politics

Leadership does nothing despite sexual harassment of assembly member

44 Comments
By Preston Phro

Following the sexual harassment last week of a Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman, the story has swept rapidly across Japan and produced an online petition with over 75,000 signatures.

While giving a speech explaining the need for support for pregnant women and working mothers in general, 35-year-old assemblywoman Ayaka Shiomura, a member of the Minna no To party, was verbally harassed by two as-yet-unidentified men, who shouted “Before talking about that, why don’t you hurry up and get married?” and “Can’t you have babies?” And if the harassment wasn’t bad enough, Shiomura also had to endure the laughter of other assemblymen.

While Shiomura did an admirable job of finishing her speech in the face of the sexist jeering, a blog post by Shun Otokita revealed that the assemblywoman had been understandably upset by the harassment. The blog post, along with a tweet by Shiomura herself, set off an online furor which has only intensified in the past few days. Otokita, a fellow Minna no To party member who was in attendance at the meeting, started his post by writing, “First of all, I need to say, I am angry. Incredibly.” The post then goes on to describe the events before deriding politicians who claim to support women on the campaign trail but continue to make sexist remarks in the assembly hall. Otokita adds, “Surely these are the honest thoughts of many of the old, conservative male politicians.”

Otokita then went on to explain that when all the Minna no To members (excluding the upset Shiomura) confronted the group they suspected of the sexual harassment, the only response they got was: “What’s your proof that one of our members said it?” and “Since it wasn’t an official speech in the assembly, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Following this, Reiko Ueda, another Minna no To member, also made a blog post about the meeting about 30 minutes after Otokita, explaining the situation further. It turns out that this was Shiomura’s first time appearing before the assembly during general questioning, which should have made it an exciting day for her. Instead, the assemblywoman found herself in tears after the harassment. Ueda posted another blog post on the 20 explaining how she and Shiomura had gone together to submit a request for punishment.

The request specifically asked that the persons who made the comments be punished, but unfortunately the men remain unidentified. While the assembly does not have specific rules against heckling during meetings, there is a bylaw stipulating that if an assemblymember is insulted by another member during a meeting, the insulted party can request a punishment of the offender. However, in such cases, a specific person must be named, and so Shiomura’s request was immediately denied.

However, the story isn’t over yet. A Change.org petition (Japanese only) has appeared, asking the LDP to identify the member who made the sexist remarks so that he can be appropriately punished. Even though over 75,000 people have signed in agreement, it’s hard to say if anything will come of it. LDP Secretary-General Osamu Yoshiwara, who has been in hot water a number of times for his own sexist remarks and who was the one to deny Shiomura’s request for punishment, claims not to have heard any of the comments and simply responded to the situation by asking assembly members to avoid saying rude things.

What will happen next remains unclear. As long as the party members who made the comments remain anonymous, there’s little the Minna no To or Shiomura can do, and so far it seems unlikely that those who know their identity will give up their name. With an ever-growing list of people showing support for Shiomura, there’s a possibility that the governor might take actual action, but we wouldn’t count on it.

Sources: Change.org, Blogos, MNS Sankei

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- ‘Power harrassment’ in Japan’s police force blamed for officer’s suicide -- LDP still promises to ‘re-examine’ historical textbooks, possibly replace sensitive words -- Japanese blogger calls for party to celebrate Hitler’s birthday, whines when criticized

© RocketNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


44 Comments
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Oh, please! While the petition by Change.org is admirable and just, does anyone honestly believe anything will come of it from the LDP? They'll just completely ignore it. It'll take extreme international shaming and pressure for the men to be identified and anything be done about their behaviour, but the government has already succeeded in buying it's time for this to largely be forgotten.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Rotten people in politics... the "funny" guy who said that and the others (because there were others) should come out... if they were gentlemen...or at least men.

But no... they are old male politicians and the only way to make them come out is to make LDP tremble.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

As expected of LDP, they are doing what they do best, dodging and denying their involvement. The funniest thing I found from this article, it seems like almost every members in LDP seemed to have been in hot water for their sexist talk one way or another. They all need choke chains.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Girls, be ambitious. Take the next train to Narita. My wife doesn't get angry at this kind of story anymore. She uses them as examples of why I've always been keener on Japan than her. This will slide off the pages in a few days and those responsible will probably still be wondering what all the fuss was about.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

just old men living in the past,,,,

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Where are the 'Patriotic Wives'?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

As to be expected from these bafoons. Perhaps a good idea to disband the LDP as well.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Where is Akie Abe?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Leadership does nothing? That's Leadership?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

At least we now know who sexually harassed her according to the news.

