Yoshiko Hayashi says many female journalists in Japan find it difficult to discuss their experiences of discrimination and sexual harassment. Photo: AFP
national

Female journalists in Japan join forces to fight sexual harassment

28 Comments
By Miwa Suzuki

Female journalists in Japan said Tuesday they were teaming up to fight sexual harassment in the media, believed to be widespread in a country where the #MeToo movement has been slow to take off.

A total of 86 women journalists have come together to form the Women in Media Network Japan (WiMN) to expose harassment and abuse, said Yoshiko Hayashi, a freelancer who formerly worked at the mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun.

"Unfortunately, discrimination against women and sexual harassment still exist among the people and entities we cover," she said, reading a statement from the group on its establishment.

"Many women in journalism felt it difficult to raise their voice out of embarrassment and fears that it would destroy the relationship with their contacts," she added. "We were the people whose voices were unheard."

The issue hit the headlines recently after the finance ministry admitted its top bureaucrat harassed a female reporter in an incident believed to be the tip of iceberg.

The reporter, with Japan's TV Asahi, blew the whistle and Hayashi said the group had been encouraged by her refusal to suffer in silence.

"We are resolved that now is the time to eradicate sexual harassment and any other human rights infringement," Hayashi said.

The ministry came under fire for its handling of the allegations against Junichi Fukuda, who stepped down over the reporter's claim but continues to deny wrongdoing.

His retirement package was eventually reduced as a punishment, but when reports of Fukuda's alleged misconduct first emerged in a weekly magazine, Finance Minister Taro Aso appeared to dismiss them, saying he had discussed the issue with his top bureaucrat and had no plans to investigate.

An uproar over the claims ensued, and the ministry was forced to backtrack, though it earned additional criticism for calling on affected women to come forward to its lawyers.

TV Asahi, one of the nation's major networks, publicly acknowledged one of its reporters was the victim and that her boss had failed to act when she initially complained about the harassment.

Aso has voiced his concern over "Fukuda's human rights" in the midst of accusations and said there is no such criminal charge as sexual harassment.

He has also said that the bureaucrat fell victim to a "honey trap" by the female reporter though he later retracted the remark.

The scandal and the ministry's perceived mishandling of the allegations have provoked a public outcry leading some to suggest the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment was finally impacting Japan.

It has also provided an additional headache for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose government is already under fire over two cronyism scandals, one of which involves the scrubbing of documents by the finance ministry.

Abe has made increasing female participation in the workforce a key plank of his economic policies, as Japan struggles with a labour shortage.

Japan ranked bottom among G7 countries in the World Economic Forum's latest "Global Gender Gap Report", coming 114th worldwide.

It scored poorly on women's participation in the economy and political involvement.

© 2018 AFP

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.


28 Comments
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believed to be widespread ...

Understatement of the year!

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Unfortunately, discrimination against women and sexual harassment still exist among the people and entities we cover," she said, reading a statement from the group on its establishment.

Bringing the issue into the spotlight is fine, but the roots of the problem go so much deeper than just the "entities we cover".

Women in this country will never be truly "equal" and free from harassment until society as a whole, women included, get involved in educating EVERYONE about this issue. Sadly even THAT won't work, as long as there are snacks, cabarets, and other businesses that go directly against the ideas that she and others are fighting for here.

The very same guys that she and her colleagues work with, will pay lip service to her demands, and then go out the very same night, and try to cop a feel off of some girl working at a snack!

11 ( +16 / -5 )

another copy the US movement, have fun with it

-11 ( +7 / -18 )

This is getting old already....

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

About damn time.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

discrimination against women and sexual harassment

Just would like to note, that these are two very very distinct issues and problems and cannot come under the same scrutiny.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

For starters, the TV networks can stop airing programs promoting the idea of 'joshi ana' ('female announcers'), as if women need to look good and make men happy (and perhaps marry a pro baseball player) in order to succeed. But I don't see them stopping. It's too profitable for the networks.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

@Dango Bong = you are so right !

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

As their bosses are male, it wont be news

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Aso has voiced his concern over "Fukuda's human rights" in the midst of accusations and said there is no such criminal charge as sexual harassment.

He has also said that the bureaucrat fell victim to a "honey trap" by the female reporter though he later retracted the remark.

The scandal and the ministry's perceived mishandling of the allegations have provoked a public outcry leading some to suggest the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment was finally impacting Japan.

Former prime minister Aso and Harvey Weinstein would get along famously.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The key plank of female participation in the workforce should be simply saying: EQUALITY. This #MeToo movement against opposite gender is pointless.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Equality doesn’t work anymore because that word has been coopted to mean “I’m only equal if I get MORE than others by getting special treatment”. No one wants just “equality”.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

that word has been coopted to mean “I’m only equal if I get MORE than others by getting special treatment”.

