Speech by Mana Shibata, SEALDs

Speech by Mana Shibata 
SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy)
Tokyo, Friday, July 24, 2015

Good evening. I am Mana Shibata, a college junior.
I am here to read a letter I wrote to Mr. Shinzo Abe.

Dear Mr. Abe, I am filled with deep rage and despair toward you.
Your forced passage of the security legislation at the Special Committee in the Lower House could be called a coup d’etat. In Okinawa, you have set residents against each other and proceeded with the construction of a new base. In Kagoshima, you are preparing to restart the Sennai nuclear plant without sufficiently explaining your safety policy.

In northeast Japan, there are still many people who have been living in temporary shelters for more than four years. Can you really call this “our beautiful nation Japan”?

America builds bases all over the world “for freedom and democracy,” occupies conflict regions, threatens the lives of civilians, and ever since 9/11 has been repeatedly murdering people indiscriminately in its “war on terror.”

When Kenji Goto was killed, I remember how frightened I became, wondering whether Japan would start a war on terror like America.
But Japan did not take that path then, and it must not take it now.

As a nation who has suffered atomic bombing, as a nation which does not have a military force, as a nation which has Article 9 in its Constitution, we have the responsibility to think seriously about peace and continue peacebuilding. With the Constitution of Japan, we pledged that we would not repeat the experience of 70 years ago.

I do not need a future that depends on military force. A peace based on killing, I do not call peace. Someday I hope to give birth to my own children and raise them. But I do not have the confidence to raise children in our current society.

Mr. Abe, can you wipe away my fears? Can you call this a society where parents can feel secure raising their children? Can you promise the children of Fukushima a safe and healthy future? Can you return an island without bases to the grandfathers and grandmothers of Okinawa?

I am standing here now raising my voice because I want Japan to be a country that seeks peace and promotes it throughout the world when my children are born. I want to make this a society where we think about the future, cherish life, learn from previous generations. A society where it is common sense to value such common sense.

To me, peace is little pieces of happiness like returning after school to a home where my mother is waiting for me with dinner ready; seeing a baby in a stroller laugh, opening its mouth so wide I can see it still doesn’t have any teeth; calling my grandmother to say thank you for sending me money for my education; listening to music on the train that someone special told me about. That’s the kind of daily life I want to protect.

The current government, unable to protect the Constitution, says there is no other way, and tries to affirm the Abe administration. How can the government of such a country, which so casually violates its own Constitution, be a peacemaker in international society?

I truly cannot understand how people can behave so childishly in Diet sessions; compare war to a neighborhood fire; bury beautiful Oura Bay. I do not feel the tiniest bit of intelligence or compassion in a single one of your words or actions. I only feel that you are insulting me as a citizen of this country.

Mr. Abe, I can no longer leave the government of our country up to you. I want a democratic and peaceful tomorrow where every individual is valued. I don’t want to create such a tomorrow with you. I don’t think I can.

The view I see before me here gives me hope. I wish you would stand here and see it. The faces of the people who are taking action because they seriously care about this country’s future are full of strength and hope, surely tens of times more than the faces you see every day in Nagatacho.

Neither democracy nor the future of this nation are in your hands. They are to be won by those of us here.
July 24, 2015. I call on you to dissolve the Abe administration.

Original speech video is available in Japanese:
and translated by Gerry Yokota, collaborator.

Posted by Shin Yamaaki


Japanese Youths Crying out for Democracy and Peace: SEALDs

Cries of fury are reverberating in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo, as protesters demonstrate against Prime Minister Abe's security bills that would allow the Japanese self-defense force to fight overseas for the first time since WWII. Leading the protest every Friday evening is a youth group called Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), whose presence has drawn much attention from the media:

"Students protest planned security legislation in front of Diet," Asahi Shimbun.

"Youth Rising Against the Security Bills," Pressenza.

“Campaign group SEALDs hooking Japan’s youth with jazzy placards, fliers,” Japan Times

Image from SEALDs' website
Here are a few examples of how some of the young, hip protesters are expressing themselves at demonstrations. 

