What’s New! on WAN as of April 22, 2015

Continued Screenings of “What Are You Afraid of?”

A documentary film about the Japanese post-war feminism which was directed by MATSUI Hisako and supported by WAN, has been screened in various cities on different occasions since it was introduced at the Aichi International Women's Film Festival (AIWFF) in Nagoya on September 6, 2014.
A recent screening was held in Kyoto on April 9, which was followed by a talk between UENO Chizuko and NAKANISHI Toyoko. The upcoming screenings include the one to be held at the Gender Equal center of Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, from 10:00 am on April 25.

Visit the following site for the film information:
This year’s AIWFF 2015 is scheduled to be held in Naogya from September 1 to 6, 2015.

Active Report about “Nuclear and Earthquake Disasters and We” 

On Sunday, April 5, Mako & Ken, who belong to Yoshimoto Creative Agency as a stand-up comedian duo named Oshidori, appeared in a talk show in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.
Mako has been continuously attending the press conferences of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and disseminating the first-hand information on the internet, because she became suspicious about the news provided by the government or the mainstream media since 3.11 Fukushima nuclear accident.
At the press conferences, Mako, who had once majored in life science in the medical department of Tottori University, often asked questions which got to the point. Her remarks were so highly regarded overseas that she was invited to speak about what she learned after 3.11 by a German anti-nuke organization last year and by an international conference of the religion scholars this year.
On the 4.5 talk in Toyohashi, Mako & Ken kept talking for two hours about how the radio activity in the air and contamination of the water is far from under control, while showing relevant pictures.
Their talk was so informative that more people who can’t trust what is announced by the government and yet don’t know how to get access to the right information should go and listen to their talks.

Reported by TAKEMOTO Yurie

Summary Translated by FUKUOKA A. A.


New Release of the Voices from Japan

FEATURE: Hate Speech toward Women A Discussion from the View Point of


Special Report
Deliberately Incited Discrimination against Women:
Gender-discriminatory remarks of public officials
By Nobuko Kamenaga

Fighting Hate Speech around the Comfort Women Issue
By Ban Chongja

Japanese Government on Discrimination: Issues of Discrimination against
Korean Schools and Japanese Military “Comfort Women”
By Wooki Kim

Anti-Imperial System and Anti-Hate Speech 25
By Daiko Sakurai

So Much Hatred of Women:
The Link between the Homosocial Internet and Current Anti-Korean
By Rie Kaiwa

Posted by FUKUOKA A. A.


"This is how I avoided being killed by stoker" by Yoko Haruka

Based on my personal experience, I thought about the reason why stalking incidents never die and what we can do about it  

I wrote this book only for "preventing the worst."

That means " not to be killed."
In fact the entertainment industry is pearls of wisdom about fighting against stalker.

Watching the news of victims almost every month, I thought the time has come to make them publicly known and decided to get off my backsides.

I hope this will reach to someone with fear.

“This is how I avoided being killed by stoker”
Written by Yoko Haruka
(Chikuma Shobo, 2/5/2015)

Original article written by Yoko Haruka
Translated by T. Muramatsu

The Widening Gap between Increasing Criticism and Growing Ignorance (1)

Prime Minister Abe’s Unsuccessful Efforts to Whitewash Japanese Wartime Atrocities

For the past several weeks, I have had some English articles sent, forwarded, or referred to by my friends or via SNS.  
All of them were about atrocities the Japanese Imperial Army committed. I would like to review them to express my particular concerns about the widening gap between rising criticism about Japanese government’s attitude toward the comfort women issues  in the English media and growing ignorance of those global concerns in the Japanese media.

This situation was triggered by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comment at the budget committee meeting in the Diet on January 29, 2015. The Japan Times, the oldest English newspaper in Japan, immediately reported about his pledge to increase efforts to alter views abroad on Japan’s actions in World War II by disseminating the “correct” view.
The New York Times followed the very next day: “He (Abe) singled out a high school history textbook published by McGraw-Hill Education that he said contained the sort of negative portrayals that Japan must do more combat.” Quoting the Japan Times, the article illustrated how Abe “was shocked” and regrettable that “we did not protest the things we should have, or we failed to correct the things we should have.”

