“Human Rights” when enforced in Japan: Chest hair equals “sexual harassment”


Hi Blog. Here’s what happens when somebody in a position of authority (like a faceless boss at JR East) acts on what he or she katte ni considers “human rights”. Comment below article.


JR East links ‘naked festival’ posters to sexual harassment
Mainichi Shinbun January 8, 2008

One of the rejected posters for the Somin Festival in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture.
(Screen capture courtesy Japan Probe)

OSHU, Iwate — East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) has rejected calls to stick up posters promoting a local “naked festival,” saying there are many women who aren’t comfortable seeing men naked.

The Oshu Municipal Government had sought permission from the Morioka branch of JR East to display the posters advertising Kokuseki Temple’s Somin Festival at stations, but JR East said the posters could not be displayed unless the images were changed.

“As sexual harassment becomes more of a problem, the standards for displaying posters in public spaces are becoming stricter,” a representative of the Morioka branch of JR East explained. “It wasn’t just that it was out of line because there was nakedness; the pictures showed things that were particularly unpleasant for women, such as chest hair, and it was decided that showing them things they didn’t want to see was sexual harassment.”

In the festival, crowds of men wearing nothing but loincloths participate in scrambles using sacks called sominbukuro. The festival, which has continued for about 1,000 years, is held in the hope of warding off plagues and producing bumper crops. This year, it will be held between the evening of Feb. 13 and early Feb. 14.

The poster in question combines three photos, showing a close-up of a bearded man with a hairy chest, and men in the background wearing loincloths.

The city retouched some of the loincloths, but decided that it would be difficult to completely alter images as JR had requested. It has reportedly decided to decrease the number of posters by about 200 to 1,400, and will display them in the city and in the Tokyo metropolitan area instead.

Oshu Municipal Government official Yuzuru Sasaki said that efforts to liven up the festival would continue in spite of the setback.

“The number of tourists might drop, but we want to display the posters in the city and ask tourist facilities in the metropolitan area to display them to pump up the festival,” he said.

Click here for the original Japanese story

COMMENT: How silly. I have written in depth on how vague the notion of human rights is in Japan (yes, it tends to be vague everywhere in the world, but what the GOJ considers human rights in its surveys is especially confusing, even discriminatory in itself!). Under half-baked concepts (where it’s okay to discriminate against NJ but not okay to ignore allegedly oversensitive people who might swoon in shock at stray muna-ge), it’s no wonder some people go over the top and construe something like “chest hair” as “sexual harassment”.

And the issue is chest hair, not nudity in itself. If you look at the previous year’s (approved) poster for the same event:
(Screen capture courtesy Japan Probe)
you still have the same thing (it’s a festival celebrating male near-nakedness, after all)–fundoshi, asses–except no hairy chest in the foreground.

Better not ask even me to bare my semi-hirsute pecs, such as they are. And let’s see if JR East will enforce this on Sumo, and not allow broadcasts of matches on TVs on their premises. Same degree of nakedness (if not even more flesh)–and yes, before you say it–some sumo wrestlers have chest hair. Horrors!

There is a happy end to this, however. Thanks to the scoffing media coverage given this tempest in a teapot, this festival has gotten more publicity nationwide than ever before, and according to Sunday Japon January 13, 2007, they’re anticipating the highest level of attendance ever!

Mattaku mechakucha! Grow up, people. Chest hair isn’t, say, pubic hair–you might as well be offended by beards. Establish some concept of what real human rights are. That’s supposed to be the job of places like the absolutely useless MOJ Bureau of Human Rights…, and even if BOHR bothered to weigh in, they’ll only say, “we have no enforcement authority” and go back to soaking up tax monies for their own festivals. No wonder the public has trouble taking people who promote human rights seriously!

Sumo wrestlers, get your razors out! And there are some rikishi I would pay money to see get a Steve Carell-style body waxing… Debito in Sapporo

2 comments on ““Human Rights” when enforced in Japan: Chest hair equals “sexual harassment”

  • What the … those posters look more like they’re advertising some kind of gay S&M porn freak show not a festival! I, personally, am offending by the naked buttocks and dangly things in the cloth strap presented so obtrusively between the legs of the guy trying to join in the puppy-pile :O
    Oh, only in Tokyo … that’s ok then 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>