NPO SANKAKU PLANET lecture “Women’s Poverty from a point of view of Domestic Violence”

There was a period of movement preventing violence against women between November 12 and 25, 2011. Nagoya city gender equality center enforces a project regarding prevention of violence against women(domestic violence) in November every year.

This year our NPO SANKAKU PLANET called Ms. Mieko Takenobu, a journalist and presently a professor of Wako University from Tokyo and had her talk about “ actual condition of women’s poverty from a point of view of domestic violence” on November 26, 2011. On the day, victims, supporters and those who were interested in domestic violence  participated our event, while there were many events held by a variety of organization in Nagoya city. Some of them participated both this event and others. Therefore, we could have assumed that many people expected the event.

Ms. Takenobu asked “ Does a marriage help women from poverty ? ” in the first paragraph of her resume. While Ms. Takenobu conferred an article which she collected news data in 2008, she picked up an example which a women became poor by her marriage even though she had economic basis. Against a discourse like “girls had better get married”, Ms. Takenobu insisted that marriage does not complement women’s economic power like saying “ marriage with domestic violence will make women be poorer than before marriage and take women’s power to escape.  

Continuously, Ms. Takenobu explained Japan is very severe environment for women to survive by using data regarding a high poverty rate of women in Japan and a gap of labor environment between men and women. Especially, we were shocked by the facts that “ only Turkey and Japan resulted that not-working single mother’s poverty rate is higher than working single mother’s”. In Japan livelifood protection is the only relief support for the people. Also, it is problem that women only rely on “home and husband” as safety-net. We have to recognize the actual condition that  “Economic and social system on the premise of  “husband” incur domestic violence, at the same time it obstruct women to get out from a house for escaping domestic violence” as Ms. Takenobu said.

Moreover, Ms. Takenobu put a question that the way of gender equality policy which does not consider poverty by pointing Equal Employment Opportunity Law (1985), a shrewd mechanism of between labor deregulation and welfare system. Ms. Takenobu considered that supporting policy for working women in Japan is not working by showing an example of Europe and said “ We have to regulate men’s working style if we say real gender equality”. Also, she brought up a chain of poverty which would improve in the future because women’s poverty is connected children’s poverty.

Ms. Takenobu’s talk which is substantiated by collecting news materials and data taught us that we have to take and consider the actual condition of Japan seriously. Actually, about various problems around women, especially domestic violence problem, we have a lot of things to solve.Then we sometime come to nothing. We assume there were many participants at the place might have felt such as “ Why Japan is such a condition ? ”, “ How can we do to the things better ? ” and irritated the things unchanged.  However, Ms. Takenobu emphasized “ It is better to do something or to speak out. Do not think nothing is change.  Let’s act even a little. Let’s make an appeal”. Domestic Violence Act is enacted by women’s act. We at the place received energy from Ms. Takenobu’s energetic cheering that we want to step forward with hope.

Original Article by NPO SANKAKU PLANET on the WAN Website (Dec. 24, 2011)
Translated and Adapted by Mariko. O


Has the concept of labor changed?

 I attended the symposium coordinated by Chizuko Ueno with participants including Emiko Takenaka, Mari Osawa, Mitsuko Miyaji and Kayoko Akabane. Each participant is a leading researcher and activist in the fields of feminism and labor studies. This symposium commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Creo Osaka and was entitled “The Future My Choices Bring About – Tomorrow of Living and Working.” It was certainly worth all my efforts to spare some time for attending the symposium because I could realize what new challenges I have to face now. Frankly though, it was interesting indeed, but frustrating, too.

To avoid causing unnecessary misunderstanding, let me be clear about this – the Book Talk by Osawa held prior to the symposium was very inspiring, and the talks by each symposium participant were also very intriguing. Ueno handled the symposium’s progress as skillfully as she always does in a very limited period of time and still gave us a clear message. The event coincided with the elections for Osaka Mayor and Governor, and Ueno said jokingly, “I wish the tenth anniversary of Creo Osaka won’t coincide with the day of its closing.” Many laughed, but this ominous prediction has become more realistic than a random speculation.

