On Sunday, a special election will be held to fill a vacant seat in Japan’s House of Representatives. Denny Tamaki, the previous incumbent who represented Okinawa’s 3rd district, was elected governor of the prefecture following the death of former governor Takeshi Onaga in August of last year.
Two candidates are vying to take over Tamaki’s House of Representatives seat, 56-year-old Tomohiro Yara and 54-year-old Aiko Shimajiri. There are several differences between the two candidates. For example, Yara is a freelance journalist who’s running as an independent and has voiced his opposition to a proposal to relocate some of the U.S. military forces on Okinawa to Nago City, which is part of the 3rd district. Shimajiri, meanwhile, is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party and former Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs in the prime minister’s cabinet who’s in support of the relocation plan.
But the most obvious difference is that Yara is a man and Shimajiri is a woman, which makes it pretty obvious who the message is intended for on banners that have been found on the streets of Nago and Okinawa City.
Written in vertical text, the columns of the banners are meant to be read from right to left, and they say:
“Politics are impossible for women.
Women, go back to the kitchen.”
The banners appeared suddenly, as none were reported until after an April 12 order from the Prefecture Election Commission to remove over 670 illegally posted posters and banners with messages related to the upcoming election.
However, while it seems obvious that the misogynistic banners were put up by a Yara supporter (or at least a Shimajiri detractor), the Yara camp isn’t happy about the twisted form of support. “These banners are contemptuous towards women,” commented Yara campaign manager Shoichi Taira. Shimajiri obviously is upset as well, calling the banners “unforgivable” during a speech at a campaign rally this week.
"I heard about this first thing in the morning, and I’ve felt sick all day,” said one disappointed online commenter. “This is discriminatory towards women.”
More than one person also chimed in to point out that whoever wrote the banners’ text might not be the brightest guy, since the phrase written on them to mean “Politics are impossible for women,” “Josei ha seiji ha muri,” is grammatically incorrect, and should really be “Josei mo seiji ha muri.” And then there was the commenter who said:
“To whoever wrote these banners,
Women were not born in the kitchen, nor is it a hometown for them to go back to. However, please remember that all human beings, both men and women, were born from a woman.”
A poignant reminder, and hopefully one that people will take to heart when discussing politics.
Sources: Yahoo! Japan News/Okinawa Times, Okinawa Times
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