Should Japanese men have the right to molest women on the train? A close friend of the Prime Minister writes, “Yes!”––the magazine goes out business

“The deepest suffering belongs to the men who are plagued with the symptoms of train groper syndrome (痴漢症候群) in which his hand automatically moves when he steps on a packed train and catches a whiff of a woman. Shouldn’t society protect the rights of them [train molesters]?–Eitaro Ogawa, close associate of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Shincho 45, on the rights of chikan

In this month’s issue of the monthly magazine Shincho 45 (新潮45), Eitaro Ogawa, author of many works praising the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe–and his advisor–published an essay apparently asserting that men (痴漢) should have their right to grope women be protected. Understandably, that is drawing the ire of the on-line community and the real world. UPDATE: In fact, on September 25, Shinchosha (新潮社) announced the publication was being shelved (休刊) for the time being. 

 

The author of this book, which had sales subsidised by Prime Minister Abe, has asserted Japanese men should have a right to grope women on the train. Yes, according to Eitaro Ogawa, if you’re a woman in Japan and you get groped on the train–it’s because you’re giving off pheromones. The scent of a woman is the culprit and the victim is the chikan (train pervert).

Ogawa’s rant was one of many articles in their special October issue about whether it was acceptable to discriminate against the  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT).

It was a follow up to the August edition of the same magazine which published a piece by lawmaker Mio Sugita bashing the LGBT community as dead weight on society and a waste of any public funding.  In the magazine’s October feature section, ““Is Sugita’s article that outrageous?”, Ogawa and others sounded off on the topic. Prime Minister Abe has refused to admonish Sugita, claiming that she was “young and should be given slack”.

Ms. Sugita is 51 years old which makes the “crazy teenagers having fun” aka Brett Kavanaugh defense even more ridiculous.

She was recruited by the Prime Minister to join the Liberal Democratic Party.  She’s also blamed rape victims for being raped in other past statements.

The October issue in the special feature, has a rambling nearly incoherent essay by Ogawa on LGBT issues. He seems to classify homosexuality as a fetish, like an ass fetish, or a fondness for BDSM. However, his crowning moment comes in the following passage.

“The deepest suffering belongs to the men who are plagued with the symptoms of train groper syndrome (痴漢症候群) in which his hand automatically moves when he steps on a packed train and catches a whiff of a woman. Repeated offenses show that it is an uncontrollable urge stemming from the brain. Shouldn’t society protect and reserve their rights to grope [women]? Oh, you’ll probably say we should think of the the shock it causes for a woman. If you want to talk about shock, well, the sight of the honorable LGBT walking in the streets in mainstream media is shocking to me. Shocking to the point of a being deadly threat to me. I must ask of them to speak only after they have paid me a insurmountable amount for damages.”

〈満員電車に乗った時に女の匂いを嗅いだら手が自動的に動いてしまう、そういう痴漢症候群の男の困苦こそ極めて根深かろう。再犯を重ねるのはそれが制御不可能な脳由来の症状だという事を意味する。彼らの触る権利を社会は保証すべきではないのか。触られる女のショックを思えというのか。それならLGBT様が論壇の大通りを歩いている風景は私には死ぬほどショックだ、精神的苦痛の巨額の賠償金を払ってから口を利いてくれと言っておく。〉

Yes, according to Ogawa, if you’re a woman in Japan and you get groped on the train–it’s because you’re giving off pheromones. The scent of a woman is the culprit and the victim is the chikan (train pervert). Ogawa attempted to walk back his statement on television programs this weekend by saying the meaning of his essay got lost to the reader. A professor at Meiji University who appeared on a television program with Ogawa responded by saying, “If you write this kind of crap, so that the meaning gets lost, you should just stop writing. Seriously.”  Perhaps Ogawa only meant to be rhetorical but the text of his words, on their own, offend most sensible people. He may have been attempting to say that since in his mind, groping people on trains and being homosexual are just two different kinds of sexual perversion, that offering to protect the rights of one (homosexuality) over the other (men groping women on trains)  was ridiculous. Of course, he appears to be the most ridiculous of them all.

Ogawa has written many works lavishly praising Prime Minister Abe.  

On of his books lauding Abe,「約束の日」(The Promised Day) was published in 2012, right before the Liberal Democratic Party General Director elections which put Abe back in power for his second term as Prime Minister. The book was purchased in bulk by Abe’s political fund, 「晋和会」(Shinwakai).  They reportedly spent 7,000,000 yen (70,000 dollars) buying copies of the book, briefly elevating it to best-seller status.

