SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency column recounts former Prime Minister and professional bigot Mori Yoshiro’s tenure as Japan representative, and the mystery behind Japan’s consistent waste of talent in favor of hopelessly incompetent and elitist old men. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities 19: Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 15, 2021
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

SNA (Tokyo) — When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…
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Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

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22 comments on “SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

  • “Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.’
    Actually, this is par for the course. I heard (but cant find source now, sorry) that lonng ago Japan wanted to join the European Economic Community. They identify as European so perhaps Kono identifies as a woman or is a “feministo” (pro woman, ie holds doors open for women, is “nice” to women in the Japanese sense of “feminist”)

    More shocking examples of outrageous J sexism at https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/06/5fbad0a24182-feature-feminist-scholar-calls-japans-gender-problem-human-disaster.html

    ==================
    DEBITO REPLIES:
    — Okay. But bear in mind that Ueno Chizuko is exclusively focussed on women’s issues. Not on other minority issues. Recall this:

    “Ueno Chizuko, fabled feminist Sociology Prof. Emeritus at Tokyo U, argues in newspaper column that Japan will never accept foreigners, and Japanese should just decline into poverty together. Geriatrically rigid rigor. Debito.org, February 13, 2017”
    http://www.debito.org/?p=14486

    Bear this in mind as you read the article below. She will not be advocating on issues germane to Debito.org. — Debito
    ==================

    Feminist scholar calls Japan’s gender problem “human disaster”
    By Yuka Nakao, KYODO NEWS – Jun 22, 2019

    After several high-profile incidents in recent years highlighted Japan’s problems with sexism, a Japanese women’s studies pioneer has been presented a special recognition from Finland, a leading country in promoting gender equality.

    Chizuko Ueno, a sociologist and a prominent feminist figure in Japan, was one of the first 16 recipients from around the world to receive the Han Honours. She was acknowledged for her “tirelessly and fearlessly” work toward gender equality, according to the Finland Promotion Board.

    Through her research, books and activities, Ueno has continuously provoked debates in issues including gender discrimination and sexual violence.

    In April, Ueno gave an impassioned and unfiltered speech at the University of Tokyo matriculation ceremony, in which she said the nation’s top university is not immune from gender problems and, like any major institution, reflects society’s tendency to discriminate against women.

    The 70-year-old scholar, who is also a chief director of NPO Women’s Action Network, pointed out that less than 20 percent of students entering the University of Tokyo are female. This is despite there being plentiful evidence that female applicants have higher standard scores than their male competitors.

    Ueno said one reason for the discrepancy is the gender discrimination that is inherent in the education investment decisions made by Japanese parents. Traditionally, sons are expected to attend university while daughters will often be enrolled in junior colleges.

    Even Todai female students feel compelled to conform to Japanese social norms. Ueno gave the example of such students hiding the fact that they were able to enter the prestigious institution in order not to show up male students from other universities, but when the roles are reversed, male students are happy to boast.

    She also referred to a criminal case in which five male students sexually abused a female student that attended a private university. One of the accused said during his court hearing that he had looked down on women because they are “stupid.”

    Ueno reminded newly enrolled students who prevailed against their peers in the fierce entrance exams that they can thank their good circumstances as much as their hard work for them getting to where they are. She said they were lucky to have people around them who encouraged them, supported them, lent a helping hand, and recognized their accomplishments.

    “There are people whose drive is dampened even before they try because of negative comments or thoughts like ‘You won’t succeed no matter what’ or ‘After all, nobody believes in me,'” she said. “I hope you won’t focus your efforts only to win the game for yourself.”

    “I hope you will use your gifted talents and favorable environment to help those who are less fortunate, and do not denigrate them. And I hope you live your life by accepting who you are even with your weaknesses and by helping and supporting each other,” she continued.

    The scholar told Kyodo News that, at first, she thought of declining the offer to give the speech.

    After considering the social situation in Japan and learning that there were people in the university who worked hard to nominate her, she decided to go ahead.

    Ueno said no one tried to intervene in or censor her speech, in which, when explaining women’s studies, she covered topics like what women used before tampons and sanitary napkins were ubiquitous, as well as the plight of sexual minorities in Japan.

    “I appreciate the trust the university administration placed in me,” she said.

    The scholar said discrimination against women in Japan is the consequence of political mistakes in the past decades, and thus “a human disaster.”