In fact, as Kyodo reported in November 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan requested the publisher to correct the depiction of “comfort women” in the book. More recent articles have revealed that McGraw-Hill rejected the Ministry’s request and defended its writers. For instance, according to the Bloomberg news on January 30, 2015 JST, the publisher replied to Bloomberg’s question in an e-mail, “Scholars are aligned behind the historical fact of ‘comfort women’ ” and “we unequivocally stand behind the writing, research and presentation of our authors,” as was quoted in other English media.

On February 9, 2015, the Japan Times referred to Abe’s comment again, in its article about U.S. based historians’ protest against his attempt to suppress statements in U.S. and Japanese history textbooks about the comfort women. It quoted their letter to the editor in the March edition of “Perspectives on History,” the American Historical Association’s journal:
…… the careful research in Japan, especially by (Chuo University professor) Yoshiaki Yoshimi, of Japanese government archives and the testimonials throughout Asia have rendered beyond dispute the essential features of a system that amounted to state-sponsored slavery.”

The group even warns that Abe and his allies are on a quest to eliminate references to the issue in textbooks. The fact is that in Japan the high school textbooks referred to the comfort women in 1995 mostly had such references eliminated by 2005. This kind of changes are likely to prevail in Japan as a result of active efforts of Abe and his allies to promote a peaceful image of post-war Japan by whitewashing the brutal history during the war.

As part of such efforts, Abe has been expanding his contacts with the mass media since his second inauguration in December, 2012. He spent more time on meeting with the leaders of the press and sent more people of his preferred choice to the influential posts in the related organizations and committees. One of the most notorious examples is the Chairman Katsuto Momii of NHK, Japan’s major public broadcaster. In his response to a question about the comfort women at his first press conference, Momii said that such an institution existed in “every country” and that it is only considered wrong by “today’s morality.”

“Everyone else was doing it,” or “it belongs to the past you cannot judge by today’s morality” is a typical way to evade responsibility for what was done and cannot be undone. “Let bygones be bygones” has been a widely accepted sentiment or even a virtue for the Japanese to maintain a harmony in an isolated society. We should realize that they are far from acceptable in the international community.

Rather than contributing to raising an awareness of or knowledge building for that matter, some Japanese and South Korean media have been provoking nationalistic fervor against each other. On both sides of the national boarders, more and more hatred have been voiced, making decent people sick of the fanatical and negative acceleration.

As a positive result, however, alternative media are highly motivated now to reach out to those people, providing them new perspectives while conservatives are reproducing typical denying narratives. The Japan Times’ article of March 4, 2015 showed a reflection of one of those new and valuable perspectives yet to be a mainstream in Japan. The article written by a freelance journalist KIMURA Kayoko raises a question, “Why do so few people in Japan make the link between the wider issue of sexual violence in conflict and the comfort women?” One explanation she provided was that the issue was depicted as a purely diplomatic matter between Japan and South Korea.

As she reiterated, it was when three Korean women filed a suit in Japan in December 1991 when the comfort women issue became public. They, not only charged the Japanese government with the wartime crime, but also channeled the shame they experienced for a half a century into a fundamental human rights. In the 1990s, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda recognized rape and other forms of sexual violence as breaches of international law. And in the 2000s, “preventing sexual violence in conflict became a global human-rights and security concern.”

Prime Minister Abe stressed in his policy speech to the 189th Session of the Diet in February, 2015: “we will work to ensure that the 21st century is one in which there will be no human rights violations against women.” But those nice words, as well as “a world in which all women shine,” or “Japan will never give in to terrorism,” merely sound evasive and meaningless if he never listens to the specific women who have been appealing to the Japanese government or if his government has no effective means for dialogue with other countries concerned. In this regard, he represents the Japanese majority who neglect to make the link between the wider issue of sexual violence in conflict and the comfort women.

In contrast, it is the most significant that the former comfort women and their supporters have been developing global and contemporary perspectives. In part two of this essay, I would like to illustrate how they are linked with the women currently suffering violence in conflict and how these significant perspectives are lost in the comfort women discourse in Japan, taking examples of the misleading descriptions of the Asahi and the Sankei, Japanese newspapers representing the liberal and the conservative respectively.   

Written by FUKUOKA A. A.


March 22 National Rally Voiced “No!” to Abe Administration

About 14,000 people gathered in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, on Sunday March 22, and marched around the National Diet Building and the prime minister 's official residence.