Beniko, a twenty-four-year-old shop clerk and a member of SEALDs, spoke to 1,000 protesters on June 12, 2015:

“Last year, I never thought I would take part in such demonstrations; nor had I ever imagined myself making a public speech like this. Along the way, I’ve had bitter experiences; some of my friends left me. Some people said I had changed, and some thought I was annoying. But I have always been like this, speaking out when I feel something is wrong. Sounding off when it doesn’t feel right. That should be a standard way of engaging in the politics. 

“Today, before I came here, I bought a bikini and I’m still contemplating when to put on my new fake lashes for summer. It should be normal that people like me, fussing over swimsuits and makeup, stand up and be counted in the politics. That should be regarded as a standard. Till the day comes, I will continue to stand up and make myself heard.” 

On July 15, 2015 in Osaka, Tomoka made a speech at the SEALDs KANSAI demonstration that touched many across the nation:

“I cannot bring back the lives that are lost in battles. I cannot rebuild the cities that are destroyed by air raids. I cannot take responsibility for the future of the children who are injured by the arms produced by Japanese companies. I cannot heal even a slightest bit of the sorrow caused by the loss of families. I cannot gloss over what I cannot account for, like Prime Minister Abe does when he uses terms such as "absolutely" and "I promise." Mr. Abe, our Constitution prohibits the use of arms and does not allow your dictatorship. If you continue to neglect the principles of the people’s sovereignty, a fundamental human right, and pacifism, you are no longer our prime minister.

“As long as our democracy exists, we have the right to drag you down from the seat of authority. We have the power. You will resign this summer, and next year, for the seventy-first time, we will celebrate another year of peace.”  

The following week in Tokyo, Mana Shibata, a college junior, echoed her voice in front of 70,000 protesters:

“Prime Minister Abe, can you possibly erase my worries? Can you provide a future free from health concerns for children in Fukushima? Can you give back base-free lands to grandmas and grandpas in Okinawa? Can you possibly turn this country into a place where people hope to bring up their children? We can no longer trust our future in you.

“As I speak, the view from here makes me full of hope. Mr. Abe, come and join me. The faces lining up here are much more determined and hopeful than those that you are used to seeing.”

Photos and videos of demonstrations are available at: https://twitter.com/SEALDs_jpn (in Japanese) and https://twitter.com/sealds_eng (in English).

Text by Aya Kitamura


Show Your Opposition to Abe’s Politics on July 18

Dozens of famous intellectuals and cultural figures in Japan, including WAN’s director Chizuno Ueko, are asking people to demonstrate opposition to the current prime minister Abe’s politics by way of holding a sign with the slogan “We Refuse Abe’s Politics.” (アベ政治を許さない)

People are encouraged to download the file from http://wan.or.jp/emergency/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sho_f.pdf. On it, the slogan is written in powerful and impressive Japanese calligraphy by one of the movement promoters Tota Kaneko, a famous haiku poet. Print it out on a A3 size piece of paper, and hold it at 1 p.m. on July 18 Japan time.

Also see the article below.

By Naoko Hirose


Call for Support: Sign the Appeal against the Security-Related Bills

Women's Action Network invites you to join hands with the Association of Scholars Opposed to the Security-Related Bills. The initial signatories include Chizuko Ueno and Yayo Okano of WAN, and many others have since participated in the appeal. Both scholars and non-scholars are welcome.

Visit here to learn more about the Association, see the growing number of signatories, and join in!

See also a feature article ("Japanese Scholars Say No to War" by C. M. Rubin) on Huffington Post.

Posted by Aya Kitamura


The Legacy of Frida --- Film Review by Natsuko NAKAMURA

The legacy of Frida Kahlo was uncovered 50 years after her death.
The Japanese photographer, Miyako ISHIUCHI captures the real life of Frida Kahlo as a woman.

This film depicts “the record” and “the memories” of the two women and how their lives have crossed.

Frida Kahlo is one of the most famous female painters in Mexico. She was highly recognized as a surrealism artist in Europe as well.  She lived her life positively despite her physical disability and the turbulence of the modernization of Mexico.  Her way of life resonates with many people from all over the world.

