Monday, December 31, 2007

Does Japan downplay sex crimes?

Deseret News (Salt Lake City), Jun 29, 2003 by Howard W. French New York Times News Service

HAYATO, Japan -- Two years ago, a 16-year-old high school girl who lived near here was hospitalized with a high fever. After doctors found that she had an acute case of genital herpes, she told her parents that her teacher had had sex with her.

When approached by the parents, the teacher denied the claim, warning them that their daughter would be expelled if they reported him.

Experts say molestation and statutory rape are commonplace in schools across Japan and that victims rarely come forward. To do so would violate a host of powerful social conventions, said Akiko Kamei, a retired teacher who is the country's only nationally known expert in classroom sexual abuse.

"In Japan there is a rape myth, which says that the victim of a rape is always to blame," Kamei said. "Moreover, women are told that if you suffer molestation or groping, you have to be ashamed. If you talk about it to anyone else, you are going to be tainted for the rest of your life."

Beyond that, even when they are identified and caught, molesters rarely receive more than a slap on the wrist.

Speaking at a public symposium, a member of Parliament, Seiichi Ota, recently made light of reports of gang rapes at a Tokyo university. "Boys who commit group rape are in good shape," Ota said. "I think they are rather normal. Whoops, I shouldn't have said that." (The legislator's comments were carried in many Japanese newspapers.)

Recently, however, the public tolerance for rape has begun to change as a handful of victims or their families have pressed charges against classroom molesters. The mother of the girl infected with herpes, for example, went to the police, which led not only to the dismissal of the 49-year-old teacher but to a one-year prison sentence for him as well.

In an interview about the incident, the mother requested anonymity, as do most people involved in such cases. She said that if her identity were revealed, she would be ostracized and could even lose her job.

As if to underline the family's concern, the daughter has left Japan, fleeing the taunts of fellow students and the cold shoulder of teachers at her former school.

"Whose interests would it serve for us to go public?" said the mother, who asked not only that her name not be used but that the name of her town, which is near Hayato, in western Japan, not be revealed. "We would have liked to receive solidarity from other people, but that is not how it works in Japan. I grew up in this community, and although a foreigner might not understand, it is a fact that the victim is always cast in a negative light."

The number of reported molestations in Japan schools rose from 27 in 1992 to 122 in 2001, the most recent year for which data are available.

Copyright C 2003 Deseret News Publishing Co.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

LDP lawmakers oppose voting right for foreigners

This article is old, yet shows you the thinking of many
in the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan. Perhaps long-term
foreign residents in Japan should be allowed to vote?
What about those born in Japan but having Chinese or
Korean nationality, shouldn`t they be allowed to vote?
What do you think?

Japan Policy & Politics, May 21, 2001

TOKYO, May 15 Kyodo


Members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) failed Tuesday to reach a compromise on a pending bill to grant permanent foreign residents in Japan the right to vote in local elections, party members said.

They said the LDP members failed to reach agreement because many lawmakers expressed opposition.

About 15 lawmakers aired their opinions at a meeting of the LDP's Research Commission on the Election System, held at the party's headquarters in Tokyo. Some spoke strongly against the measure, saying giving non-Japanese residents the right to vote would infringe on Japan's national sovereignty.

Another opinion to surface during the meeting was that non-Japanese residents should acquire Japanese citizenship if they wanted to vote, and that the Diet should move to relax the conditions for obtaining Japanese citizenship to promote this course.

Only a handful of lawmakers supported the bill, advocating a full discussion be held on the issue. They said permanent residents should be given the right to vote in local elections in the communities where they were born and raised, but stopped short of supporting granting them voting rights in national elections.

The LDP leadership had hoped to nurture a consensus on members' opinions as soon as possible because the New Komeito party -- one of the LDP's two coalition allies and a major sponsor of the bill -- is hoping the Diet will vote on the matter before the end of the current 150-day ordinary session in late June.

The LDP leadership was seeking a compromise by which the Diet would vote on the bill in the current session, with party lawmakers given a free vote.

However, that idea was rejected by some LDP members at the meeting who said a free vote would cause an unseemly spectacle by openly splitting the party during the Diet session.

Former Construction Minister Masaaki Nakayama who chaired the meeting, told reporters after the meeting that he will convey the results of the debate to the LDP's allies -- the New Komeito and the New Conservative Party (NCP). He said another meeting will be held soon to try and find a workable compromise.

Meanwhile, the LDP has approved a bill to scrap the current screening process used in granting Japanese citizenship to permanent residents and instead accept applications via the justice minister.

The ruling coalition parties will jointly submit the bill to the current Diet session.

The amendment will simplify the complicated application process for obtaining citizenship for permanent residents hailing from former Japanese colonies on the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan as well as their descendants.

Some LDP members are calling for the bill to be presented as an alternative to the New Komeito's proposals to give permanent residents the right to vote in local election. The New Komeito, however, insists its bill should be considered separately.

There are 630,000 permanent foreign residents in Japan, most of them Koreans born in Japan.

Two separate but almost identical bills to grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local assembly, mayoral and gubernatorial elections were proposed to a previous parliamentary session last July, one by the New Komeito and the NCP, the other by the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

The Diet did not vote on the bills in the previous session, carrying over them to the current session.

