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F.5.b.iv.3 Japan

New Approaches: #MeToo in Japan and the UK, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, 26/06/2018,

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

Dalton, Emma, Sexual harassment of women politicians in Japan, Journal of Gender-Based Violence, Vol. 1, issue 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, 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.

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, issue 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.

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 

Litz, Alex, Calling Myself a Feminist in Japan, Uprizine, 11/04/2019,

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, 18/12/2019,

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, 22/06/2019,

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.

O’Mochain, Robert, Sexual Harassment: A Critical Issue for EFL in Japan, The Language Teacher, Vol. 43, issue 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.

Siripala, Thisanka, Slow to start, Japan is finally having a #MeToo moment, PRI, 30/04/2018,

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.

Vittinghoff, Anna, A brief introduction to Japanese feminism, Post graduate Gender Research Network of Scotland, 11/04/2018,

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