A March on Tokyo in Tokyo?

img_0110Apparently, there was a women’s march on Washington in Tokyo– an anti-Trump rally organized by expats with about 600 plus participants including dozens of Japanese nationals.  While I appreciate all of you who were traveling in Japan or are living there on a more permanent basis taking the time out to support your female comrades in the US, I’m sure we will be quite fine.  Just to let you know, mainstream media has blown a few things out of proportion (as they tend to do) and the sky isn’t really falling.  And, more importantly, when you look around Japan, aren’t there bigger fish to fry? Issues that need to be addressed right where you are standing?

Honestly, I find it ironic that Western women in Japan, where the commodification of young girls right exists out in the open, would participate in support of women’s rights in the US.  In a nation where it was legal to produce child porn until 2011 and to possess until 2014…a country which has the lowest age of consent of any industrialized nation at just 13 years, shouldn’t there be organized protests on a regular basis for the rights and protection of these soon to be young women?  Don’t you see the virtual child porn on the newsstands, the glorification of schoolgirls and student sex trafficking in the guise of paid afternoon walks around a neighborhood of love hotels and think something is terribly wrong?

While things in the US aren’t perfect for women, minorities, folks with physical and mental disabilities, those with different gender/sexual identities, things are far worse in Japan.  Child abuse of all kinds is a hidden secret, mental healthcare services lags, victims services are practically non-existent, equal pay is not really enforced and sexual harassment is just part of the job.

The US is far more advanced in these areas and will remain so.  Expats, while you are living in Japan, why don’t you focus on what you can do locally to draw attention to things you know aren’t right?  All of you expat women in particular, trying to assimilate and be good gaijin, adopting the ways and mannerisms of the Japanese, what are you in effect supporting with your assimilation and almost blind acceptance? Sorry to be harsh, but I was in your position long ago and the fallout of what you see daily really hit home and I’d like to see more women speak up.

I long for the day that there is women’s march on Tokyo in Tokyo.

#tokyoexpats #womensmarchtokyo #womensmarch

 

 

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15 thoughts on “A March on Tokyo in Tokyo?

  1. That begs this question: What is it about the need for approval that causes women to do things that go against their own best interests?

    I ask that question quite a bit, because I’m always met with silence when I attempt to talk about matters that are important to me, which includes fighting racism, pornography in general, and child pornography and abuse in particular.

    Since this is a problem on a global scale, do any expats anywhere speak out against the wrongs and ills of the societies that they have chosen to adopt and live in?

    For that matter, why did it take so long for you to speak out against things that were in plain sight? What made you go against your own best interests? I’ve been musing over whether or not to ask that question, and decided to do so, if only to satisfy my own curiosity. Besides, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t ask.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your questions are spot on. It is absolutely fair to ask me personally about my blind followership.

      Frankly, in the beginning I was young, just sixteen, and was looking for acceptance. In Japan I received a lot of attention and I was drawn to the coolness of the culture. I’m a strong-willed person despite myself, and when I committed to learn everything I could about the culture and live there, I dove in and hooked up.

      Even before I married there was abuse as I was being trained to do things the Japanese way. I kept telling myself that if I learned and tried harder things would improve, but they never did and I just managed though. And at first I thought I had just married a bad person, but later I would realize there was a lot more to it…a cultural aspect. I was at least 4 years in when I began to piece things together and not long after that realization I was pregnant and fell into my dutiful role as a mother. It would be another 10 years before I really came to grips with the fact that the culture had issues I was not willing to live with any longer.

      For me it was a combination of low self-esteem, my age and lack of knowledge at the time (80’s and early 90’s). I think expats generally get mesmerized by exotic cultures and dismiss things they would not at home. That was certainly part of it for me. Now all I can do is speak and write about my experience and encourage others not to blindly accept. It surprises me that quite educated women, even those who have studied Japan academically, still dismiss the popular cutie culture which encourages young women to speak and act demure/childlike and schoolgirls to be idolized as being just a fad or something harmless in Japanese society. Thank you for asking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your honest answer – and I appreciate you not taking offense at my question. None is intended at all.
        I can relate to what you said about wanting acceptance…I understand that perfectly. I married young as well, and put up with some things that I shouldn’t have.
        Even well-educated people can fall into some sticky traps, for sure! Being mesmerized by a culture is certainly one of those pitfalls. I think that’s why people from other countries think that America is a golden utopia, when those of us who live here know the bad and the ugly of it – just like citizens of other countries are aware of, yet ignore, any ugliness that the culture at large possesses.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for putting this in perspective. Honestly it’s not clear what the women in Washington were marching for. My best guess is that they’re worried President Trump will act like a compassionate human being and outlaw abortion. You are 100% correct that child exploitation in Japan deserves more attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a pro-choice liberal, but I can respect that there are many opinions on abortion. Since that is a huge debate, I’d like to put it aside and focus on trump’s anti-woman activities. He has repeatedly conflated women’s worth with their appearance, has reduced them to only being important for sex, has had multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against women including the rape and beating of an exwife. He has threatened to cut down access and funding for women’s health services. Pretending all of this means people are only worried about the legalities of abortion is overly simplistic.

    To relate this back to Japan, I’ve heard many people talking about trump, but have always felt he and Abe share similar beliefs. Except Abe lacks the bluster and theatricality.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wouldn’t dare defend Trump for his insensitive, often insulting words; nor would I condemn him for any action for which he has not been tried. Generalizations are being made on all sides and I think we need to see what is proposed and how our elected officials from each state respond.