No, no one is asking for that. That's just more manufactured outrage.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Cultural change is always slow, but it's got to start somewhere...

The awkward elephant in the room that is created after the #MeToo movement has to happen before change can occur. It's not unique to any one country. Men and women will tiptoe around each other at first, as they are forced to think about the consequences of what they say or do. Once they get used to having to think before they speak or act, the awkwardness will fade.

Also, while many use the phrase, "men will be men", to accept crude behavior, it's not just women that are often uncomfortable with it. There are many men that do not feel comfortable hearing crude jokes or seeing sexualized imagery and the like. The #MeToo movement isn't just for women, it's for everyone.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

"believed to be widespread in a country where the #MeToo movement has been slow to take off."

Does whoever wrote this know anything about Japan?  Chance of #MeToo "taking off" here is almost zero.  and while I think the level of misogyny and general depiction of women in media is not great, not sure #MeToo is the best way to solve that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Also, while many use the phrase, "men will be men", to accept crude behavior, 

I do believe the phrase is "boys will be boys" and if it were boys, maybe it would be easier to change.

However, true MEN do not harass women!

7 ( +10 / -3 )

OK I agree on ending harassment of any kind.

But would also kindly like to ask women to stop using their feminine charms to get their way etc, surely you cant have it both ways!

Should be interesting to hear any responses to this.....

0 ( +6 / -6 )

This is getting old already.... what is it with men and the dislike of women being treated equally, they do after all account for more than half the population in many countries, without them the human race is doomed. egos , superiority/inferiority complexes which is it !? humans are intelligent creatures and this intelligence should have evolved us out of the alpha male cave man mentality of our ancestors.

However, true MEN do not harass women! correct and true men dont feel thretened by women with power or women in positions that tell men what to do.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

No one wants just “equality”. correct many men what to keep women where they are now as subordinates being told by a man what to do. pathetic little boys the lot.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

But would also kindly like to ask women to stop using their feminine charms to get their way

Flirting by women to make a business deal happen is unprofessional... unless he's into it.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Clearly SL women now using their sexuality need to be called out as well as the men, equality and all......don't you think!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"Japan ranked bottom among G7 countries in the World Economic Forum's latest "Global Gender Gap Report", coming 114th worldwide." Speaks volumes, doesn't it? Too bad 70 year old male politicians don't hear very well...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What you are actually looking for is fairness not equality.

http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-fairness-more-important-than-equality

“just like a kid, a teenager, an adult watching games over the fence, and they all had one chair to hold. This is equality.

But what happens to the kid? 

The kid can't see the games then. So to make it fair, the kid stands on 2 chairs, the teenager needs one chair, and the adult needs none.

There is absolutely no need for equality, it's not even possible.”

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

So for the kid to get equality (being able to see the game), he actually both needs and receives “more” than others.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sometimes, Japanese women insult men when they find they are weak "You are not men!" We are expected to behave manly stronger than women. I was insulted often.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

We are expected to behave manly stronger than women.

It’s an extension of the senpai / kohai culture reaching into male/female relationships. Power play is one of the more tiresome aspects of Japanese social interactions.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Clearly SL women now using their sexuality need to be called out as well as the men, equality and all......don't you think!

No because for many of the women who use their sexuality to gain their idea of equality, they are just using the weapons they have to get ahead.

Men created the environment that forced them, but any woman, with integrity wont go that route because they have pride in themselves and don'T need to be "sexual" to get ahead!

Sometimes, Japanese women insult men when they find they are weak "You are not men!" We are expected to behave manly stronger than women. I was insulted often.

When far too many men in this country are fantasizing about teenage girls, or younger, one can not even begin to blame the women for getting upset when the men act immature and like little prepubescent boys drooling over a picture of a semi-clad female!

Being a man means more than just being able to open the pickle jar!

I'm sorry but if you felt insulted, that's on you to figure out what the problem, perceived or otherwise, actually is.

Almost all the Japanese women I know would NEVER say something like that unless they were given a good reason to in the first place. Not to mention the fact that they definitely would not insult you to you, in your face. Maybe behind your back where you won't hear about it, but never to your face,.

Like it or not, you need to take a look in the mirror and figure why you felt you were insulted!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is absolutely no need for equality, it's not even possible.” yet you do battle every day trying to get the equality/respect in media/public treatment that Trump and his supports think they deserve. equality is most defiantly possible but like many thing it needs to be earned. Being disrespectful and intolerant of others certainly isnt the way to go about it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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