kedzior, Sya Buryn ; Leonard, Liam, Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements, ed. Kalland, Arne, Persoon, Gerard, Bingley, Emerald Publishing Group, 2014, pp. 275

Covers range of environmental campaigns in different parts of the world, including Ireland, France, Israel, Japan, India and Indonesia.

Kelsey, Kim, Set in Bronze: Examining the Women’s Movements and the Politics of Comfort Women Memorialization, Vol. Master of Arts in Anthropology, Los Angeles, University of California, 2018, pp. 47

After decades of silence, many surviving ‘comfort women’ – sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army in World War Two - have publicly come forward to demand justice through apologies and reparations. The Japanese government has continued to deny responsibility. In response, supporters of ‘comfort women’ have created public memorials throughout the world, particularly in the US. These memorials have led to Japanese diplomatic intervention and demands for their removal, sparking a battle for recognition in the public sphere. This thesis explores the ‘comfort women’ movement and the controversy surrounding the memorials, reexamining these memorials as a form of recognition, reparations and reconciliation.

The thesis can be accessed here 


Knight, John, The Forest Grant Movement in Japan, In Kalland; Persoon, Environmental Movements in Asia (C.1.a. General and International Studies), London and New York, Routledge, pp. 110-130

Litz, Alex, Calling Myself a Feminist in Japan, Uprizine, 2019

Wakako Fukuda, one of the leading voices of the SEALDs (Student Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) activist group in Japan, speaks about her experience of being discriminated against at work, and endlessly harassed online, for her strong presence in the Japanese feminist activist community.

McCurry, Justin, Shiori Ito, symbol’s of Japan’s MeToo movement, wins rape lawsuit damages, The Guardian, 2019

Japanese journalist Shiori Ito was awarded damages after publicly accusing Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a famous TV presenter, of rape in 2017. Her case became a symbol of Japan’s MeToo movement and of the country’s failure to investigate allegations of rape and sexual assaults. After Shiori Ito went public, the documentary ‘Japan’s Secret Shame’ was released by the BBC, covering violence towards women, and structural inequality and discrimination against women in Japan, as well as on her individual case.

Nakoaa, Yuka, Feminist scholar calls Japan's gender problem "human disaster", Kyodo News, 2019

Finland’s Han Honours award, which recognizes individuals promoting equality around the world, was given to Professor Chizuko Ueno, a Women’s Studies scholar in January 2019 for her research and books, and also for her activism for women’s right in Japan. She has provoked debates on issues such as gender discrimination and sexual violence. This article, which notes several high profile recent incidents exposing sexism in Japan, reports Professor Ueno’s comments on sexism.

Nemoto, Kumiko, Too Few Women At The Top. The Persistence Of Inequality In Japan, New York, Cornell University Press, 2016, pp. 296

The number of women in positions of power and authority in Japanese companies has remained small despite the increase in the number of educated women and the laws on gender equality. Kumiko Nemoto challenges claims that the surge in women’s education and employment will logically lead to the decline of gender inequality and eventually improve women’s status in the Japanese workplace. Interviews with diverse groups of workers at three Japanese financial companies and two cosmetics companies in Tokyo reveal the persistence of vertical sex segregation as a cost-saving measure. Women’s progress is impeded by corporate customs such as pay and promotion, track-based hiring of women, long working hours, and the absence of women leaders. Gender equality for common businesses requires that Japan fundamentally depart from its postwar methods of business management. Comparison with the situation in the United States makes the author’s analysis of the Japanese case relevant for understanding the dynamics of the glass ceiling in U.S. workplaces as well.

Ochoa, Danielle ; Manalastas, Eric Julian ; Deguchi, Makiko ; Louis, Winnifred R., Mobilising Men: Ally Identities and Collective Action in Japan and the Philippines, Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, Vol. 13, no. 14, 2019, pp. 1-11

Men have an important role as allies in reducing discrimination against women. Using the Social Identity Model of Collective Action (SIMCA), the authors examined whether men's identification with women would predict their allied collective actions. They also examined whether men’s identification with their own group would reduce their willingness to improve women's situation. They found that moral beliefs and a sense of group efficacy made men more likely to join in collective action to combat discrimination against women. They also discuss the possible role of norms and concept of legitimacy in society in explaining the pattern of results.