I will just point out my questions about one among some issues. Most symposium participants didn’t mention their critical attitude toward the concept of labor, which is one of the vital themes that feminists have been talking about. The talks were exclusively about paid work in the market, so that it could have been mistaken as talks by executives of Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) or Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) chairmen, who are supposed to take the utterly opposite position to that of these symposium participants. There was a bit of talk about poorly paid part-timers as well as single mothers in very dire situations. Had Emiko Takenaka not been there, nobody would have mentioned unpaid work, and her reference to that topic didn’t assimilate well into the tone of the symposium. It was regrettable that she couldn’t make her point clear enough about Pay Equity and the Child Allowance, due to the lack of time, because such issues are just as important as others, if not more. Her argument that the life security should be assured not by the state but by the corporation was worthy of attention for us to look at the labor movement with fresh eyes. I praise her effort for having said what she should in such a constrained amount of time.

It was very regrettable that she was not allotted time enough to explain more thoroughly about these matters, because these are the very points that require a fundamental shift in labor and labor movements from a feminism point of view.

I thought Feminism after the 1970s has helped clarify these two points: First, that wives with no income have been convinced that they share the same interests with their husbands, who are sole bread-winners in the family, but actually they may not. And second, that the notion that homemakers and working women have opposing interests cannot be true. The two major concepts – that the patriarchy containing the micro authority and the idea that labor within the family, which used to be regarded as family obligation, should be regarded as labor even in a family whose members are supposed to share completely the same agenda and interests – are answered by these two points mentioned above. Furthermore, the gender arguments should be a ground-breaking tool to question the legitimacy of how to differentiate labor from non-labor.

But when I listened to the talks in the symposium I realized that I may have been mistaken about these two. It seemed that such issues mentioned above have lost their importance along the way in talking about women’s diversity or a gap between a certain type of women and another type of women. It is true that women’s identity in the 1970s may be different from that of the present, so it would be better to give this theme a second thought on a different occasion. But the new recognition about the labor structure back then could lead us to a valuable mutual understanding, couldn’t it? Feminist arguments that start tentatively may make a certain case, and they have been an effective tool to make those who are in different or even in opposing positions to work together and to acquaint those who would never meet otherwise.

What was shocking to me was a cynical and less compassionate tone when the symposium participants talked about homemakers and their lack of imagination and generosity toward those who are in a slightly different position from them. I also didn’t understand the point of critics of so-called homemaker feminism.

I wondered what “My Choices” meant in the title of this symposium. I hope it didn’t mean self-responsibility, the often-used-word of today.

I think our lives can be characterized as swimming in an ocean, a constant struggle against random waves of all sizes and strengths, and it is our delusion that there is a freedom for us to make choices in our life. The reality is that we pick what looks the best among the skimpy choices available, which are greatly limited by the social structure and one’s fate. In making a choice, we are not allowed to have time to contemplate, and we are barely able to see which is better to pick. Plus, in many cases such a choice is more influenced by the interests of someone else who is closely related to you, rather than your own interests. Then we end up having children, or having no children, being married or unmarried, becoming a homemaker, getting a divorce, living with someone who is not a recognized spouse, living alone, giving labor without being paid or having no opportunity to get a decent job. No one is immune to becoming one of them.

On the other hand, we have been driving the society to change by exercising our very limited freedom. I think Feminism is a label given to an aggregation of such actions by numerous individual women. This phrase “My Choices” used in the symposium title represents such choices. The standpoint of Feminism should be our compassion to someone else’s life that could well be our own.

The Women’s Center seems to have a similar kind of problem regarding its position about “the labor” and “homemakers,” so I would like to give this more thought eventually.

Original Article by Kumiko Ida on the WAN Website (Nov. 30, 2011) 
Translated and Adapted by Yoshiko M.