Ogawa is one of several Abe literati profiting from their connection to the politician. Others include his unofficial biographer, Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a former Washington correspondent for TBS. In 2015, Yamaguchi was under investigation for the alleged sexual assault of journalist Shiori Ito and an arrest warrant was issued on rape charges against him. The arrest was stopped by Itaru Nakamura, a career bureaucrat from the National Police Agency, who also served as personal secretary to Abe’s cabinet spokesman. The investigation was then scuttled. Yamaguchi has denied all allegations. Ito is suing him in civil court for damages.

Ogawa was one of several members attending a party supporting Yamaguchi’s efforts to reinsert himself into the media after a period of being shunned.

Takanobu Sato, the president of Shinchosha Publishing Co. made a statement last week that the magazine’s special section contained expressions full of prejudice and was objectively offensive. There was little clarification of what exactly was unacceptable.

Ironically, Weekly Shincho (週刊新潮), in the last year has distinguished itself with outstanding investigative journalism and was the first publication to take up the case of Shiori Ito. It documented how a police investigation into her rape case was hijacked by political forces and how it was derailed by a close friend of the Abe cabinet, abusing his authority as a high-ranking police official.

Unfortunately, Shincho 45, has taken the approach of pandering to right-wing readers in order to boost sales. Or perhaps they are hoping that the Prime Minister’s political fund will buy $70,000 worth of an issue–now and then. Even within Shincho Publishing, there has been concern over the direction Shincho 45 has taken. In the company announcement of suspending the publication,  they admitted that in their trial and errors to boost sagging sales their had been insufficient oversight of the contents.

Ogawa has not walked back his essay.  So while conservatives may lament the loss of another right wing publication, on the other side, Japan’s train perverts can rest a little easier now that they know they have someone on their side whispering into the ear of the Prime Minister.

While Abe has deftly avoided making racist or misogynist statements, his propensity to surround himself with accused sex offenders, misogynists, gay-bashers and appointing rabid racists and sexists to cabinet positions, suggests that maybe he shares their view. One wonders. Under his reign, Japan’s gender equality ranking has sunk to a new low of 114 out of 144 countries.

Mari Yamamoto contributed to this article. 

Have you been a victim of sexual assault in Japan? How did police respond?

Japan’s Female Police Commissioner worked with racist & sexist newspaper?

NOTE: This article has been corrected after a reader pointed out that the Eriko Yamatani corner was written by a Zaitokukai  former executive and associate Shigeo Masuki and not Ms. Yamatani herself.

Recently appointed head of Japan’s Public Safety Commission, Eriko Yamatani 山谷えり子, who oversees all of Japan’s police forces, may be inappropriate to deal with Japan’s domestic violence issues—among other things. She has been in the news recently for her alleged ties to the Zaitokukai, a hate speech group that the UN, the United States, and even Japan’s National Police Agency have condemned. Prime Minister Abe has had his photo taken with one of the members as well, but that’s probably just a coincidence. Ahem.

Today at JSRC, we came across this newsletter, run by a member of the Zaitokukai (that Ms. Yamatani can’t remember meeting), to which she seems to have contributed materials. *

 

Eriko Yamatani, the head of Japan's Public Safety Commission, posing with a member of the hate group, Zaitokukai. She contributed an essay to his newsletter in which she derides Japan's democratic constitutions and suggests women should not be allowed to divorce.
Eriko Yamatani, the head of Japan’s Public Safety Commission, posing with a member of the hate group, Zaitokukai. She contributed an essay to his newsletter in which her associate derides Japan’s democratic constitutions and suggests women should not be allowed to divorce.

In a section of the newsletter, called, Yamatani Eriko’s Report From The Diet, Her right wing supporter explains in witty prose that women in Japan should have their right to divorce taken away from them as part of promoting gender equality. And of course, let’s do something about those tax dollars stolen by capricious single mothers. It’s as if to say, “once you’re married, a woman should have no rights.”

Not only is this newsletter one more link to Yamatani and the racist she says that she doesn’t know, it makes us think she isn’t a person who will really want to ensure the police crack down on domestic violence or stalkers—if she really agrees with this guy. Who she doesn’t remember.

You can download the full PDF of the newsletter here, which also has a nice picture of her with the Zaitokukai right wing racist she claims not to know.

*We were unable to get a comment from Ms. Yamatani on the contents of this essay at present.

Abe tells women to “shine,” but, really, he meant “die!”