      My point is this, America has made progress in caring for all kinds of people. I’ve seen it in my lifetime which spans five decades now. I don’t believe we are going to take many…if any steps backwards. (Maybe the approach to caring will be different and there will be of course a spin.) In comparison with Japan, the US is far advanced on social issues and will remain a leader. Japan however has barely budged since my time as a housewife there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I certainly agree that Japan trails the states in terms of social progress. I have lived over here for over a decade now. I do think there has been some progress. Sadly, most of that progress comes in the form of people simply recognizing that there is progress to be made. Actual steps forward are fairly rare, and those that are made tend to result mostly in lip-service or to be toothless.

        I don’t know how much space you want spent discussing the USA here, so I’ll just quickly say that my worry is that at the highest levels there seems to be an antagonistic approach to the services the government should be safeguarding (just look at the education nominee). And a president who has, at best, an alternative relationship with honesty.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I am a native of Japan but has immigrated to the US in early 80s. There is such a pressure in Japan for girls to be “good”. It means that girls should be obedient, polite and never raise the voice. It means that they are expected to suffer silently and never question the elders and the men in their lives.
    It’s suffocating to live the life the way they are expected and be “good”.
    If the girls take abuses, they are expected to be quiet and keep the suffering inside. They are not supposed to bring shame to the family even if the shame is caused by someone else.
    Well, in recent years, the Japanese women started to say that they no longer are willing to live with the life time suffering. The divorce rate has been on the rise.
    I think what has to change, but has not changed so far in Japan is men’s thinking and perception. Men are allowed to be offensive, say crude things to girls or do what they please, and there are hardly any repercussions for them. In traditional Japanese marriages, if married men go out and buy sexual pleasures, that is considered normal and is not cheating. Some would even blame wives that they are not good enough.
    If men are allowed so much, and there is no shame, there is no motivation for them to change the way of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comments Yoshida-San. I agree with you completely. Japanese men can be very crude and insensitive in their attitudes toward women and teen girls. It is up to women and society in general I think, to call this out and “shame” them– eventually turning that shame to their guilt for being such thinking. I was an interpreter for several years too at the end of my Japanese life, and in that work I had to be obedient of course and take a lot of sexism which I was used to from my marriage. Eventually it caused me to leave my profession as an interpreter. I simply did not want to deal with their terrible manners. Some were kind and respectful to me though and I don’t want to paint a bad picture of everyone, but let’ just say the men in certain positions could get away with a lot of things they would not dare say in an American company these days. The joking or demeaning gets old an wears a woman down.

      We are from the same generation (I was born in ’63) and I’m sure young men have progressed to a degree which is good news. Of all things, though, I am most disgusted by the idolization of young girls which men in their twenties, thirties and beyond should be ashamed of. This is insulting to mature women and keeps women as a whole down as their prime is passed too young. The entertainment industry in all of its forms perpetuates this. Honestly I feel so alone speaking out about it as if I’m the only one (and a bit crazy!). But I lived that life and my ex Japanese husband is in prison for his thinking that he acted upon. Thus I wrote my book and am trying to wake people up.

      Thank you again for your words that confirm my thoughts.

      Like

  5. A lot of issues are tangled up in why people protest Trump but not salarymen on the Yamanote line. One that leaps out at me is that Trump seems to represent lost progress rather than slow progress. Losses are felt more acutely than foregone gains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always love your insight Mr. M.

      I think it is a wait and see situation with Trump. He may repeal a few things because there are other ways to go about taking care of people. I can tell you, for example, I personally know people who are on social security (disability) that are every bit as capable of working as I am. There is a need for jobs and to get people self sufficient and doing for themselves more. I am not a fan of his voice, manner and many of his ideas, but if we could get things running more efficiently we can use the funds for the better. There is too much “the sky is falling” around here and it is inciting negativity and pitting folks against each other.

      The government needs to be run more business-like which means using tools such as six sigma and lean/kaizen which will allow the gov to reach it’s goals and provide the people (customers) what they want in the right way without enduring more debt which is precarious.

      My company, for example, is a large global corporation that is very big into family/life balance, hiring people from diverse backgrounds and providing them with club activities, wellness and charity. That is what economic health does. Our company is attractive for those reasons and can get the best talent out there.

      I’m getting a bit off topic, but I do agree with you that folks are scared at what they predict will be a “loss” but I think we just have to take things one day at a time here and make sure we are getting balanced information.

      The expats in Japan should be a voice for women and children in Japan as they know better. In some ways I wish I were there to raise a ruckus!

      Like

  6. While your suggestion on women’s march on Tokyo in Tokyo made perfect sense to you due to your traumatic experience, it didn’t carry as much weight to other foreigners and locals alike who may had a much more pleasant experience throughout their stay in Japan. To put it more plainly, good gaijin never experience traumatic experience in a personal way that compel them to advocate for change. Even more so when they are foreigners in a foreign land. Rubbing the local Japanese the wrong could work against them.
    What concerned me more regarding this march are whether American women are really offended by the lack of respect towards women’s right, driven by a sense of guilt for not voting when they had the privilege to vote (close to 50% of Americans did not vote), due to herd mentality because pussy-hat is oh so cute or the opportunity to participate in some form of drama to elevate their boring life? The reasons are many and people will inherently be complicated creatures to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

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