Unwillingly Signed Divorce Paper: A Case of Non Japanese Couple with Different Nationalities



I am a graduate student from country A.  I have a husband, who is from country B, and a child, who is two years old.  My husband and I met each other as foreign students and got married in Japan.  The three of us still live in Japan. 

My husband is not interested to take care of the child and has started to complain, “I want more free time,” and “I cannot get relaxed because of the kid.”

The other day, he asked me to sign my name to a divorce paper, saying that even though it is not legally effective, it makes him feel easy and free.

I signed the form without any intention to get a divorce as I was afraid that if I refuse it would adversely affect our relationship.

I hope it will not cause any problem just to sign a divorce paper as he says, but is that true?  (Ms. D in Osaka)
Reply by UCHIKOSHI Sakura 

You are both foreign residents in Japan, one from country A, and the other from country B.  If both of you are qualified for stay in Japan for academic purpose as a teacher or a researcher (as is specified in the annexed table 1 of the Immigration Control Act) and have been living in Japan for more than five years, you are considered to have “a habitual residence” (a place where you usually live)  in Japan.

If a married couple have different home countries (or their nationality is different from each other) and have the same habitual residence, the law of their habitual residence is applied (refer to Article 27 and 25 of the Act on General Rules for Application of Laws).  Therefore, in your case, the laws of Japan should be applicable.

If your husband goes to city office and hands in the divorce paper without your consent, it will be accepted and formally processed.  You can ask for arbitration or bring the case to court afterwards  (refer to Article 17 and Clause 1, Article 18) , it will be very difficult for you to establish that the divorce is invalid.

There is a system to avoid such difficulty in advance by submitting an application for nonacceptance of a divorce paper, but since neither you nor your husband have family register in Japan, you can not apply for such nonacceptance.

I advise you to get the signed divorce paper back from your husband before it becomes too late.  If all he wants is to feel free, why don’t you talk with hin to find other solutions than divorce. 

Original article on the WAN website (November 21, 2011)

Translated and adapted from the WAN website by FUKUOKA.A.A

Women's Peace Prize in 2011

This year's Nobel Peace Prize is one of great milestones for women activism.   
The Worldwide Women's Action Network (W-WAN) is pleased to post related information, provided by Betsy Kawamura who is the founder of Women for Non Violence (www.w4nv.com) in Norway, for celebrating two big events in this fall: womens’ peace prize and the launch of W-WAN’s weblog. 

 Women's Peace Prize 

Saturday, December 10th the Nobel Peace Prize will be handed out in Oslo City Hall. At 5.30 p.m the same afternoon thousands of us will be gathered at Youngstorget to celebrate the laureates with appeals and cultural events before finally assembling to the traditional torchlight procession to the Grand Hotel. 

This year, FOKUS Forum for Women and Development will organize the march together with the Norwegian Peace Council, which is an umbrella organization for Norwegian peace organizations.
«We hope that Norwegian women can highlight their empowerment in a joint-tribute to these three wonderful laureates who strongly symbolize women as change-agents in countries of war and conflict,» says the CEO of FOKUS, Gro Lindstad. She also states that this year's award to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman is a great recognition of the important work being executed by women to create peace. The award sets off the importance of clarifying, implementing and strengthening United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. 

After years of struggle and persistent advocacy by the international women's movement, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in 2000. It was the first time in UN history that the Security Council adopted a resolution where women were recognized as active agents of change and not just victims of war and conflict. The goal of Resolution 1325 is to increase women's participation and influence in efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts; to strengthen their protection and to safeguard their human rights in conflict and post-conflict situations. This resolution requires the full integration of women in peace processes through the inclusion of gender perspectives in peace-building work, before and post-conflict. 

