Womenomics? Good or Bad?

By Chi Onyeka

Womenomics was established and coined by Emperor Shinzo Abe to help get Japan’s female population more into working. However, problems that women experience while working, especially in an area with a mostly male connotation, are unequal pay and harassment. This is part of the reasons some Japanese citizens are saying that womenomics isn’t exactly helpful.

For me as a female, of course, I’m in agreement with women in the workforce. Japan is a very egalitarian country, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that after some women give birth, they leave their jobs and become a stay at home mom. It’s not exactly mind boggling to me because history tells us that women haven’t even been in the workforce until the modern period (1750-1900), which is pretty late, considering how long humans have been around. I’m very appreciative that women are taking a stance in the economy worldwide, but it was a little surprising to me to find out that women after childbirth serve their traditional roles as wives.

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/12/03/368143686/is-womenomics-the-answer-to-japans-economic-woes

Gun Policies: Japan vs the United States

By Rakiya Washington

Being a member of the Japanese Plus Program is not limited to learning Japanese language. This membership gives me access to the history, as well as current events pertaining to Japan. For instance, one of the several articles that we discussed concerned the issue of gun policies, and the difference between Japan and the United States, in that regard. By reading this article, it became quite apparent that the adjectives used to describe Japan, such as safe and welcoming, were extremely appropriate. During the publication date of the article, there was a massive shooting in a Texan church. This major event brought to light the issues with our gun policy laws and how they are far more liberal than Japan’s. In order to receive a gun license in Japan, a thorough investigation of the individual’s mental and behavioral background is performed, while in the United States, a gun could be bought at a local Walmart. In the article, the writer included a great analogy that I enjoyed, “Buying a gun in the United States is as easy as it is to buy chopsticks in Japan,” and I think that this comparison really displays how the United States is more careless with who has possession of a gun. Japan’s mental evaluation of each candidate should be pushed in the United States, because almost every time there is a major shooting, the suspect is described as mentally ill; therefore, in order to prevent this issue, further evaluation should be performed for each candidate. I really enjoyed learning about this topic because it is so relevant within today’s society and it broadens my knowledge about Japanese culture. I cannot wait to learn about more things like this!

https://www.thedailybeast.com/texas-church-shooter-killed-more-than-japans-total-gun-homicides-for-5-years

Recently

By Jeff Jenkins

Recently, a US serviceman committed a heinous act in Okinawa prefecture of Japan. The man raped and killed a Japanese woman, then proceeded to dump her body in the woods, where it was later found by local authorities. An act of this caliber usually leaves people in shock, but not in Okinawa. Why? Because this is not the first time that a US serviceman has committed crimes like this on Japanese soil, especially in the Okinawa area due to the high military presence there. Oftentimes, when the military of the nation that you’re allied with is near you, you should feel safe, but the people of Okinawa cannot because nothing is being done to stop acts like this from happening in the first place. Two great examples would be the 1995 rape that happened on the beach of Okinawa, where three servicemen kidnapped a 12-year-old little girl and proceeded to physically and sexually abuse her. While all three of the servicemen were sent to prison, they did not truly receive a punishment equal to the crime that they committed, and while Okinawans did protest to have a greater punishment dealt towards the military, nothing happened. The other example of nothing being done is the recent car accident that happened when a drunk US serviceman hit a Japanese pedestrian. The event sparked a lot of debate between the people of Okinawa and US military bases. However, the only thing that happened was a short and temporary ban on alcohol that lasted for less than a week.

I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing my own military, but this is getting out of hand and it is becoming a trend where if a serviceman does something that they should never do, they only receive a slap on the wrist. Their actions do not only affect our standing in Japan, but around the world, and that gives our country a bad reputation.

