Posts Tagged: Japan

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Let’s Speak English #34!

In which sixth graders are sixth graders.

you’d be surprised how hard a time Japanese people have writing their own language in another alphabet

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Source: cubewatermelon

How to become a Japanese Pop Star. 

How to become a Japanese Pop Star. 

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Source: riffiee
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[previous convo truncated]

One aspect of the Tokyo assembly behaving like Beavis & Butthead that I haven’t seen raised in media or commentary is that no one in that assembly tried to stop it when it happened. No one sitting near the culprits raised an alarm while it was happening. No one tried to stop the hecklers. Every single person except the culprit and target sat on their thumbs. Everyone else in the hall let it happen. It’s a bit like that incident in March in Shibuya where a mother tried to kick her child’s head clean off. A few people raised their voices but no one physically stepped in and stopped her. In both cases the deed was terrifying. The lack of timely action, even more so.

Timely action can teach people that what a culprit has done is wrong. E.g.

Worse, they laughed. You can hear it in the short clip above, lots of dudes laughing. Even Ayaka Shiomura herself laughs, if only because she didn’t know what else to do.

The collective acceptance of this behavior is why I never cared about the “who” in this case. They’re all responsible, every one in that room.

Source: feitclub



I never thought I’d say this, but sexism in Japan is worse than I thought.

The video above is from the floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. Ayaka Shiomura, an elected representative, was calling for “government measures to support women who are infertile or need assistance while pregnant or raising children” when the insults started.

"Why don’t you get married?"

"Can’t you have kids?"

In the small snippet above, she stops and appears to take it in stride. According to the Asahi Shimbun, she “tearfully struggled to continue.” The Mainichi quoted her after the incident “”I’m angered especially because I was representing the viewpoint of women. I’m also saddened.”

In the above video she tells FNN “it was like I had been punched without warning, all I could say was ‘wha?’ and laugh.”

Whether she actually cried on the floor is irrelevant. This is outrageous behavior, and the only silver lining seems to be that this is the consensus viewpoint. Numerous politicians from different parties condemned the remarks, though the Mainichi story is oddly calling the harassment “alleged” as if there isn’t video evidence.

As usual, someone brought up the Olympics:

"It is shameful that these kinds of comments would appear at the assembly of a city that is to host the Olympics in six years."

Yeah, not relevant at all to the conversation BUT given how Olympics-crazy Japan is, maybe invoking the name of the great and powerful Five Rings will make sexists take note of how deplorable their conduct is. I’ve already heard the Olympics used as motivation for everything from new signs to English education to building robots, so “decrying sexism” isn’t inconceivable.

I’m not sure how this story will play out. Best case scenario, the anger reaches the party head level and public apologies are made. Worse case scenario, this all fades away because “it can’t be helped” or “that’s politics.” Because I gotta tell you. the previous governor of Tokyo didn’t face insults and he was accused of taking millions of yen under the table.

tokyoreporter for the video

This a great post about the sexism women endure here in Japan. It is also worth mentioning that while many offices in Japan may have posters declaring that sexual harassment will not be tolerated, most cases of sexual harassment are rarely prosecuted or taken seriously. Women that are sexually harassed often face shame and ridicule for speaking out against their persecutors and thus disrupting the harmony of the work environment.

I have witnessed heinous sexual harassment at an office work party that resulted in no disciplinary action and which was so outrageous that I felt obliged to place myself between the harasser and the woman being harassed. (Meanwhile, our other coworkers, male and female, laughed the incident off.)

Moreover, most cases of sexual violence against women (ranging from men groping women on trains or on train platforms to rape) are rarely prosecuted. Every woman I know (foreigners and Japanese) who have spent more than a couple months in Japanese cities with mass transit have been targeted by gropers (except me).

Between living in Fukuoka and Kyoto, I have had about six incidents of harassment (including the time a man physically picked me up on busy public sidewalk). Each time, my Japanese friends and coworkers never suggested I inform authorities; they didn’t even think about it. In fact, when I say I have had six such incidents, most Japanese women have a hard time believing my number is that low.

Thank you for sharing your story. As a man I almost never face harassment, though there is this one old man who, on more than one occasion at after-work dinner parties, groped my breasts as a joke. Each time I was furious but he’s so old and everyone always laughs, so I just stayed quiet. It’s a big reason I avoid dining with that group whenever possible.

I can only imagine the strength it takes to report sexual assault in this country. I bet even the cops tell victims to just walk it off and forget about it.

As long as I’m reblogging this, let’s update the story: Ms. Shiomura did receive an apology (two in fact) but they were both lacking in sincerity. And while the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly is taking steps to prevent future incidents like this, the Assembly is also taking steps to put this highly embarrassing matter to bed. Motions to identify or punish the persons responsible (seriously, more than one guy shouted all that stuff) were rejected. Even a motion to make the one identified harasser, Akihiro Suzuki, apologize to the assembly, was voted down.