They demonstrated against Shinzo Abe's major policies over rights to collective self-defense, nuclear reactors restart, new U.S. military base in Henoko, Okinawa, and Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrecy and so on as was indicated by a variety of boards they held.

The rally was organized by the Metropolitan Coalition against Nukes and participated by a variety of people both young and old. The speakers on the stage included a 16-year-old high school girl, who believes in Japan’s pacifist constitution and a 20-year-old college student, who is an active member of Students Urgent Action for Freedom and Democracy.

On the same day, Abe attended a graduate ceremony in a defense university in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture to express the government’s resolution to promote the right to collective defense.
He has been accelerating his moves to legally dispatch Japan’s Self Defense Forces (SDF) overseas. His coalition government has just reached a formal agreement on the outline of security legislation that would expand the scope of overseas operations by the SDF troops, marking another step toward the most drastic changes to Japan's postwar security stance.

The demonstrations in Hibiya and other parts of Tokyo represented people’s earnest concerns about such right-leaning politics of Abe. He was quoted as saying "the absurd remarks are irresponsible and instigating anxiety," but it is his hawkish maneuver and unjust reinterpretation of the constitution that make an increasing number of people anxious about their future. The irresponsible prime minister apparently fail to pay due respect to his own country’s supreme law.

Written by FUKUOKA A.A.


Foreword for Chinese Edition of “Woman-Haters: Misogyny in Japan”

Chizuko’s Blog No.82

February 9th, 2015

A Chinese translation (in the simplified Chinese characters) of my book “Woman-Haters” has been published. I have learned the Chinese title is 『厭女症』(Woman-Hater Syndrome). The following is what I wrote as the foreword for this Chinese edition. Also a Korean translation is now under way.

“Woman-Haters: Misogyny in Japan”
Written by Chizuko Ueno
(Kinokuniya Shoten, 6/10/2010)


I’m happy to find that they have decided to translate my book “Woman-Haters.” The subtitle of the book is “Misogyny in Japan,” and I believe we can apply this idea to many different societies --- “Misogyny in China,” “Misogyny in Korea,” or “Misogyny in Vietnam,” for example. In the first place, in writing this book, I was inspired by “Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire,” a work by Eve Sedgwick, an American scholar in gender studies and English literature. So, obviously, we could also have “Misogyny in Britain” and “Misogyny in America.” Unfortunately, it is difficult to imagine a society without misogyny.

This book consists of a theory and its practice. The triad of homosociality, homophobia and misogyny --- a theoretical apparatus which Sedgwick provided us --- is very useful. Thanks to this theory, we can understand how different homosociality and homosexuality are and why homosexual males tend to be “feminized.” And above all, we learned from her theory that masculinity is defined as “not being (like) a woman,” which means putting women outside of men.

Because this theoretical apparatus is so sharp-cutting you are tempted to cut what you have using it. Like “Oh, yes, that group is homosocial,” or “Now I understand that womanizer is in fact a woman-hater.” And as in Japan today, so also in China, you will find there are so many situations you can easily explain with this theoretical apparatus. That is a shame, since it reflects the fact that men are not willing to change at all.

“Women support half of heaven,” was a wonderful phrase that we learned from socialist China. However, what we have heard after their “Reform and Liberation” are only stories no better than those in capitalist countries, including companies’ preference for men and a job shortage for women. I was astounded when I learned of a phenomenon called 婦女回家 (women returning home) in China. While Japanese women want to escape from being housewives, do Chinese women really want to do the opposite and go back home and become full-time housewives? The change of society is full of contradictions. Apparently, the difficulties women are suffering from in their lives are the same in all countries and under all political systems. China has its own misogyny.

As you know, the Japanese language has developed as a kind of creole by importing foreign languages like Chinese and English. You can see that in the mixture of hiragana (original Japanese phonetic characters), kanji (adopted Chinese characters), and katakana (phonetic characters used in describing loanwords from foreign languages) in written Japanese. Thus, the Japanese language has historically imported foreign ideas quite freely. But at the same time, it has failed to translate those ideas to Japanese. In Japan, the word “feminism” or “misogyny” has been accepted as a katakana loanword as it is. Meanwhile, in China, “feminism” is called 女性主義 (women-ism) and women’s center” is called 女性中心 (women-center), which impressed me. Also, I was deeply impressed to learn that this book of mine would be translated as 『厭女症』 (“Woman-Hater Syndrome”). If it is a “syndrome,” it should be a distinct medical disorder. Then, how differently would “homosocial” and “homosexual” be translated? I’m all curiosity.