Especially in this current era, where nuclear warfare and possibly WW3 is right at our front doors, we should not be betraying the trust and hospitality of our allies, but instead finding ways to ensure each others’ safety and prevention of another war.  I hope that the US military and the people of Okinawa can come to a reasonable compromise, because if this continues to go on, I fear a much bigger problem will arise.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/japan-ex-marine-kenneth-shinzato-life-rape-murder-okinawa-woman/

Genderless Tokyo Youth

By Tara Martin

I looked up my own article and found this really interesting one from the Huffington Post titled: “Japanese Youth Are Fearlessly Embracing The Genderless Fashion Movement.” It’s about how Japanese youths are using fashion and style to transcend gender. Japan apparently had a “third gender” called wakashu before Western ideas were introduced. Many of those interviewed have received a lot of backlash from strangers, to family and friends. It’s really inspiring for me because they’ve dealt with other people’s judgments and harshness in such a positive way. They’ve learned not to be bothered by it or let what other people say slow them down. This is a really good message because now gender equality and acceptance is becoming more and more talked about. It’s important that we create a safer environment for everyone so we can continue to thrive.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/japanese-youth-genderless-fashion_us_59665a5fe4b09b587d644107

Women in Japan

By Chidera Obiwuma

“Japanese Lawmaker’s Baby Gets Booted From The Floor” is an article about a municipal lawmaker who brought her 7-month old baby to her job which was dominated by males, and she was asked to leave. There were no rules against bringing infants, but it goes to show the type of inequality that women face in not only Japan but around the world. Surprisingly, in Australia, Senator Larissa Waters was able to breastfeed her baby on the floor of Parliament. It is a burden that many women face around the world, such as the idea that you should not breastfeed in public because it makes people uncomfortable.

In Japan women consistently leave the workforce because they are expected to do so when they have children. Even at their jobs they get the worse pay, worse benefits and worse career prospects. They earn 74% of the median male wage on average, similar to their American counterparts who earn slightly more with 81%. The disparity between men and women in terms of politics and economics is a global problem and something that we need to combat. It will be a difficult process in Japan as this way of thinking is a cultural tradition.

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/11/24/566367004/japanese-lawmakers-baby-gets-booted-from-the-floor

Women in the Japanese Workplace

By Bryson Torgovitsky

Given the current scandals surrounding women’s treatment in the American workplace, I was refreshed to hear that Shinzō Abe had plans to institute a greater number of women in Japanese jobs. Unfortunately, such a transition could never be instantaneous, and there has yet to be major headway. Although some women, like Yukiko Koyama, are finding work in traditionally male environments (she works as a lumberjack in Nagano prefecture), women still face challenges, especially when motherhood begins. Yuko Ogata, who is a member of the Kumamoto City Assembly in Kumamoto prefecture, was removed from a meeting after bringing her infant son on the grounds that “guests” were not permitted entry. The interesting part of this story is that Ogata-san’s son was nondisruptive to the meeting. I do support Shinzō Abe’s idea of women becoming a greater part of the Japanese workforce, but nothing is so simple that it can be accomplished by words alone. Individuals must adjust their (potentially long-held) views so progress can be made.

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/12/03/368143686/is-womenomics-the-answer-to-japans-economic-woes

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/11/24/566367004/japanese-lawmakers-baby-gets-booted-from-the-floor

Trump in Japan

By Skyy Genies

For many people in America today, President Trump’s foreign endeavors are a very sensitive and for some, infuriating topic to discuss. Of course, I am one of those people, and today when I read an article titled “Trump Tells Japan It Can Protect Itself by Buying U.S. Arms” from the New York Times, I was in utter disbelief. The article discussed President Trump’s recent visit to Japan; his opinions about the imbalance of trade, his attempts to persuade Japan to purchase U.S. arms, and in my opinion, the worst of all, his racist and ignorant remarks about Japanese society. Trump referred to the people of Japan as “samurai warriors” and painted them as weak for not retaliating against North Korea for their missile projects. Reading this article brought to my attention the fact that It is a common trend among many youth in this country to hate our President, even if for many, it is just a matter of riding the wave. Besides learning new facts about U.S. and Japan relations or Trump’s methods in foreign policy,

I learned a very valuable lesson from this experience. If one doesn’t know much about politics (or any topic), like me in some ways, taking the time to actually do a little research and read about the different perspectives of a phenomenon can help you back up your opinions with actual evidence and even help you become a more well-rounded and in a way open-minded person.