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140623-00000063-jij-pol

4 ( +4 / -0 )

confronted the group they suspected of the sexual harassment, the only response they got was: “What’s your proof that one of our members said it?” and “Since it wasn’t an official speech in the assembly, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Well said gents! It is you and your likeminded cronies that are keeping Japan a generation behind the rest of the modern world. Losers!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

NEWS ALERT

NNN Channel 4 just reported that one LDP member has come forward and admitted to making the first remark but when asked if he made the others he denied doing so.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Could it be that this group of fools, ranging from the putz(putzes) who said these sad things to the morons who say it can't be proved, help, etc., have inadvertently done Japan a favor by pointing out that another reason for the falling birthrate is that there appears to be a lack of decent men with whom to create children?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

What an absolute disgrace. The LDP leadership starting with Abe should prove they are serious about improving the status of women in this country and force the LDP members responsible to identify themselves for appropriate disciplinary action. Otherwise all the recent "improving the status of women" talk is just worthless BS. Media should not let this one go either,,if it was a DPJ member that made similar remarks when DPJ was in power there would be no end to it until they would be forced to resign. Just shows how much control LDP has over the amakudari run media here.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

To take the contrarian view, all politicians are crooked, including the attractive female ones. They don't produce anything, and live off taxes which are taken by force under the threat of punishment.

I say if you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. Instead of breaking down, she could have thrown back, but she didn't.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The way Japanese politicians act and are treated, the mentality is of an untouchable elite. I think that is a big difference from the US where I/we consider politicians parasitic servants of the people who we readily and regularly throw out like the trash.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Haha...you expect LDP to do anything...I find it fascinating that people expect the bastard will be punished. First Japan is a society that look down at women. Can you find any Japanese woman leader in not only politics but also business? Second LDP is busy dodging making hard choices to improve her economy by picking fight with China and Korea. I said let it be....LDP will bring down Japan to abyss...China will be the top nation in Asia...Haha..

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Best choice would be to take this disgusting behavior and turn it into an opportunity. Let's get this LDP and cut their tiny balls off. C'mon all you old and wise female talentos, and the wives of the members, and where's the princess as well. Get our wives and fiends involved and get elected and run the LDP out of town! Best place to start right now is spread the word about the Chang.org campaign.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The fact that Abe has done nothing about this, proves that he supports their views and this form of harassment.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

bunch of pathetic little cowards! if you state something then you should be prepared to put you name against it, or apologise if you know you are wrong. if the LDP isnt prepared to name these morons then they are basically condoning them and people shouldnt vote for them at all.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

LDP leadership is stupid not to do something about this. If they don't come up with a scapegoat at least (if the real persons can't be identified) then I'd not be surprised to see it hit their poll ratings. I do believe that slightly more than half of the eligible voters in Japan are women.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Childish behavior of the lawmakers involved and the one that help them hide.

But are those words considered sexual harassment? Why I get the feeling than anything nowadays can be judged as sex-hara. Just like anything can be considered as bullying. Where are we going...

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I'm sure next week's Shukan Shinchou and all the other gossip mags will name names.

Looking forward to it!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Talk:

Government of Japan will cultivate the power of women as the greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy, and further strengthen cooperation with the international community as well as assistance to developing countries with the belief that creating "a society in which women shine" will bring vigor to the world.

(MoFA, echoing PM Abe's 2013 address to UN General Assembly)

The Walk:

LDP Secretary-General Osamu Yoshiwara, who has been in hot water a number of times for his own sexist remarks and who was the one to deny Shiomura’s request for punishment, claims not to have heard any of the comments

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Jimizo: "My wife doesn't get angry at this kind of story anymore. She uses them as examples of why I've always been keener on Japan than her."

I'm sorry your wife has become so complacent in terms of the rampant sexism here, but I'm not sure how that fits in with your initial, "Girls be ambitious".

"This will slide off the pages in a few days and those responsible will probably still be wondering what all the fuss was about."

Exactly. So, is 'being ambitious' letting is slide off the pages and allowing nothing to change? The LDP government has vowed to make women more prevalent in the nation, and not only have they miserably failed to do so in practice, they are now allowing these sexist old men to condemn female scientists and taunt female politicians without even the tiniest modicum of punishment. THAT, my friend, is not anything to be 'ambitious' about.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Suzuki Akihiro, sayonara!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I feel Japans population dropping as I type these words!

Ladies of Japan, you should be looking for ways off these rocks, no future here for any of us, let the old fossils die alone, crying in their sake!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The LDP's 鈴木章浩 was the offender... http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASDG2302A_T20C14A6CC0000/

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan bad

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Cowards.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But are those words considered sexual harassment? Why I get the feeling than anything nowadays can be judged as sex-hara. Just like anything can be considered as bullying. Where are we going...