«In many cases men negotiate the peace processes and establish the basis of institutional reconstruction in areas affected by war and conflict,» says Hedda Langemyr, director of the Norwegian Peace Council. Women have a very central position in civilian reconstruction work, but this is a task that is not credited in the same way, neither by the major stake-holders nor international donors. 

Langemyr claims that women must play a more central role both in diplomacy and in the structural arena of peace-building, in addition to promoting women’s civilian engagement. The Peace Prize revitalizes the hope that this is possible. 

Resolution 1325 is first and foremost civil society's profitable decree. Attitudes are formed and skills are most often developed and exchanged amongst grassroots women via their informal networks. The interaction between local women's groups and international organizations exemplified by FOKUS is a critical contribution. The international women's movement can draw knowledge, solidarity and resources, but the courageous women's work at local levels is even more critical to achieve peace. Resolution 1325 has aided in establishing some global norms on women’s rights and realizing peace agreements. Furthermore, it has recognized the special needs of men and women in peace and reconciliation processes, and their different perspectives and priorities. 

«There is still much work to be done in this field, but we see clear progress, » says Gro Lindstad. This year's Peace Prize is a gratifying example of how the world's most prestigious prize can help illuminate women's engagement internationally. The prize has consistently proven that without the participation of women, sustainable peace is difficult to create.

This year's laureates
All three Nobel Peace Prize winners have incorporated the spirit of UN Resolution 1325 in their work. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first Head of State who actively used the resolution in rebuilding war-torn Liberia. Her administration has strengthened women's rights in all areas, including in legislation that protects women's dignity and clamps down on criminal activities that women are particularly vulnerable to. Johnson has also created a special unit police-force to investigate sexual violence after the civil war in her country. 

Grass-roots` activist Leymah Gbowee also from Liberia, mobilized women in the struggle against war and terrorism through effective non-violent action. The result was that Charles Taylor was summoned to the negotiation table and was subsequently forced to resign. Gbowee’s history of women's non-violent struggle and mobilization has been portrayed in the documentary film, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell", which has had great success globally. 

«This woman is a particularly good example of what non-violence, civil resistance and willingness to change lead to; and Gbowee is the candidate that most clearly fulfills the criteria that Nobel in his life-time wished to emphasize,» said Hedda Langemyr. 

Yemeni Tawakkul Karman, like Gbowee has mobilized women at the grass-roots` level. She founded the human rights group, Women Journalists without Chains in 2005 in Yemen. Women have played a key role in the revolt against President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his authoritarian regime. The Nobel Prize for Karman is an inspiration, mobilizing more women to take to the streets to protest. On October 26th this year, women burned their veils in protest against the brutal regime of President Saleh. 

Karman's goal is to create a non-violent revolution by popular resistance that has emerged in Egypt. Her clear, peaceful line encourages women to walk out into the streets to protest against the violent regime's abuses. 

«We are very pleased with this year's Peace Prize, » says Hedda Langemyr and Gro Lindstad. All three laureates have emphasized non-violent peace work, democracy, freedom of expression, and the importance of women's participation in their communities. The Prize is also an award to civil society's efforts and peace movements around the world. Many years have lapsed since the prize was awarded to individuals who have both represented Nobel's will and advocated on behalf of its principals. Langemyr and Lindstad conclude that this award therefore provides hope that future prizes will be given in a closer manner to the intentions of Alfred Nobel. 

*Translated by Kamila Wisz from Norwegian texts that can be found on Nye Meninger: http://www.nyemeninger.no/alle_meninger/cat1002/subcat1041/thread202524/#post_202524.

For your reference, please visit:

Posted by Shin YAMAAKI


The 1st National Exam for Certified Care Workers under EPA to be Held in Jan.2012.

     The Association of Japanese Language Education (AJLE) has a working group to support nurses and care workers who are candidates for certification in Japan under the Japan-Indonesia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).   This article mainly focuses on the current situation of the candidates for care workers, as the examination system differs for nurses and care workers.