The South Korean government and the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan are both strong backers of the legislation.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Kyodo News International, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

Buraku Liberation League

Buraku Liberation League is a movement demanding a national policy on Buraku problems. Email: Web:

Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute (BLHRRI) aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination, particularly against the Buraku, in Japan. 1-6-12 Kuboyoshi, Naniwaku, Osaka City, Japan 556-0028. Tel: +81-6-6568-0905; Fax: +81-6-6568-0714. Web:

COPYRIGHT 2005 New Internationalist Magazine
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

Kierkegaard & Japanese Philosophy

The Danish Philosopher Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is an enigmatic thinker whose works call out for interpretation. One of the most fascinating strands of this interpretation is in terms of Japanese thought. Kierkegaard himself knew nothing of Japanese philosophy, yet the links between his own ideas and Japanese philosophers are remarkable. These links were spotted quickly by Japanese thinkers and Japanese translations of Kierkegaard appeared long before English translations did. Yet, strangely enough, the Japanese relation to Kierkegaard has been all but ignored in the West.
--James Giles, author and University Professor

Naoko Hashimoto on Japan & the Future of Japan

Pictured: Asakusa Gong

"I think one of the issues is going to be environmental issues. Right now Japan is doing a lot of work trying to find ways to save energy and also to recycle. And recently, there's been a car that was a project by the Kao University and it's called Eli-ca and it doesn't use any gasoline, it just operates on battery. And so there's been a lot of research on finding out ways to save energy."--Naoko Hashimoto

"I recently read Iris Chang's Rape of Nanking, and there were things in that book that the Japanese people probably don't know about, and so I think that the majority of Japanese people are almost oblivious and they don't know the kind of violence that took place in the Rape of Nanking. I can understand and sympathize with a lof the Chinese people's anger after reading that book, but before, because the Japanese people aren't told what happened exactly at the Rape of Nanking, we don't know why they are so angry, and so now I think I can sympathize with the Chinese."--Naoko

"Well technologically speaking, [Japan is] getting better, but spiritually, it's not so strong. A lot of people have a lot of emotional problems, there are a lot of people committing suicide, and there are a lot of students who are too stressed out about entrance exams for college and there seems to be and also now we have a problem where there's not enough...babies being born and so I think that's saying something about the situation in Japan and that young people find it hard to live in Japan."
--Naoko Hashimoto,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is this Japan?

Pictured: a temple in Japan

by Robert Upland

Mariko Suzuki shivers as she teaches at a local Japanese
junior high school. She isn`t allowed to turn on the heater.
That costs money. The students bundle up as best they can
and try to concentrate on the lesson. It is difficult
to write kanji when your fingers are blue.

At a junior high school in Odawara, the children shiver.
The small stove heater in the room is not strong enough to
heat it. Several children will go to hospital that day
suffering from frostbite.

Mariko gazes out the window at the expanse of dirt where
the children play. A grass
field too, costs money it should be assumed.
Yet this spartan existence is touted by the government
as building strength and sacrifice in Japanese youth.
I see it as short changing the people who will be the
future of this country.

It is interesting that in one of the richest nations
of the world, the conditions
one finds at times for students and teachers, smacks
of less advantaged nations like
North Korea.

Further, it is notable what our politicians choose
to spend our tax money on. Routinely it would seem,
the banks of rivers are cemented. Police are paid to
stop motorists for seatbelt violations, but not to stop
the motor cycle gangs known as the bosozoku, who routinely
terrorize and endanger the populous by their
actions. (Note: See our other article about bosozoku,
"The Tribes of Midnight," also at Japan Living)

Japan routinely places in the top ten in military
spending amongst nations. She is often in the top 6
and a large exporter of weapons as well. Again, what
this says to us is arms are more important than our youth.
Of course you will never hear a Japanese politician
actually say this,...
but actions do speak louder than words.

Japanese Idiots

"Gang rape shows the people who do it are still vigorous, and that is OK."
--Seiichi Ota (BBC News)

Kiichi Inoue, minister for disaster management, suggested that the murder of a classmate by an 11-year-old schoolgirl indicated a sign of women's progress.

"Men have committed thoughtless, harsh acts but I think this is the first for a girl," Mr Inoue told reporters. "Recently the difference between men and women is shrinking." He said "vigorous" women were increasing in society.

He joins a long list of Japanese politicians who have succeeded in inflaming a painful incident by making inappropriate comments.--BBC News

"Yoshitada Konoike said the parents of a boy suspected of killing a small child should be beheaded as a warning to parents who do not control their children effectively.

"The parents (of the 12-year-old boy) should be pulled through the streets and their heads should be chopped off," Mr Konoike told a news conference."
--BBC News

"…senior politician Takami Eto sparked complaints from China after suggesting that the Nanking massacre during World War II was a "big lie".

China says that 300,000 Chinese died at the hands of Japanese troops in Nanking, but some Japanese nationalists contest whether the massacre happened at all." BBC News

"Seiichi Ota, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said at a debate on Japan's declining birth rate that at least gang rapists had a healthy appetite for sex.

Then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, commenting on Mr Ota's remarks, suggested women who are raped are "asking for it" by the way they dress."--BBC News

"Possibly the most gaffe-prone of all Japan's politicians, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, also drew fire… for suggesting childless women should be denied welfare payments in old age."--BBC News

"Hosei Norota, senior lawmaker and former Defence Minister, sparked controversy in 2001, when he said his country was not to blame for its entry into the war, and had been forced into action by the US."--BBC News

Mr. Norota obviously believes nations should shoot first before negotiating.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

30 Years After Abductions, Questions Haunt Japanese

NIIGATA, Japan -- Megumi Yokota was walking home from badminton practice here in Niigata, on the northern coast of Japan, when North Korean agents grabbed the 13-year-old and packed her off to a waiting ship.

That was 30 years ago.

North Korea says she is long dead, a suicide. But her parents -- and millions of Japanese -- refuse to believe it. They regard Yokota as very much alive, a woman now in midlife, deprived of her freedom in a closed communist state.