This disorder of woman-hater syndrome affects not only men but also women. An advantage of the idea of misogyny is that it can explain the dark side of women too. As I explained in the book, women's misogyny is much more troublesome than men's, because it can turn to self-hatred. If we realize this, we may solve many problems including why women could be easily divided and have conflicts over men, why there is a saying “Women’s enemies are other women,” or why mother-daughter relationships often tend to be awkward. Well, curing the disorder would not be so easy, but to realize the fact can at least be the first step.

Feminism in Japan has been influenced by many foreign countries. This book also has been influenced by Sedgwick, an American scholar in queer theory, as I stated above. And some people say that Japanese feminism is no more than an import from abroad. But I would like to counter this argument with a quote from Gayatri Spivak, a well-known scholar in post-colonial studies, who was born in India, studies English literature, has permanent U.S. residency, and teaches at Columbia University in New York. When she visited Japan to attend a symposium on gender theory, a Western scholar asked her if “gender” was not an idea which did not originally exist in Japan. Then she replied, “No matter where an idea was generated, if it is useful, you should use it.”

When a theory is applied to practice, it is customized according to the places,  subjects and contexts it deals with. For readers of the book, it would be hard not to apply the theory to their own societies, to try to solve the problems they have. As I discussed misogyny in Japan, I expect some Chinese readers will probably discuss misogyny in China in the near future. I hope I can read their books in Japanese translation. And what if there are any phenomena this theory cannot explain? I should welcome them as a sign that society is getting away from misogyny.

Original article written by Chizuko Ueno
Translated by A. Tawara

A Movie in My Memory All About My Mother directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Review by Siria

Fascinated by a Woman’s Strong Way of Living

Woman is strong.

That was my first impression of this movie. Woman is strong.
The heroine, Manuela, is a single mother who lost her son Esteban in a car accident. He died on his birthday of all others.

She has grieved his death for days until she makes up her mind.

She decides to go to Barcelona to find Esteban’s father.

It’ difficult to make an important decision when you have lost someone you loved. I think only women can do that.

When it comes to romantic relationship, men in general find it harder to forget their love than women. Some are obsessed with the memories in the old days, and their friends get fed up with that.

Manuela has been living with her son peacefully for 18 years since she divorced her husband. But this peace is broken by the great sadness of losing her son. I have never married nor had any child of my own, so her pain is beyond my imagination. In the middle of her grief, she leaves Madrid to look for Esteban’s “father”. And, she does this all by herself. The scene where she leaves for Barcelona reminds me of the innate strength that a woman has inside her.
In Volver, another movie directed by Almodóvar, the “male sex” was excluded from the plot naturally. In All About My Mother, on the other hand, male only exist as the symbol of the “sex”. There are some male characters who underwent a sex-change operation (therefore regarded as female). They had breast implant surgery, but never have their penis removed. In this sense, they are male AND female at the same time. Although they serve as the symbol of male sex, they are never excluded from the plot because the half part of them is female.

Esteban’s father, Lola is also a woman with a penis. She married with Manuela, had breast implant, and now she leads a life almost same as a prostitute’s. In Barcelona, Manuela meets a nun called Sister Rosa and finds that the sister is also pregnant by Lola. Rosa is HIV positive; she dies soon after giving birth to her son. As promised Rosa, Manuela takes care of the newborn baby. Gradually, she gets past her grief of losing her own son, if not completely, and takes her life back.

Despite the title All About My Mother, Manuela’s son dies in the beginning of the story although he was the one who wanted to know all about his mother and farther. It’s intriguing that the story develops from his mother’s view while the movie is titled from the son’s view. Actually, no characters in the story can find out all about Manuela’s life; only the audience can. When you are in despair, you will be fascinated by the lives of Manuela and other strong women in this movie.

About the author: Siria was born in Brussels, Belgium. She is half-Japanese and half-English, and grew up in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. In her early days, she studied in the School of International Liberal Studies of Waseda University, believing that she should establish an international career because of her international background. But she felt uncomfortable among many other cosmopolitans and dropped out. After working as an editor and designer of cellphone websites, now she works for a company. She enjoys her free life in her own way tweeting about various topics.
Twitter @Les_Niniches

(Translated by N. Tajima)