politics

Kennedy sends letter of support to heckled assemblywoman

22 Comments

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy has sent a letter of support to Ayaka Shiomura, the Tokyo assemblywoman who was recently subjected to sexist jeers from male assembly members during a debate.

On June 18, opposition Your Party member Shiomura, 35, was questioning senior figures in the city administration on plans to help current and future mothers when the abuse erupted from seats occupied by members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP).

A few days later, LDP lawmaker Akihiro Suzuki, 51, admitted being one of the hecklers and apologized to Shiomura at a news conference, but the LDP-dominated assembly voted down a resolution to find out who else yelled out at Shiomura.

Once the incident got out, it was picked up by international media as a typical example of how far women still have to go to be considered equals in modern Japan.

Japanese media reported Thursday that the contents of the letter sent by Kennedy were of a personal nature. However, Shiomura stated that Kennedy offered words of encouragement and support during the trying time, Sankei Shimbun reported.

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22 Comments
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She shouldn't be interfering in domestic politics. and anyway what has this empty suit done of any value since she started work?

-21 ( +6 / -28 )

this isn't feudal japan where women are expected to stare at the floor. I wouldn't put up with that nonsense from any man so why should she? she is in government and as part of a democratic government, she's supposed to discuss issues in the country. if you want to be a woman hater, you should move to india or the middle east where women are seen and treated as nothing but crap. you'd fit right in with them and no doubt they'd welcome you since you think and act like they do.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Wakarimasen

Japanese media reported Thursday that the contents of the letter sent by Kennedy were of a personal nature

Is the ambassador not suppose to talk to any politicians?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@waka its a letter of support, anybody who objects is just showing supporting the chauvinist bureaucrats.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

How nice. So who is handling the heavy work of dealing with the Japan/SKorea/NKorea/China/US conflicts? We are sleep walking into WWIII.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

It is nice to know the lady Ambassador sent support letter to Japanese lady politician who was heckled. WW III? She is a diplomat, not US elected Comgree member or President of USA. She is doing fine visiting key areas in Japan, She even went to Okinawa.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Glad this happened. Keep it in the news, because most of Japanese news had started to move on already. It seems that a blabbering child-like politician is more newsworthy than uncovering the blatant sexism in government.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

A woman sending a letter of support to an other woman who has endured sexual harassment, is OK! Unless your thinking is sexist. Japan is decades behind the modern world. Or the rest of the world does not understand Japan's unique culture.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Wow. Great that she acted so fast.....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This incident is yet another international embarrassment for Japan.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

That'll do the trick. The US gubmnt is so fortunate to know how to deal with foreign relations. A letter. And if that doesn't make everything better, you'll know what comes next. A really really strong letter directly to the perpetrator. He'll be begging for mercy and forgiveness. And all that international respect will follow.

It.works.every.time.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

If Caroline speaks Japanese as a second language, then she gets big credit for just that. So, did she write her note in Japanese?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

She shouldn't be interfering in domestic politics. and anyway what has this empty suit done of any value since she started work?

The nature of the comments made to the assemblywoman was not political, so to take a position against them (if that's even what Kennedy did) isn't interfering in politics. The principle of non-discrimination has both official and legal support, so it is hardly controversial that people might take issue with what was said to Shiomura.

I rather prefer US ambassadors to get involved with matters like this than really interfering, such as when one of Kennedy's predecessors publicly expressed the opinion, when the rule was introduced, that instead of fingerprinting foreigners on entry to Japan by taking prints from just two fingers, they should take all ten. That's interference.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Letter of support. Now that is what we need in this world. Show kindness to anybody. Simple as that, why don't you get it?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The heckled assembly women issue has been blown out to the RED sea nothing will become of it! Its a dead cold issue. When he bowed that was the end of it!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

but the LDP-dominated assembly voted down a resolution to find out who else yelled out at Shiomura.

This statement simply reinforces what most folks have known for years -- Japan is ruled by a bunch of backward thinking, old, male chauvinists -- and gutless ones at that. Bunch of cockroachs that hide from the light. By the way, how many female foreign ambassadors does Japan have?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Dre HandL Caroline knows Japanese language. She knows how to play :Hyaku-Nin Issu: in Jan. 1. It does not matter she wrote in English or Japanese. Issue is that an lady diplomat from USA found out the heckler stories and personally sent her letter. It is important that gaijin/s opinions can be heard in Japan. Otherwise, Japanese socieyy will not be changed. As for victim, she knows American English and American life. She graduated from Community College of Philadelphia. when she was younger. Both of them do not need a translator.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Powerful symbolism from a highly regarded source. This is a better use of her political capital, rather than wading into dolphins.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Wakarimasen (this name is OH so accurate!),

She shouldn't be interfering in domestic politics. and anyway what has this empty suit done of any value since she started work?

So sexually harassing someone is now classified as "domestic politics" that can be interfered with simply by sending a letter of support to the one being sexually harassed... and you think doing so is a BAD thing?! Here's at least ONE thing the Ambassador has done since she took the post - she has revealed that you're just as ignorant as Suzuki is.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This wasn't a friendly note from an ambassador to a politician. It was a message from the U.S. government to the Japanese government: "We're not impressed with your record on women's rights."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japanese media reported Thursday that the contents of the letter sent by Kennedy were of a personal nature. However, Shiomura stated that Kennedy offered words of encouragement and support during the trying time, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Which then gets "interpreted" as:

This wasn't a friendly note from an ambassador to a politician. It was a message from the U.S. government to the Japanese government: "We're not impressed with your record on women's rights."

Interesting. The U.S. Embassy didn't announce the contents of the letter and even Ms. Shiomura didn't quote directly from the letter. I guess the U.S. then assumes that the Japanese government reads all the personal mail of Tokyo Metropolitan Assemblymen and Assemblywomen? How else would the Japanese government receive ANY message from the U.S. via this letter? What an inefficient method of delivering a message to a foreign government!

Or perhaps the "interpretation" was not based on any facts, whatsoever?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just learning that Ms Kennedy sent a letter to Shiomurta must be heart warming in Japan.

BTW, Even Ms., Kennedy is from one of the most wealthy USA family, there has never been gossip stories in USA since she was born. BTW. USA does not use yen in which througou wrote. Dollars and Cents are only used. Not Yen. /

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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