Monday, June 23, 2014

Sexual abuse in Tokyo assembly

Very recently, a sexual abuse case occurred in the Tokyo city assembly. Ayaka Shiomura, a female member of Tokyo assembly, belonging to Everyone's Party, was struck with jeering by some male politicians when she was having a presentation about supporting mothers. The voices attacking her included "Get married as soon as possible" and "Can you bear a child?".

The Guardian: Tokyo assemblywoman subjected to sexist abuse from other members

It is common that there is some impolite jeering in parliament not only in Japan, but also in foreign countries, as far as I know. Indeed, I am wondering why such behaviors can be accepted. By the way, these kind of ironies are quite problematic in this incident. "Can you bear a child?" is far more abusive than "Asshole" or "Bullshit", since it refers directly to gender.

Some Japanese media reported this act as "sexual harassment", whereas foreign media dealt with this case as a sexual abuse.

Members of the Everyone's party got angered, to begin attempting to identify the speaker of these jeering. But the chairperson of the Tokyo city assembly declined their request for punishing the speakers.

Several participants of this debate told that the voices were heard from the seats of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Since LDP has relatively traditional ideology about family relationship, it seemed to be true. Soon, thousands of criticisms hit LDP and Tokyo assembly.

LDP kept silence. But the criticism was burned more and more.

At last, today one assemblyman confessed that he made this jeering. He admitted that he said "Get married as soon as possible" and made an apology to Ms. Shiomura. He denied that he said "Can you bear a child?".

Wall Street Journal: Tokyo Assemblyman Apologizes For Heckling Female Councillor

Reuters: Japan lawmaker in hot water over sexist remark as government embarks on 'womenomics'

In a Japanese article, he explained that he hoped Shiomura to get married fast. He just intended to make a light joke.

His excuse seems meaningless at a glance. However, I guess it was his real idea. He could not imagine that this would be critical. Perhaps he does not think gender issues in Japan so seriously.

This is a problem in Japan. A large amount of Japanese believes women should keep them in their house. It is simply a certain ideology. However, women in Japan who choose to keep working have great difficulty. Discrimination against working mothers are strong even now. On the other hand, long-lasting recession has made it quite difficult for women to stay at home without earning money. As a result, not a few women are forced to abandon bearing a child due to financial crisis.

Many men, especially elders, are unconscious to this matter. I read that several politicians laughed at this jeering on this debate. I am afraid that lots of politicians other than the speakers cannot recognize the severity of this problem.


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