O’Mochain, Robert, Sexual Harassment: A Critical Issue for EFL in Japan, The Language Teacher, Vol. 43, no. 1, 2019, pp. 9-13

Since the end of 2017, many controversies and social media campaigns, especially the “#MeToo” movement, have kept the issue of sexual harassment in the public eye, intentionally, but its impact in Japan has been limited. This is surprising as sexual harassment is prevalent in many social spheres in Japan, including in educational institutions. This article outlines the extent of the problem and provides suggestions for classroom activities and educational initiatives to raise awareness for the transformation of currently toxic conditions.

Packard, George R., Protest in Tokyo: The Security Treaty Crisis of 1960, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1966, pp. 423

Includes coverage of petitions, strikes and demonstrations of May-June 1960 with emphasis on role of Zengakuren student organization.

Siripala, Thisanka, Slow to start, Japan is finally having a #MeToo moment, PRI, 2018

Addresses the development of the #MeToo movement in Japan that captured the nation's attention in April 2018 after a top-ranking Finance Ministry official was accused by a female reporter of repeated sexual harassment. A secret recording published online revealed the bureaucrat asking the reporter, “Can I kiss you?” and “Can I hug you?” and “Can I touch your breasts?” during an interview.

See also

Soliman, Rosemary, Women In Social Movements In Japan: A Study Of Changing Roles And Strategies In Political Participation Since The 1970s, Vol. PhD, Tokyo, Waseda University, 2018, pp. 271

This work explores the causes of women’s under-representation of women in Japanese politics, their portrayal in Japanese media and the extent of their participation in social movements.

Stettner, Shannon ; Acherman, Katrina ; Burnett, Kristin ; Hay, Travis, Transcending Borders. Abortion in the Past and Present, Cham, Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 360

This volume investigates different abortion and reproductive practices across time, space, geography, national boundaries, and cultures. The authors specialise in the reproductive politics of Australia, Bolivia, Cameroon, France, ‘German East Africa,’ Ireland, Japan, Sweden, South Africa, the United States and Zanzibar, and cover the pre-modern era and the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as the present day. Contributors draw on different theoretical frameworks, including ‘intersectionality’ and ‘reproductive justice’ to explore the very varied conditions in which women have been forced to make these life-altering decisions.  

Vittinghoff, Anna, A brief introduction to Japanese feminism, Post graduate Gender Research Network of Scotland, 2018

Briefly outlines the history of feminism from the Meiji era (1868-1912) until the present.

Weiss, Meredith Leigh ; Aspinall, Edward, Student Activism in Asia: Between Protest and Powerlessness, ed. Solomon, Clare, Palmieri, Tania, Minneapolis MN, University of Minnesota Press, 2012, pp. 318

Comparative examination of student-led protest challenging governments in Asia since the Second World War, with a focus on Burma, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines

Wong, Anny, The Anti-Tropical Timber Campaign in Japan, In Kalland; Persoon, Environmental Movements in Asia (C.1.a. General and International Studies), London and New York, Routledge, pp. 131-150

Yeo, Andrew, Activists, Alliances and Anti-US Base Protests, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 240

Examines the impact of anti-base movements on politics, and the role of bilateral military alliances influencing results of protest. Findings drawn from interviews with activists, politicians and US base officials in the Philippines, Japan (Okinawa), Ecudaor, Italy and South Korea. See also: Yeo, Andrew , Anti-Base Movements in South Korea: Comparative Perspective on the Asia-Pacific The Asia Pacific Journal, 2010, pp. 39-73

Yeo, Andrew, Activists, Alliances and Anti-US Base Protests, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 240

Examines the impact of anti-base movements on politics, and the role of bilateral military alliances influencing results of protest. Findings drawn from interviews with activists, politicians and US base officials in the Philippines, Japan (Okinawa), Ecudaor, Italy and South Korea. See also: Yeo, Andrew , Anti-Base Movements in South Korea: Comparative Perspective on the Asia-Pacific The Asia Pacific Journal, 2010, pp. 39-73