    As globalization changed the world, all societies looked to bring women into the labor market, requiring the domestic burden they traditionally carried to be transferred.

    While Northern Europe and North America relied on care service in the public sector or cheap labor in the market, countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece, South Korea and Japan looked to a strong male breadwinner model.

    The model, in which men earn a living and women tended to domestic and care duties, “privatized” unpaid work in which grandmothers were called upon to care for younger family members, Ueno said.

    “But now, none of these options work in Japan,” she said, adding that “what has happened is that gender has become something functionally equivalent to race or class in other societies.”

    The aftermath of a political decision manifested in the fertility rate, Ueno said.

    Countries with a male breadwinner model have the lowest fertility rate, with Japan at 1.42 as of 2018 — well below the 2.07 necessary to sustain the population. The rate figure represents the average number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime.

    Although Japan’s equal employment opportunity law came into force in 1986, women’s double burden of work and family care has not changed. Combined with the easing of a series of labor regulations, the number of irregular workers increased dramatically.

    According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 56.8 percent of female workers were in irregular employment as of January 2019, more than twice the percentage as male workers.

    But with neo-liberalism pushing “self-determinism and self- responsibility” as a principle, the most socially vulnerable were made to believe that they are at fault for efforts that fail to pay off, while the people with the most advantages believe they owe their success solely to their own abilities, Ueno explained.

    “This is what I’ve been saying is wrong,” she said.

    Although it is hard to change this trajectory immediately, Ueno says there are changes afoot.

    “It’s not true that the #MeToo movement did not spread in Japan,” Ueno said, pointing to women who took to the streets to denounce Finance Minister Taro Aso after his comments that seemed to make light of an alleged case of sexual harassment by then-Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda.

    A man alleged to be Fukuda can be heard asking in an audio clip released by the Shukan Shincho magazine, “Can I give you a hug?” and “Can I touch your breasts?” Fukuda stepped down after the accusations but has continued to deny them.

    Aso, a 78-year-old former prime minister, came under fire after saying that there is “no such thing as a sexual harassment charge.”

    “It’s not the same as charges of murder or sexual assault,” he told reporters. But in Japan, perpetrators of sexual harassment can be charged with crimes, including sexual assault, rape, or libel.

    The protesters included women lining the sidewalk in front of the Finance Ministry building in Tokyo holding signs reading “We won’t condone sexual harassment” and “#WithYou” in a show of solidarity with victims of sexual abuse.

    Similar protests, organized via social media by women’s rights activists, were held in Kyoto and Sapporo.

    Another significant shift is coming from older Japanese women apologizing to younger women for failing to raise their voices against sexual abuse in the past.

    In an online edition of magazine Hon no Mado, Kyoko Nakajima, a writer in her 50s, lamented that she had not been more vocal when journalist Shiori Ito, born in 1989, shocked the country by alleging a high-profile journalist had raped her, only to suffer an intense public backlash.

    “If our generation had raised our voices, society might have changed, even a little,” Nakajima reportedly told Ito. “I am really sorry for (leaving) the situation where you had to persevere on your own.”

    “There are no young women now who think men are better than them,” Ueno said. “The problem lies in society, whether it is ready for them or not.”

    After the matriculation ceremony, the University of Tokyo newspaper conducted an online questionnaire and received answers from 4,921 people, including 603 students.

    According to the reports, 61.7 percent of the University of Tokyo students were in favor of the speech, while 87.5 percent of people outside the university valued it. Among the students, 82.2 percent of women appreciated the speech, while 53.1 percent of men responded positively.

    “As a graduate of a public high school in a rural region, I feel that one’s environment hugely impacts their further education,” a male fourth-year law student wrote when explaining why he appreciated Ueno’s speech.

    “I think those of us who successfully entered the University of Tokyo for some reason, have to bear a responsibility to make society better in any way.”

    Many respondents reserved judgment, and those who disapproved of the speech argued that Ueno’s interpretation was arbitrary or unsuitable for a celebratory occasion, the report said.

    But one third-year female arts and sciences student said the speech had a massive impact.

    “I think the speech described well the situation of female students in the university as well as women and minorities in society,” she wrote.