A post that was meant to to show Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's support for women, due to some bad English usage with a different meaning when read as Japanese, ended up saying, "Hey all you women in Japan, drop dead!"
A post that was meant to to show Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s support for women, due to some bad English usage with a different meaning when read as Japanese, ended up saying, “Hey all you women in Japan, drop dead!”

 

A blog post written by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to show his support for women backfires when people pointed out that the English word “shine” can actually be read as the Japanese word for “drop dead (死ね)!”

The blog was coincidentally released shortly after a scandal in which members of Abe’s political party yelled sexist comments at the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly where Your Party member Ayaka Shiomura was giving a speech on the difficulties of women raising children in Tokyo.

As reported in The Daily Beast, the public is demanding the resignation of the members who called out, “Hey you, should hurry up and get married!” and “Can’t you have babies?”

The heckling and slurs all came from the seats of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) faction, which is the ruling party in the Tokyo Assembly and in the nation. The Cabinet Office declined to comment about the incident, saying that they “are not in a position to do so.” However, Prime Minister Abe is definitely in a position to comment. He is not only the leader of Japan, he is also the Director-General—the sosai —of the LDP. It looks like deeply-rooted misogyny is hard to hide.

Sexist jibes at Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Spark & Ignite Protests

A post that was meant to to show Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's support for women, due to some bad English usage with a different meaning when read as Japanese, ended up saying, "Hey all you women in Japan, drop dead!"
A few days after the debacle,  a post that was meant to to show Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s support for women, due to some bad English usage with a different meaning when read as Japanese, ended up saying, “Hey all you women in Japan, drop dead!”

“Can’t you make babies!?”—

A online petition calling for punishment of a Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly  member who hurled sexist comments at a fellow female assembly member gathered more than 32, 000 signatures throughout Japan in under 24 hours.  The petition was posted on change.org, a website which provides a platform for citizens to gather signatures and support for popular causes..

Ayaka Shiomura,  35-year-old woman from the Your Party, and elected member of Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, was calling for support for women who are infertile or need assistance while pregnant or raising children in a session of the assembly, and was interrupted with jeers and insults from fellow assembly member. The jibes came from someone in the seats reserved for Japan’s ruling party, the  Liberal Democratic Party members.  The insults included such gems as: “You should hurry up and get married!” “Can’t you have babies?”

The remarks brought up bad memories for some of the population as it mirrored the infamous 10 Precepts for Marriage issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1939 under the Imperial Japan regime. The guidelines concluded with the infamous line: 産めよ殖やせよ国のため (For the sake of the country, give birth and grow the population). These guidelines were based on similar ones issued by the Nazi regime.

It’s no secret that many of the privileged old men in the LDP view women as being primarily vehicles for siring more young Japanese men to ensure Japan can take care of its elderly and keep out foreign workers. 

The petition is the fastest growing on Change.org Japan ever, according to Emmy Suzuki Harris, Campaigns Director for Japan at Change.org.

But according to the creator of the petition, who is a man who does not want to have his name published, the signatures are not enough.

“Why?” he said, “Something that the citizens cannot really forgive happened. However, to see people in other regions showing the same anger at what happened touched and reassured me.”

“I’m deeply angry not only as an individual, but as a male. Because pressure and discrimination against women is, in fact, always pressing on men a different way of living at the same time.”

“These sort of taunts fly around and there are assembly members who laugh in an assembly where members who say ‘we’ll promote the social advancement of women!’ or ‘we’ll work firmly toward providing child care support!’ gather,” Shun Otokita, a colleague of Shimomura’s, wrote on his blog. “This is the reality of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in the capital of our country.”

The secretary-general of the LDP assembly members, Osamu Yoshiwara said that it wasn’t in his position to confirm whether or not it was a member of his party who yelled out the comments, but he asked assembly members to behave in a “in a dignified manner.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported that Yoshiwara said that he hadn’t heard the comments and suggested, “How about each assembly faction makes sure its members don’t make rude comments.”

Shiomura wrote on Twitter, “I will take taunts about my policies, but I don’t think this is something you should tell women who are suffering.”

Japan is also very far behind in terms of gender equality. Japan was ranked 105th last year in  the  2013 Global Gender Gap Report, which  ranks women’s equality in 136 countries. Under the Shinzo Abe (LDP) administration, Japan’s ranking in press freedom has already fallen to near Uzbekistan levels.

Shiomura is reportedly going to seek punishment for the person who yelled the comments at her.

Taunting and yelling out abuse isn’t uncommon during parliament sessions in Japan, as evident in this video and this video.