     The first group of care workers sent to Japan under the EPA for certification training arrived in the summer of 2008 and, after six months of education in the Japanese language, they are now being trained at social welfare institutions.  The candidates are required to have working experience in Japan of more than three years to be qualified to take the examination.  Since their stay in Japan is restricted to four years, they have only one chance to take the examination and obtain certification.  If they succeed, they can be employed in Japan as welfare professionals, but if not, they are forced to leave Japan.

     Nurses, on the other hand, are required to have nursing experience in their home countries and those who are qualified can take the national examination soon after they arrive in Japan.  Three examinations have already been given to those candidate nurses, but the ratio of successful applicants was as low as 1.2% in 2010, slightly increasing to 4% in 2011.  As a result, 60% of the candidates of the first year immediately went home.

In case of care workers, they receive the Japanese language program, but because the government of Japan limits its period to six months, they are required to work at hospitals and welfare facilities before they acquire sufficient Japanese language.  As a result, the candidates have great difficulty in communicating with patients, who tend to be overwhelmingly elderly and in getting accustomed to the frequent use of jargon and abbreviations used on the job.

That is the situation where the Indonesian candidates must take the national examination on an equal footing with the Japanese examinees.  And that is why we have been asking the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to use easier to understand Japanese expressions and vocabulary on the national examinations, taking into account their limitations of Japanese capability.  However, it is unlikely that they will change the level of the Japanese questions in the near term.
There was no prospect of our request having any positive effects until I had a chance to meet Professor UENO Chizuko in August at the conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies in Tallinn, Estonia.  She reminded me of the group Garuda Supporters (GS), an organization promoting exchanges between Indonesia and Japan, and thanks to the help of several people concerned, I was finally able to contact a person working at the secretariat of GS.  GS was also active in working with other support organizations to propose a fundamental change of the EPA system itself.

In order to somehow improve the situation in time for the upcoming examination in January, 2012, three groups, GS, Kansai Indonesia Friendship Association, and our AJLE working group offering Japanese language support for these workers, decided to issue an emergency proposal concerning the national examination to certify EPA care workers and nurses.

The proposal is composed of the three requests as follows: first, kana (phonetic symbols) should be printed alongside Chinese characters on written examinations; second, the time for examination should be extended; third, the EPA candidates should be examined separately in a different room from other examinees.

That is the minimum request.  This special assistance given to the non-Japanese examinees without the knowledge of Chinese characters should not be regarded as preferential treatment.  We should note the gap between the regular examinees using Japanese for more than twenty years and those who are learning Japanese for less than four years while acquiring knowledge and skills about care in the fields of a foreign country.

Recently, the EPA project for educating nurses and care workers has been extended to Vietnam, and is expected to attract more candidates to come to stay in Japan for education and training.  Yet if the situation in Japan as a recipient country for these health care workers stands as it does now, there will be more and more discouraged candidates.

The people of the host institutions appreciate the fact that the candidates, who tend to have been raised in extended families in Indonesia (and the Philippines as well) are very well accepted in their field because of their sincere care they provide their clients and patients.  The positive effect on these health care workers by the Japanese staff has also been observed in many cases, and yet, the candidates cannot live up to the expectations of their hosts as they fail in the national exam and go home.

Obviously the EPA related examination system has many inherent faults.  The system will be reexamined and things will be improved for future candidates, but something must be done immediately and continued support is required so that the existing 752 candidates for certified care workers and the 328 institutions receiving them for training can avoid unfortunate outcome despite their great efforts.

Original article by ENDO Orie
on the WAN website (November 9, 2011)

Translated and adapted from the WAN website by FUKUOKA.A.A.


What’s Going on in Schools and Homes and on Streets? ----3rd Symposium on Victims of Pornography and Human Rights of Women and Children

The Association for Victims of Pornography and Sexual Violence has been raising questions about Japan's social conditions where the violation fo sexual rights and the wide-spread of pornography do not receive enough attention.