It feels good to see that what happened to Ms. Shiomura will not soon be forgotten, but it’s still disappointing that no one seems interesting in addressing what really happened here. Instead, we get a quick apology from one disinterested dude and then we move on. I’ve seen far smaller scandals get more legislative attention than this.

Source: feitclub
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I trust you’ve heard about the sexist taunting that went down last week on the floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly by now (the story made it to CNN and other foreign news websites). You may also have read my thoughts about the “apology” the victim, Ayaka Shiomura, received from the reported culprit.

So imagine my surprise when I saw internet headlines today saying that the Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, went to apologize for this incident. The Prime Minister is the leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, the same party whose members were responsible for heckling Ms. Shiomura last week (only one man has come forward, Akihiro Suzuki).

Now that’s something, I thought to myself. The leader of Japan’s most powerful political party and the entire nation apologizing on behalf of his underlings shows how big a deal this is. So I clicked on the headline, read the story, and I noticed something was odd. I watched the news clip, and read a few more stories. I had to be sure.

He apologized to her boss, not to her. You can’t make this up.

This still counts as progress, in my opinion. As I noted in my dismissal of Suzuki’s apology, the fact that she even received an apology counts as progress, so to see the leader of Japan address it at all is a positive. And we don’t know if she or Abe had a busy schedule that day, so this was the only meeting that could take place at that time. And a party leader tête-à-tête could very well be the protocol in inter-party controversies like this.

But still…a woman is publicly humiliated, the world is revolted, and the prime minister apologizes to another man instead of to the victim herself. That’s very Japanese, and not the best way to respond to this issue.





Source: ijustcanttoday


It’s been five days since Ayaka Shiomura was verbally harassed on the floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. Today a man came forward to admit he was responsible and apologized to her.

Surprise, surprise: it’s all bullshit.

First of all, the man in question is Akihiro Suzuki. He initially denied that he was the one who shouted at Shiomura “You should hurry up and get married!” while she was addressing the assembly (seriously can you imagine the temerity) but suddenly today he has had a change of heart. Funny how that only happened after the story blew up internationally, spawning embarrassing stories about Japanese sexism around the world.

This entire confession/apology is a sham, a public demonstration intended to kill the story when the story was never a “whodunit” in the first place. The reason this incident made headlines abroad was because of the naked sexism on display, sexism which went completely unchecked by a political body as it was happening. It’s nice to hear that one man will pay minor consequences for his actions (no, he won’t be resigning), but the time for censure and apologies was five days ago.

And really, look at that bow. That is a shit bow. That is an obligatory bow, the kind you might see from an underling bowing alongside his superior.


For context, let’s look at Nobuteru Ishihara apologizing to the people of Fukushima today for implying that they could be convinced to host radioactive waste if they were well compensated. Not only is he completely bending over, this was merely one stop on an apology tour of the region. And it came after he publicly retracted his statements (which included more bowing).

Ishihara is not some local assembly member, he’s a cabinet-level minister and a well-known political figure. Yet he’s out there in the sticks trying to make amends.

Suzuki is a nobody who publicly humiliated not just a colleague, not just Japanese women, but the entire nation. His barely-there, five days late apology doesn’t even register on the sincerity scale. And Shiomura all but said so when she responded with "It marks progress, but it was a bit too late (for Suzuki) to come forward." That’s a very polite way of saying she’s not buying it, and neither should anyone else.

Apologies in Japan are commonplace and highly ritualized. I once had a real-estate agent grovel in the entrance to my apartment when he thought I might take my business elsewhere after he sent a poorly-worded e-mail. That’s called dogeza and it’s what you do when you’ve committed a serious error.

For a man in Suzuki’s position to offer Shiomura a lip-service-level apology after a high-profile incident like this reflects the overall attitude in Japan towards sexism, harassment, and male privilege: this is no big deal, it’s just a joke that was taken too seriously. That it counts as “progress” only goes to show how bad things are here.

I guarantee if this story hadn’t made headlines in the US and Europe, Shiomura would not have even gotten an apology. Hell, a young politician like her, representing a small opposition party, she might even have been chastised for publicly venting her frustrations on Twitter. In a way she has, as the press is clearly focusing on her more than her abusers. The tabloids are even digging up old scandals, stuff she’s denied before.

Now that the apology has been made, I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up paying a higher price than Suzuki. It would be awesome to be surprised for once though.

UPDATE: The Prime Minister of Japan has apologized on behalf of his party’s behavior in this incident. However, he did not apologize to the victim but to her boss.

(Suzuki photo source)

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エヴァ 第三使徒サキエル

ha ha ha I have barely seen any Evangelion but I love this

(via badoorsnk)

Source: xiuk