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!

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


"Anshin (security) pouch" for disaster-preventing produced by women's group "Ami∞Amu"

Recommended by Chizuko Ueno

"Ami∞Amu", a woman's group at Setagaya-ku that tries to create "local disaster-preventing network" has produced "Anshin (security) pouch."

Scissor, portable flashlight, garbage bag, safety pin...14 items in total are included.
It is hard to prepare each of those items by yourself!
The pouch is designed by a woman's group "nui nui" that embraces women's handmade work. 
It is lightweight, compact and easy to carry around. For yourself and for someone as a gift!
Wishing you an Anshin (security)!
By Chizuko Ueno

inside; "Anshin pouch"


compact and space-saving

◆Included items◆ 
The wisdom of disaster-preventing is packed in this compact pouch.
Not just for the time of disaster, it is also useful for everyday life.
14 items as follows are included;
whistle, mini flashlight, scissor, big plastic bag, safety pin.
pill's bag, adhesive bandages, wet tissue, candies, memo pad,
permanent marker, bag for change, urine removal pad, information card

Retail price; 2200yen
Items only; 600yen
Pouch only; 1600yen 
various designs of "Anshin pouch"

For more information, please make a contact with "Ami∞Amu" as listed below.

◆Woman's group "Ami∞Amu"◆
"Ami∞Amu" is a group that aims at dealing with local disaster prevention based on respect for human rights, and established by a group pf woman living at Setagaya-ku.
In 2012, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, during the process of making a proposal to Setagaya-ku for disaster contingency planning, they tried find a way to do something direct to local disaster prevention.
Since 2013, "Ami∞Amu" has been doing various activities as study meeting, workshop which produced the "Anshin pouchi", research the status of children commuted by train on the day of the Earthquake.
From now on "Ami∞Amu" will organize "disaster prevention cafe" on a regular basis and continue to seek a way of disaster prevention cares the human rights from a various aspects with local community.

Number of members; 8 
HP http://amiamuamiamu.blog.FC2.com 
Email; amiamu_amiamu@yahoo.co.jp 
Mobile; 080-5086-6141(Sunada)

Original article written by Chizuko Ueno
Translated by T. Muramatsu 

The Widening Gap between Increasing Criticism and Growing Ignorance (2)

Absurdity in the Sankei’s Campaign and the Asahi-Bashing

Urgent Symposium for the Final Solution of the Comfort Women Issue Held in Tokyo

On April 23, 2015, the South Korean and Japanese organizations who have been working to resolve the comfort women issue jointly held an “urgent” symposium and press conference at the House of Councillors assembly hall in Tokyo, in order to reiterate a new proposal before Prime Minister ABE Shintaro visited America.

In her speech at the symposium, Kim Bok-dong (90 years old), a former comfort woman, asked Abe to “change his mind and acknowledge the past mistakes” as it is “the only way for South Korea and Japan to live together in harmony.”

Based on a great many materials discovered after the 1993 Statement, which will be described later, the two groups had proposed that the Japanese government should admit the imperial army’s involvement in building, administering and controlling the rape centers, euphemistically called “the comfort stations,” as military facilities. On the basis of these admissions, the government was urged to make an irreversible apology, to compensate the former comfort women to prove the sincerity of the apology. 

This new proposal was submitted to the government in June, 2014, but Abe administration has not taken note of it.

The representatives of the two groups, Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan and Japan Action for Resolution of the “Comfort Women” Issue, also stressed at the symposium that the new and modest proposal would be achievable as it incorporated the wishes of the former comfort women themselves. On the other hand, the proposal replaced the term “legal responsibility” - a term that the Japanese government had rejected - with the concrete measures that Japan would have to take.
Now the ball is in the hands of Abe, who is visiting the United States.

Most of the Japanese TV news feature his speech at the joint session of US Congress as he was apparently welcome by the American political and military leaders as a reliable and obedient partner. But it should not be neglected that his emotive speech expressed sympathy or regret in general but, as one of the English media described, it  “gave little sense that any part of Japan’s wartime history required a special reckoning” and “offered no direct apology” when his “conservative nationalism causes unease in northeast Asia and occasionally in Washington.”

Kono Statement in 1993 and its Bashing in 2014

In the first part of this essay (posted on March 31) , I mentioned about Prime Minister ABE Shinzo’s various approaches to control the mass media under his “departure from the post-war regime” policy. In the second part, I would like to focus on the Sankei and the Asahi in terms of the reviews and verifications about the comfort women issue and their consequences .

As Prime Minister Abe intended to “verify” the Kono Statement, which was announced by the former Chief Cabinet Secretary KONO Yohei in 1993, the statement has been harshly criticized by the conservative medeia as well as online based right-wingers since it admitted the Japanese military’s involvement in operating the military brothels during the war time and expressed apologies to the former comfort women. 
In the wake of such Kono-bashing, the Sankei staged its own campaign by launching the two series of articles, “History War 1: the Crime of the Kono Statement” (April 1-5, 2014) and “History War 2: the Beginning of the Comfort Women Issue” (May 20-25, 2014).

Before reviewing the articles in question, let me list up the events after a South Korean professor YOON Jung-ok initiated her research on, and interview of, the former comfort women around 1990:

In August, 1991, Ms. KIM Hak-sun came out to tell her experience as a comfort woman by using her real name;
In January, 1992, Professor YOSHIMI Yoshiaki of Chuo University discovered a relevant document that suggested the Japanese military’s involvement in the comfort women system in the library of the National Institute for Defense Studies;
Before Yoshimi’s finding was exposed by the Asahi, the Japanese government had conducted its research and announced its report in July, 1992, acknowledging the Japanese military’s involvement;
On August 10 and 11, 1992, the first Asian Solidarity Conference was held in Seoul Korea;
In August, 1993, the Kono Statement was released.