This year we are organizing our 3rd symposium to consider the environment in which children are being raised as well as the sexual harassment and abuse in schools and local communities.

The symposium will be held in a large hall of Toui-kenpo Kaikan, Shinjuku, Tokyo,  between 13:30 and 17:00 on November 20, 2011.

For location see:

Speakers include KANEKO Yumi, a school nurse who is promoting sex education that focuses on the human rights implications of sex and gender, TACHIBANA Jun, an editor and writer who is active in collecting the voices of teenage girls who hang out aimlessly in Shibuya, and HAYAKAWA Satoshi, who is working in a foster home, supporting the children who have been sexually abused.  This symposium will provide a chance to both learn about those problems and discuss solutions to them.

Contact us:

Translated and Adapted from the WAN website by FUKUOKA A.A.


Sociologist Chizuko Ueno’s Online Seminars

Chizuko Ueno, an author of many well-known books, Japan’s foremost feminist, sociologist, and former professor of the Graduate School of the University of Tokyo, started seminars we can watch online.
Since she retired from the university, she has been active as the managing director of Women's Action Network (WAN).
Her current research interest is "how single men and women can live alone for a long time and die at home."
The first Ueno Seminar presented by WAN was held on August 5th.
Videos are accessible from here at http://wan.or.jp/ueno/?cat=11 (in Japanese only).

Written by Atsuko Ishikawa


Join Us! - Women's Organization against Nuclear Power

We launched Women's Organization against Nuclear Power. (You can find the list of who "we" are in the original website but it's only available in Japanese.) The kick-off meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. on November 23rd in Tokyo .

The Fukushima nuclear power plants’ accident teaches us that human beings cannot control nuclear power plants. Operating power plants in Japan, the earthquake-prone archipelago, is extremely risky and we don't have any solutions to the disposal of radioactive waste. Now is the time to change Japan's energy policy, where nuclear power generation has been promoted. Let’s realize denuclearization.

Now is the critical moment. Fellow women, let's cooperate.

Support Women's Organization against Nuclear Power!

The Japanese flyer is here.

  • If you support us, fax or e-mail us.
  • You can also become a supporter from our website.
  • Please make a donation through bank transfer if possible.
  •  The units of donation are 1,000 yen.  
  • We are going to use your contribution for the activities and administration of the organization.

Thank you.

TEL: 03-6550-1111

FAX: 03-6551-1111

e-mail datsugenfem@gmail.com

Please use the following application form to support the organization.

 -------------------- Application Form --------------------

I Support the Women's Organization Against Nuclear Power.
Your Organization or Title (Optional):
Can we reveal your name? Yes or No

The Amount of Contribution (Optional) 
  • The Number of Units:
  •  ______________ yen

Original article on the WAN website.

Translated and adapted by Atsuko Ishikawa


Where a Women’s Lib Activist Met Creative Works on Homosexual Themes -- report on the Yaoi/BL Symposium

The word yaoi in Japanese refers to a genre of creative works whose theme is male and male gay relationships, and yet ones that target female audience. It is also called “BL,” which stands for “boys love.”

On October 2, at the campus of Osaka University, a symposium on Yaoi/BL was held for the second time following the last year. The title this year was Female Writers of JUNE Fictions  the Era of Azusa Nakajima’s Courses on Fiction Writing.

JUNE (pronounced joo-neh), is a magazine with yaoi works, which was published from 1978 to 1996. The famous author and critic Azusa Nakajima, also known as Kaoru Kurimoto, had a series of articles on how to write fictions in the magazine. From this series that had evaluated fictions submitted by its readers, many yaoi writers emerged as prominent authors.

In the symposium that attracted audience of various ages, panelists discussed what Azusa Nakajima's courses on fiction writing meant to JUNE’s female authors.

One of such authors is Fumiko Nomura, also known as women's lib activist Fuyumi Nakano. For me ((translator’s note: the original article's writer)), the interview with her was the highlight of this symposium.