In 2004, 50 years after her death, the legacy of Frida was uncovered.  In 2012, a project to take pictures of her belongings was launched by a Mexican curator, and Miyako Ishiuchi, a world-famous Japanese photographer, was chosen to take the photos. When Ishiuchi visited the Frida Kahlo Museum called "the Blue House" in Mexico City, she saw each of the enormous items arranged in front of her, such as Frida's Mexican traditional costumes and accessories in which her identity originated, and her medicines and corsets which evoked her ceaseless physical pain. They seemed not only to be the evidence that Frida lived with various kinds of "pain" as well as the joy and pride, but also to represent her memories. As a painter, Frida Kahlo depicted what life was all about through her life. How did Ishiuchi face the legacy of Frida and what did she capture in her photographs?

This film shows the whole process of Ishiuchi’s shooting for over three weeks. It describes, in a careful manner, how the photographer faced the legacy and discovered the real life of Frida with her photographs freeing her from her conventional image.

The film is directed by Daisuke Kotani, a Japanese director who are highly acclaimed both domestically and internationally with his documentary film, The Cat That Lived a Million Times. By filming Ishiuchi's shooting process, he also captured the Mexican culture, the tradition passed down from generations to generations, and women living in the present time.

This is the documentary about “the record” and “the memories”. The tokens of Frida’s life and the photographs that captured them travel beyond space and time.

In this film, you can discover the new image of Frida Kahlo that no one has ever imagined.

The official website of the film is here.


Distributed by Nondelaico
Cinematography: Tadasuke KOTANI 
Starring: Miyako ISHIUCHI
2015/Japan/89 min/Japanese, Spanish, English, French
In cooperation with: Embassy of the United Mexican States
Production: Nondelaico
Cooperation in Advertisement: Tereza and Sunny

The original article written by Natsuko NAKAMURA
Translated by N. Tajima


A Critical Moment: Sex/Gender Research at the Intersection of Culture, Brain, & Behavior
October 23-24, 2015  - Early Registration Ending June 30
UCLA, Los Angeles, California

Confirmed Keynote Speaker is Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, Nancy Duke Lewis Professor Emerita of Biology and Gender Studies, Brown University, and author of the pioneering books, Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social World (2012) and Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (2000). 

Some of Our Many Talks:
The Maternal Mystique: Constructing the Biosocial Body at the Maternal-Fetal Interface (Sarah Richardson)
Recent Discoveries and Opportunities for Improved Understanding of Sex-Biasing Biological Factors (Art Arnold)
A Life History Theory Perspective on Neural, Hormonal, and Genetic Correlates of Variation in Human Paternal Behavior (James Rilling)
Social Neuroendocrinology and Gender/Sex: Asking Hormonal Questions with Social Construction and Evolution in their Answers (Sari van Anders)
Where Does Sexual Orientation Reside? (Lisa Diamond)
Early Androgen Exposure and Human Gender Development: Outcomes and Mechanisms (Melissa Hines)
Naturalizing Male Violence and Sexuality (Matthew Gutmann)

Panel discussions and question/answer sessions with the audience throughout this 2-day event. Don’t Miss Out.
Discover the latest findings on sex/gender, from an interdisciplinary perspective. All at UCLA this October 23-24, 2015.

REGISTER NOW. Our last two conferences sold out before the end of Early registration.
EARLY REGISTRATION (lower cost)  ENDS  June 30, 2015


Chizuko Ueno’s Blog No. 86: Fukui District Court gives provisional disposition banning restart of nuclear power plant

Some happy news, which we haven’t had in a long time. Fukui District Court has given a provisional disposition banning the restart of the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant. Fellow WAN members and Suruga-shi City Councillor Harumi Kondaichi broke into smiles on news footage. The representative and deputy representative for the plaintiffs were both women. Attorneys Hiroyuki Kawai and Yuichi Kaido were seen among members of the defense. I actually participated as a plaintiff, but since I was not residing within a 100-kilometre radius of the power plant, I was seen as not at risk of suffering harm and determined ineligible as a plaintiff. As a result, nine members remained on the plaintiffs’ side.