    Jun 22, 2019 | KYODO NEWS
    ENDS

    Reply
  • ” It’s also a problem within companies and top-down organization structures in Japanese society,” she told Reuters.
    “It is a problem when people cannot speak up when someone superior says something outdated. We want to take this opportunity to change that through our petition so that people can speak up more and our society will change for the better.”

    https://japantoday.com/category/national/More-than-110-000-sign-petition-against-Mori-after-sexist-comments

    I do fear for her safety though. She might be silenced.

    Reply
  • More Mori grist. Courtesy of DMN. Debito

    Japan’s Olympic athletes told to sing anthem loud or be declared unworthy
    Former prime minister tells Rio athletes they ‘can’t consider yourselves representatives of Japan’ if they just mouth words on the podium
    Justin McCurry in Tokyo
    The Grauniad, Mon 4 Jul 2016
    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jul/04/japan-rio-olympic-athletes-told-sing-anthem-loud-or-unworthy-yoshiro-mori

    As rousing motivational speeches go, it left a lot to be desired. Standing before 300 Japanese athletes about to leave for the Rio Olympics, the head of the organising committee for the Tokyo Games in 2020 issued a stark warning: sing the national anthem with gusto, or consider yourselves unfit to represent your country.

    Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister with a history of gaffes, launched his tirade on Sunday just after the athletes delivered an apparently lacklustre rendition of Kimigayo, Japan’s national anthem.

    “Why can’t you all sing the national anthem together?” the 78-year-old Mori asked, as the athletes behind him looked on with glum expressions.

    Some reports pointed out that the anthem had been billed as a solo performance by a singer from the self-defence forces.

    Mori, though, recalled that members of the Japanese women’s football team who won the 2011 World Cup were “in floods of tears” when they sang Kimigayo, as were Ayumu Goromaru and his teammates during last year’s rugby World Cup.

    “It’s not just a case of mouthing the words,” Mori said. “If you get to stand on the winners’ podium, sing the national anthem with a loud voice.

    “If you won’t sing the national anthem, then you can’t consider yourselves representatives of Japan – that’s what I want to say to you.”

    Sunday was not the first time Mori has had harsh words for Japan’s athletes. During the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, he singled out the popular figure skater Mao Asada for criticism after she failed to execute a triple axel during her short programme. “That girl, she’s always falling at a critical moments,” he said.

    He also questioned the ability of Chris and Cathy Reed, who were born in the US but represented Japan in the ice dance competition. “They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they’re not good enough for the US Olympic team, we include these naturalised citizens in our team.”

    Mori’s outburst came as Japanese Olympic officials played up the country’s chances of improving on their performance in London, where they won a record 38 medals, including seven golds.

    They have set a target of between 20 and 33 gold medals in Tokyo, and are hoping a decent showing in Rio will provide the momentum they need.

    “I really feel the onus is on me. I want us to win as many medals as possible,” the delegation’s general coach, Yuji Takada, said at the sendoff in Tokyo, which was attended by 10,000 well-wishers.

    Takada said Japan was aiming for 14 to 30 medals in Rio, with golds coming in judo, gymnastics, swimming and wrestling, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

    Mori, a close friend of the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, became one of Japan’s most unpopular postwar leaders during his year in office, with his support levels at one point dropping to below 20%.

    In 2000, he claimed that Japan was a “divine nation with the emperor at its core”, in comments that were criticised as a throwback to the country’s militarist past, when the emperor was considered a living god.

    The following year, Mori continued playing a round of golf for two hours after being told that a Japanese fishing vessel crewed by high school students had been involved in a collision with a US submarine near Hawaii. Nine people, including four students, died in the accident.
    ENDS

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    In response to Mori’s resignation, LDP old-man club general Toshihiro Nikai proposed that they are planning to let female members participate in the senior meetings, on condition that they will remain silent. It well explains their worldview that cannot see beyond their nose. Their brains are fossilized while their mental body have been immobilized with their mindset stuck in Japan of 1821.
    https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASP2J5D1NP2JUTFK01H.html?ref=tw_asahi

    Reply
    • This is unbelievable. Apart from the sheer stupidity and tone-deafness of such a proposal, it also shows how these oyajis think ‘equality’ works. To them, women (and minorities) are allowed to participate in anything not because of a right to self-determination but thanks to the kind permission of the wise men in power.

      Reply
      • Frankly I think it means that the women are too smart and they cannot deal with it. Many female lawmakers dress up in white and ask pointed questions in the diet sessions. Ren Ho and others like the one from Osaka. In other news I heard that Mori wants to stay on as an advisor for the JOC.