Yeah well, they weren't a bunch of drunk dudes making some sexist jokes in a pub, were they? They are politicians (you know the representative of the citizens) in a working place and moreover during a debate in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly? How can they possibly behave like this without being offensive, disrespectful, dirty and plain stupid.

In fact why a hell would someone shout in public to a women making a talk that she should hurry up and get married and try to humiliate her by saying that she hasn't got children? I can't see any other reason than sexual harassment.

Better said, try to make a simple mental experience. Imagine that the speaker would have been Abe, the prime minister. Imagine for the sake of the exercise that he would have made the exact same speech with the same societal issues that Mrs Shiomura brought up to debate. Imagine for the sake of the exercise that Abe would be a single man without any child. Do you believe a second that one of those monkeys would have said the same thing to him in public like this?

I f... don't think so.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Suzuki Akihiro, sayonara!

Nah... I'm sure he was drunk at the time, and doesn't remember a thing.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

lucabrasi: "Nah... I'm sure he was drunk at the time, and doesn't remember a thing."

Indeed, and that excuse would be accepted here despite it being during a meeting. And now that the offender has been named and apologized, the excuses as to why Ms. Shiomura cannot make a claim to punish again will start. Abe will say it's 'regrettable' if he says anything at all, but nothing will be done to Suzuki or, at worst, he'll be pressured into resigning into an amakudari job and then seek re-election and probably get it at the next election.

Hope he's proud of his sad attempt to get a laugh out of the oyajis at the expense of this young woman.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Smith I said 'girls, be ambitious. Take the next train to Narita'. I mean women with ambition should leave this country. I've posted before that I've seen many highly capable young women do that at my place of work do exactly that. The reason why my wife is complacent is that we are leaving, largely due to her being utterly sick of the misogynistic culture at work and as we see here, in its leadership. Things change at glacial pace in Japan, and I can't blame her as a person not brought up in this culture for her attitude. This is a man's world and I can't see it changing meaningfully for a very long time.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But are those words considered sexual harassment? Why I get the feeling than anything nowadays can be judged as sex-hara. Just like anything can be considered as bullying. Where are we going...

You don't think suggesting that a women, in the middle of making a speech, should get married? You don't think asking a woman if she can have kids isn't harassment? Seriously? If some female asked you about your sperm count while in the middle of a speech in a room full of women that wouldn't bother you?

Where are we going? Hopefully to a world where women are treated with respect and folks with opinions like yourself aren't in power positions.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

because words are failing me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Jimizo: my bad. Narita is not just an airport and I took it literally as area. If this is politics here and these are the results you'll be glad you left, at least in the long run. And sorry I mistook your wife's meaning as well.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

try again!

( insert Picard facepalm here ) because words are failing me

2 ( +3 / -1 )

During a TV program aired June 21, Shigeru Ishiba, the party's secretary-general, made clear the LDP regarded their behavior as shameful.

He said "it is "important:" for the assemblymen to promptly apologize. "If they are the members of our party, the party must issue an apology," he said.

But the assembly president, Toshiaki Yoshino of the LDP, refused Shiomura's request, saying it is technically difficult to determine who was responsible.

Osamu Yoshiwara, secretary-general of the LDP members' group in the assembly, said it had started questioning members on June 19 to find out who was behind the incident. But no one has yet come forward, he said.

"As I didn't actually hear the taunts myself, it is difficult for our group to decide how to deal with the situation," he said.

But a senior member of LDP's assembly group said, "If our secretary-general has called on the perpetrators to come forward, they must do so and apologize if they are really the members of our group."

"Tokyo aspires to develop into the worl'’s best city before the 2020 Olympic Games," she said. "I hope the incident will serve as a good wake-up call for the entire assembly to change for the better."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They are obviously afraid of women's intelligence.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is no way for politicans to act. What a national shame! Think about the image of Japan and what these comments sets off. Terrible

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is the latest, One LDP member confessed.'

Suzuki, who initially denied any involvement and condemned the harassment in an interview, publicly apologized to Shiomura. While admitting to making the first comment "You should get married," Suzuki has denied making a second comment, "Can't you even bear a child?"

Shiomura accepted his apology but stated, "I'm positive that there were others besides Mr. Suzuki who made comments."

She said she hopes that others involved in the heckling will come forward as well.

When asked whether he would continue his position as an assembly member, Suzuki stated he has no plans to resign.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The more I read and know about Shiomura-san, the more I can sympathize that it is a waste if this intelligent and decent person can't pass her talents and abilities on to another generation.

Is it "sexist" to think that? Perhaps, behind all the crudeness, this basic feeling was in operation.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japanese women should make their voice heard at the next elections with their votes and their Husbands, "no allowance this week if you vote LDP"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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