Nomura's fictions have been highly recognized and published as books. What did JUNE mean to her? Basically, works published in JUNE provided her with sexual fantasy necessary for masturbation. She would get excited, for example, with a sadomasochistic relationship described in a particular work. However, having affinity with that kind of sexual relationship conflicted with the thought behind women's lib activities in which she engaged in her real life. That contradiction between having fantasy with a dominant/submissive sexual relationship and being a women’s lib activist would torment her.

According to Nomura, she came to understand why she grew fond of that kind of sexual fantasy: as she was completing her last fiction Good-bye Misty Love, she realized that, because she had hated male dominant society that had discriminated against women, she had been soothing her anger by describing a male and male dominant/submissive relationship where the dominant male eventually collapses.

Having completed the last fiction while she was away from Japan and knowing the direction of her anger, Nomura went back to Japan with determination to confront the reality of the society that she lived in.

Original article on the WAN website.
Translated and adapted by Naoko Hirose


Women's Korean Wave vol.21 Definitely Neighbors (Part 2 of 2)

Women's Korean Wave vol.21 Definitely Neighbors (이웃집 웬수)
written by Yeong-ae Yamashita

(You can read Part 1 here.)
The protagonist is Yun Jiyeong (actor: Yu Hojeong). Jiyeong, a housewife, and her husband Kim Seongjae (Son Hyeonju) lose their son in a traffic accident while they are quarreling. Shocked by the loss, the couple gets divorced. She soon gets a part-time job at a restaurant, where she meets its owner and chef, Chang Geonhui (Sin Seongrok). Later, their relationship becomes intimate. Meanwhile, her husband gets to know Kang Mijin (Kim Seongryeong), a designer, and begins dating with marriage in their mind.

Although each one of the divorced couple now has her or his own life, both are the parents of an infant girl. Because of this, they cannot cut their connection to each other. One day, Jiyeong finds that Seongjae's uncle moves in next door. Seongjae also moves into his uncle's house to become a good father to his daughter.

In the beginning, whenever the divorced couple meet, they have an argument. Their relationship changes little by little. When Jiyeong has to work late, Seongjae and his uncle look after the girl.

As for each other's new boyfriend/girlfriend, both pretend to be indifferent but they couldn't help saying something on the matter to each other. Their dialogues express their complicated feelings.

Mijin, a widow and a single mother, cannot understand why Seongjae lives next door to his ex-wife. She has never got divorced. When she has questions, she asks them frankly. She gets along with Jiyeong. The dramatist Choe says that Mijin is her ideal woman.

On the other hand, Jiyeong learns a lot while she raises the infant daughter and becomes independent. When she was married, she was too obedient to say anything to her mother-in-law. After getting divorced, she became self-assertive gradually. After seeing her own senile mother, she reconciled with her father and stepmother.

Her romance with Geonhui, whose father is a big hospital owner, looks like a fantasy but is described well as what makes her grow. One thing I am discontented with about the drama is the way Geonhui calls Jiyeong ajumma. Ajumma means an older married woman who has children. It also implies an uneducated woman who cooks and takes care of children.

In a Korean custom, names two people address each other change according to their relationships. Even after being intimate, Geonhui and Jiyeong do not change names they call each other, which do not match later episodes especially when they talk about love. It may suggest that their relationship is never closer than the one defined by how they address each other's name.

Interestingly enough, the way they talk to each other is polite but has some variations if you listen carefully. For example, Jiyeong uses casual peer-to-peer language to appease Geonhui when he woos her, or when she preaches him. By calling him "you" (너), she stresses that she is older than him and should be given precedence over. Although the way she calls him changes, Geonhui's way of talking does not change. You cannot see such variations on Japanese subtitles at all.

