Tag Archive for politics

International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day (Wikipedia). Japan isn’t exactly the symbol or beacon of gender equality, but there are some highlights. Over fifty years ago, women in Japanese universities were extremely rare or not even allowed in, however, they are now making up over 50% of university entrants. I have read somewhere that Japan probably has the world’s best educated housewives. Women are taking up an increasing number of office jobs, though some struggles remain. Sayaka Osakabe recently won an American award for promoting women’s rights in the workplace (on 7th March 2015, Japan Today). The number of women in Japan’s parliament has doubled in the last twenty years, and Japan has moved up 14 places in world rankings; albeit from 127th to 113th (6th March, 2015 Japan Times). There will surely be more achievements in the future, however, what is needed? What is the highest priority now?

JapanesePhotos.Asia wishes for a great day to all women everywhere, and a hope for fortune and happiness to all people.


An American and a Japanese women on the street in Osaka

5 Out of kilter things about Japan this week

Short and long term residents quickly realise that Japan is a place of contradictions, but also forget that their own countries have contradictions as well. Here in Japan some of these contradictions made it to national and international headlines.

1. ANA “Racist” TV advertisement

The All Nippon Airways airline released a new TV advertisement on Saturday 18th January in Japan (ABCJapan Today, see on YouTube). The actors in the ad speak English (though with a clear Japanese accent) and it is subtitled in Japanese. I’m not sure who the ad is aimed at, especially as it was released in Japan, though it’s in English, and most Japanese people haven’t the foggiest when things are said to them in English. The end of the ad shows an ANA pilot wearing a blond wig and a long strap-on nose. I think most non-Japanese people in the world are not actually blonde, and I’ve not met a single person in my life with such an exaggerated nose. Such stereotypical exaggerations may remind some of the World War Two era, American anti-Japanese posters. On Monday ANA has apologised, initially said they would not withdraw the ad, but then Tuesday said they would alter it.

For this photo, and others like it, see my Transport gallery in my PhotoShelter portfolio.

 

2. Prime Minister visits Yasakuni Shrine

Yasakuni Shrine is controversial. Not because it honours Japan’s soldier who have fought and died for Japan, but because some of the names enshrined includes convicted class A war criminals. So on Boxing Day (26th Dec, 2013), the increasingly right leaning Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Yasakuni Shrine to pay his respects (BBC, CNN, Huffington Post), a move that angers China and Korea and others, and should also anger some allied nations like Australia and the UK who have lost soldiers to Japanese war crimes.

 

3. The Prime Minister welcomes international visitors & workers

The number of workers available to work in factories is declining. However, since the crisis of 2008, many of Japan’s companies moved their manufacturing overseas to Thailand and China, and have no plans to return production here. Despite the extremely low participation of women in the workforce, especially with forced retirement after giving birth (The Asahi Shimbun), the government decided to bring in foreign workers (Japan Today). Also, Japan welcomed its 10 millionth visitor(s) 2013, a Thai couple (who do not have blonde hair or long noses), and expects this number to rise ahead of the 2020 games in Tokyo (Japan Times).

 

4. Japan refuses entry to Malaysian politician

Earlier this week, Anwar Ibrahim was refused entry into Japan. As I understand, he was an important figure in Malay politics and was a real rival to some other politicians. It also appears that in 1999 some charges were laid against him in an effort to character assassinate him and ruin his political career. Japanese customs just simply refused him entry, and without adequate explanation (ABC, Japan Today).

 

5. China honours assassin, and a dolphin hunt

China recently unveiled a portrait of a Korean who assassinated Japan’s first prime minister and the Japanese governor of the occupied Korean peninsula (Japan Times). I agree, it is distasteful for a government to sponsor such a thing, but still, the Japanese prime minister honouring war criminals is perhaps worse, and may lead to a further drop in Chinese and Korean tourists to Japan (China Daily Asia, The Asahi Shimbun). Further still is the recent Twitter outrage at Wakayama Prefecture’s dolphin hunt, where the current US ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Yoko Ono have condemed the hunt (Japan Times). Yoko Ono also cites international criticism as a valid reason to cease the hunt. Also, to lend their wait to the protest, Anonymous hacked Wakauama Peefectures website and shut it down.

For this photo, and others like it, see my PhotoShelter portfolio.

 

Conclusion?

It does look like Japan wants to engage internationally, but it doesn’t do so sincerely or worse. I think it’s best to remind the reader that all countries have their contradictions, and it’s always easier to see these when you’re on the outside looking in.

Senkaku Islands dispute

As you may know, the Senkaku Islands dispute is being ratcheted up by newly installed politicians who are eager to prove their worth; that is, it’s an ego contest, a test of wits, or a game of chicken (who will blink first). In any case, Japan has been using the Coast Guard to patrol the disputed islands, and since China has been sending surveillance aircraft, F-15 jets (pictured below) have been scrambled (thanks to a Google+ user for sharing this source, Global Post). Talk on Google+ by some has turned pessimistic, as if some sort of armed skirmish is inevitable. Let’s hope “cool heads will prevail”. More photos of the Japanese Self-defence Air Force are available on my PhotoShelter portfolio.

Update (15 Jan 2013): The Chinese government now plans to ‘survey’ the Senkaku Islands (BBC)

Update (21 Jan 2013): Chinese fighter jets now involved, and Prime Minister Abe calls for ‘rules of engagement’ to prevent a military escalation (Japan Today).

News: Demonstrations calling for marriage equity

I had time to stroll around Sydney and Darling Harbour for just one afternoon, and completely by chance this group were holding a demonstration. They chanted “Julia” as ‘Joooliaa’, and there were other chants, too. Julia Gillard is the current Prime Minister in Australia. On the evening news I learnt that the Labour Party were holding their annual conference and on that same day it seems that Ms Gillard had submitted to pressure and allowed Labour Party members to choose to support a bill which would allow same sex marriage. That is to say, she herself does not support the bill, but she is not publicly, or explicitly going to block it.

New Prime Minister (again)

Japan is to get yet another Japanese Prime Minister. Back in the blog entry on 23rd March I predicted that because of the earthquake and the nuclear disaster there would be a new Japanese PM by the end of summer, though it was so predictable that the outcome raises no eyebrows. Can an earthquake cause a change in PM? The mentality of the politicians here seems to be that they are all lined up and waiting for their turn to be PM. A BBC correspondent, after interviewing former PM Yasuo Fukuda commented on both the revolving door system of politics, and how each new PM hurries over to Washington the get a photo with the American President to show off to the grandchildren. Furthermore, I joked with someone some weeks ago about asking how many Prime Ministers he’d been in Japan for. My answer? Six; the infamous Koizumi was my first. How many calendar years had I been here? Six.

There will be campaigning in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) this weekend, where the various factions will reach a consensus as to who should be voted for on Monday.