Serious Errors in the Sankei’s Campaign against the Kono Statement

On May 25, 2014, in the last articles of the above-mentioned comfort women series, the Sankei went too far in its attempt to create a story about the first Asian Solidarity Conference, a predecessor of the present Asian Solidarity Conference for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. Judging from the headlines, the readers would be led to believe that during this particular conference held in Seoul in 1992, the former comfort women were directed by some Japanese instigators to single out Japan as the responsible for their sufferings, thus paving the way to the Kono Statement. 

The article quoted Ms.TACHI Masako (87 years old) as a direct participant of the 1992 conference as follows: the former comfort women dressed in chima jeogori, a traditional Korean costume, were instructed beforehand by some Japanese participants to parrot the suggested phrases during the conference. Allegedly, Thai and Taiwanese women were even told to be quiet as they spoke stories sympathetic to Japan. Ms. Tachi was also quoted to say “The conference was the starting point for spreading a bad reputation of Japan.”

And yet, the photograph which appeared on the newspaper to endorse her arguments turned out to be wrong. The error was  obvious as the letters on the photo showed that it was taken at a different meeting of the surviving families of the Pacific War victims in South Korea. It was not difficult at all to find the right picture of the first Asian Solidarity Conference which clearly showed all the women plainly dressed in Western summer wear as well as a big banner on which there was the title, venue and period of the conference.

It was clear that the story the Sankei attempted to frame was totally failed. Two of the relevant groups, the executive committee of the 12th Asian Solidarity Conference and Japan Action for Resolution of the “Comfort Women” Issue, sent a written request to the Sankei on August 6, 2014 to urge it to correct the five errors in the articles of May 25 .

As of September 19, the Sankei responded by notifying two corrections in a small frame on the paper failing to deliver any apologies. And in its reply to the correction request dated September 18, the Sankei explained that it recognized Ms. Tachi’s arguments as facts since they were based on her own experiences.

If so, such rule should be adapted to the narratives of the former comfort women. It is widely acknowledged that the stigmatized experience is hard to be narrated and what is spoken out in spite of all the difficulties and pressures has a very good reason to be believed in its mainstay.

In contrast, the Sankei’s blunder was assumingly caused by its ill-advised attempt to take advantage of an individual’s memory and her subjective meaning she attached to it for the purpose of a political “verification,” rather than for understanding her experience in its individuality.

Nonetheless, the misleading story was in turn consumed and reproduced by those who took advantages by doing that. The individual experience regarded by the Sankei as facts was also quoted by a magazine called Weekly Shincho of July 3, 2014, for framing another story to name FUKUSHIMA Mizuho, the former leader of the Social Democratic Party, as an instigator.

Asahi’s Verification and Its Significance

It took some 3 months until the two groups prepared the correction request. They instantly noticed the errors, but as they were extremely busy before and after the 12th Asian Solidarity Conference, they were unable to send the request to the Sankei before August 6.

Incidentally, on August 5 and 6, 2014, the Asahi spared the special section to verify how the comfort women issue was taken  and developed. They included the Asahi’s responses to a number of questions that would be asked by its readers as well as the Japanese leading paper’s stance toward the controversial issue.

The Asahi was repeatedly criticized since the Prime Minister Abe stated in the end of November, 
2012, that because of the Asahi’s misinformation, a fraudulent man named YOSHIDA Seiji wrote a book and it was distributed  throughout Japan, becoming a big issue as if it were a true story. And while the Abe administration “verified” the production process of the 1993 Kono statement and issued a report in June, 2014, the Asahi was groundlessly blamed by not a few commentators and online right-wingers for inventing the comfort women issue. 
Personal attacks to its staff writer Mr.UEMURA Takashi, who happened to report about Ms. KIM Hak-sun for the first time in Japan, escalated to a terroristic level.

A single most justifiable reason, if there is any, for the Asahi to become a target of the revisionists seems to be its unchanged commitment to historical issues as was found in the following statements in the article: “The point in question is that the women were deprived of freedom and had their dignity violated in comfort stations which could never be established without the military’s involvement,” and “the Asahi has been reporting about the comfort women issue and our awareness of the issue still remain unchanged.”

Cool-headed readers of the feature pages would find just few problems that are serious enough to be attacked or blamed. The Asahi re-examined their news gathering and belatedly withdrew some incorrect writings concerning Mr. Yoshida’s story. But as a matter of fact the story had been discredited long before as a result of both academic and nonacademic researches. Neither his testimony nor the Asahi’s reports of it made the comfort women issue unfavorable to Japan, causing bilateral or international problems.

In a symposium held on April 5, 2015, to consider the comfort women issue as well as the Japanese society and media through the Asahi issue, Professor HAYASHI Kaori of the University of Tokyo reported the result of the contents analysis of the overseas media.  She conducted it as the only female member of the Asahi Third-party Panel. According to her findings, “comfort women” were most frequently referred to in relation with the Prime Minister Abe’s own comments, not with the Yoshida testimony or the Asahi’s report. Abe has turned out to be the one who keeps attracting the overseas media in a negative way, adversely affecting his government’s efforts.

Written by FUKUOKA A. A.