        Reply
      • for sure. Said before, “I am フェミニスト ” said by a Japanese male means he is pro woman, ie nice to them, holding doors open, “ladies first” etc.
        Top down paternalist. Privileges not rights, not unlike the CCP in China but I digress.

        Reply
      • BBC and CNN picked up on this yesterday, rehashed the Mori scandal, Japan’s low gender equality ranking, and BBC talked about the female suicide rate (much better dot-joining than their online article).
        It wasn’t a great look for Japan.

        Reply
  • Didn’t Mori’s replacement Hashimoto get accused of sexual harassment a few years ago? It’s almost as if the JOC is looking for bad publicity!

    — Let’s have a source for that, please.

    Reply
    • ‘ Hashimoto addressed media questions about an incident in 2014 when a magazine ran photographs of her making apparently unwanted advances towards a figure skater, Daisuke Takahashi, during a party after the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

      “Both then and now, I deeply regret my behaviour,” she said.

      Hashimoto denied any wrongdoing at the time, claiming she had simply shown Takahashi the same affection she would other athletes, who often “hug and kiss each other very naturally”. But she added: “If this invited misunderstanding from other people, I regret it and think I should be careful.”’

      https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/feb/18/tokyo-2020-japan-to-appoint-olympic-seiko-hashimoto-sexism-row

      ‘ Upper House member and Japanese Olympic Committee official Seiko Hashimoto on Saturday apologized for trouble caused by a report which claimed she sexually harassed Vancouver Olympic figure skating bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi.’

      https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/08/23/olympics/joc-official-hashimoto-issues-apology-unflattering-magazine-report-published/

      Reply
      • Since Naomi Osaka is Japanese, instead of gushing over how great it is to appoint Hashimoto because she’s a woman, surely she should be perplexed and dumbfounded by such blatant lies as ‘its common for Japanese athletes to kiss and hug each other’ and ‘Hashimoto likes to hug because she’s very manly’? I’ve NEVER seen Japanese men hug other Japanese men.
        If you’ve lived in Japan, this should instantly peg out your BS meter at MAX.
        Osaka must be astounded at this blatant lie, as a Japanese.
        (And yeah, I keep bringing her up because she keeps giving Japan a pass).

        Reply
      • CNN was interviewing Tomomi Inada yesterday about the plight of female underrepresentation, completely neglected to point out that all the LDP women are right wing loons who have links to Nazi groups on the NPA’s watch lists, supported ethnic cleansing in Peru, and/or spout anti-NJ rubbish.
        Just ‘because they are women’ isn’t much of an improvement.

        Reply
        • @Jim

          Really? All LDP women have links to nazi groups?

          Could I get a summary or a link to some reading material?

          Would be much obliged.

          Reply
        • Reminds me of an article I saw a few days ago in which Koike said that Mori’s comments were unacceptable because the Olympics are supposed to be about tolerance and diversity. That’s the same fascist Koike who’s a member of Nippon Kaigi and refused to issue a permit to Zainichi Koreans so that they could hold a yearly ceremony in front of the memorial to the massacre. She also said that whether a massacre occurred is a matter of historical debate. It’s always amazing how western media always portrays these Japanese politicians as “conservative”. They’re not conservatives, they’re literal fascist. Just imagine the mayor of Berlin saying that whether the holocaust happend is a matter of historical debate. Not only would he immediately be thrown out of office, he would go to jail for a comment like that. In Japan such denialism is completely normalized though.

          Reply
          • Yes I wonder if what Koike said could be qualified as hate speech. I used to work at a university in Tokyo with a professor who wrote an article about Nanking and what happened to the Chinese was not that bad. What kind of academic research was that, I thought. Shudo Higashinakano, who wrote that the rape of Nanking was a hoax.

  • Question, what’s today’s top news?

    Is it;
    A) Fukushima reactor vessels damaged by 2011 quake damaged and leaking even further by last weeks 7.1 shock.

    B) Japan’s daily reported Covid cases dropping like a stone despite death rates remaining constant and hospitals still ‘overstretched’.

    C) Shock! Dangerous Gaijin covid vaccine giving some unique Japanese recipients ‘hives’.

    D) Bureaucrats forced to resign over wining and dining PM Suga’s son.

    Answer, none of the above! The MOST important news in Japan today is that one American beat another American playing tennis in Australia.

    Reply

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