The ruling was made by Justice Hideaki Higuchi, the same judge who acknowledged the request to block the restart of the Oi Nuclear Power Plant. This ruling was a bolder step up from the previous one. He most likely studied intensively on nuclear reactors during this time. This will likely be a ruling that will go down in history.

I feel that judges must feel isolated. They probably cannot debate over topics with colleagues or persons related to the field, or ask them for advice. If they did, they would likely be immediately subjected to influences and pressure from all sides. As a judge, he would probably be wary of the situation in the judicial sector as well. Mr. Hideaki Higuchi has apparently just been transferred to Nagoya Family Court starting this April.  Prior to that, a petition to challenge the judge, made by Kansai Electric, was rejected. Mr. Higuchi’s simultaneous post at Fukui Regional Court had been acknowledged despite his transfer. If the petition to challenge had gotten through, or if he had been taken off the case as a result of his transfer… it would have been adequate reason to be suspicious of political pressure coming from somewhere. At the ruling to stop the restart of the Oi Nuclear Power Plant, Mr. Higuchi said, “The safety of human lives cannot be measured on the same scale as business profits”. Again, when making the provisional disposition to stop the restart of the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant, Mr. Higuchi clearly declared that “the standards of the Nuclear Regulation Authority are not reasonable.” Justice Higuchi, your name will be marked in history.

The head of the committee, Tanaka, has himself acknowledged that the new standards set out by the Nuclear Regulation Authority are not absolutely safe – that a reactor cannot be declared safe just because it has met the standard. The Nuclear Regulation Authority may be the one to decide if a reactor meets the standard or not, but politics is what decides whether or not the reactor will be restarted based on those results. And we voters are the ones who decide whether or not to accept that decision.

Here is an example of the standards of the Nuclear Regulation Authority being “not reasonable”, as pointed out by the judge: the standards stipulate that an earthquake-proof building should be constructed in preparation for disasters; however – perhaps in consideration of the wallets of electric power companies – there is a grace period for the construction. (I didn’t know that! This must be why these standards are said to be “lenient.”) The Nuclear Regulation Authority sets standards in place, but still gives approval ratings even if reactors do not meet those standards. As Justice Higuchi said, “Nature does not wait for the grace period to pass,” and that is the truth.

I am sure there are many people involved in the judicial sector who are deeply disappointed that the courts were accomplices in the policy to promote nuclear power. The involvement of the courts is also pointed out in Joachim Radkau’s “A Short History of the Anti-Nuclear Movement in Germany”.

“The persistence and success of Germany’s anti-nuclear movement can be explained not only by the internal structure of the protest demonstrations, but also by interactions between citizens’ protests, the media, politics, government administration, the courts, and science.” (Joachim Radkau, “A Short History of the Anti-Nuclear Movement in Germany.” Misuzu Shobo, 2012.)

He claims that what Germany has and Japan doesn’t is this interaction between the various actors.

Eiji Oguma’s book, “Those Who Stop the Nuclear Plants” (Bungeishunju, 2013) points out the following: “In Japan, ‘going nuclear-power-free’ has already been realized.” Not only that – “Japan has done what no other movement in the world has been able to do before, which was to dominate the government district over a long-term period through the use of non-violent direct action. As a result, the people changed the energy policy of the party in power [at the time].

“The people are still too unaccustomed to their own accomplishment to acknowledge this miracle as a miracle. They do not yet realize the depth of possibility hidden within it.”

Indeed, all fifty-four reactors currently in Japan have been stopped, and the reason why it is taking so long to restart the reactors is because the citizens, using all manner of methods, including judicial means, are putting a “hold” on the process, and the administration cannot ignore this.

Lately I feel that the courts are more sensitive to changes of the times than the legislature and administration. If this is one of the results of judicial reform, then I welcome it. The legislature has finally begun to take action regarding discrimination against extramarital children following a ruling that it was unconstitutional. It would probably turn out the same way for the lawsuit for married couples to have different surnames. The judicature is more closely aligned with the perceptions of the citizens in terms of going nuclear-power-free. Until now, the judicature has always been thought of as the “hound” of the government. It seems as if the time has come for the judicature to emphasize its independence.

Original article in Japanese

Translated by Rieko Shimizu and adapted by Naoko Hirose