Original Article on the WAN website (October 5, 2011)

Translated and adapted by Atsuko Ishikawa


Women's Korean Wave vol.21 Definitely Neighbors (Part 1 of 2)

Women's Korean Wave vol.21 Definitely Neighbors (이웃집 웬수)
written by Yeong-ae Yamashita
Definitely Neighbors is a Korean drama series which sheds light on a divorced couple facing various events and going through complicated feelings with a light touch. SBS aired it on weekends in 2010. The number of episodes is 65.

Korean dramas in general relate divorce with "adultery" or "revenge" but you will never see either of them in this drama. Rather, it characteristically focuses on the reality of the surroundings of those who experienced divorce.

What made dramatist Choi Hyeonkyeong write this? She says, "those who got divorced don't want to talk about their divorce very much. So they are not able to overcome their pains. Not only that, but also divorce hurts children the most. If it's so, dealing with this topic straightforwardly would heal their pain. Through this drama, I would like to present how an ideal divorced couple would be."

Korean society had seen a rapid increase in divorce rate since the year 2000. The highest divorce rate was recorded in 2003 but the rate still ranks at first or second among the OECD countries. To suppress the divorce rate, the Korean government introduced a legal system that made divorce procedures more complicated in 2006.

Aired under such social circumstances, actors in the drama obtained some conspicuous awards. Its audience rate was always more than 20 %. It has already broadcast in Taiwan and in Japan. DVD will be released soon.

Original Article on the WAN website (October 5, 2011)

Translated and adapted by Atsuko Ishikawa


Kusama’s Body Festival in 60s

An art exhibit named Kusama’s Body Festival in 60’s, which features the artist Yayoi Kusama's works in that decade, is being held in Tokyo.

o August 6, 2011 (Sat.) - November 27, 2011 (Sun.)
o The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art
o 3-7-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
o Tel: 03-3402-3001

The exhibit website: http://www.watarium.co.jp/exhibition/1108kusama/index.html (in Japanese only)

The artist's official website has an extensive English section: http://www.yayoi-kusama.jp/e/information/index.html

Original Article on the WAN website (October 6, 2011)

Translated and adapted by Naoko Hirose


A View on the Two Female Members in the Noda Cabinet

Since the historic political shift from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in 2009, Japanese politics has seen three prime ministers and thus three sets of Cabinet members. On September 2, 2011, the newly appointed Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda formed a Cabinet, which includes two female members: Yoko Komiyama, the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, and Renho, State Minister in Charge of Government Revitalization, Civil Service Reform, Gender Equality and Japan’s Declining Birthrate.

The first DPJ Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had two women in his Cabinet, and his successor Naoto Kan also appointed two female members, although the latter two were both dismissed later in a Cabinet reshuffle. The resurgence of female politicians should therefore be welcomed, especially as Komiyama was promoted to what is considered a major post in the government from the position of Vice Minister and is now in charge of the DPJ’s proposed comprehensive tax and social welfare reform.

What is debatable, however, is the manner in which the media has dealt with the Gender Equality post. News that Renho had been appointed to the post was initially not mentioned at all on the major Internet news sites that covered the new Cabinet appointments. Later, the reports of Renho’s Cabinet responsibilities cited only “government revitalization” and “civil service reform,” and a few others put “Japan’s declining birthrate" before "gender equality." Even Asahi Shinbun, one of Japan’s most widely circulated newspapers, mentioned “gender equality” only in a small footnote. 

The first press conferences, only available on the governmental website, show the two female members views on issues well:

Komiyama, who apparently avoided the term “gender equality” in deference to the Japanese political convention of sectionalism at the press conference, certainly understands what are crucial under the current circumstances. On the other hand, Renho raised the issue of work-life balance but did not even mention the third Basic Plan for Gender Equality that has been under construction. Her knowledge and understanding of gender issues in Japan seems to leave room for improvement. 

Moreover, at the press conference, not a single question was asked with regard to gender equality. While such disappointment has become almost customary by now, we should keep a critical eye on the media. Undeniably, the Noda Cabinet faces numerous issues including employment, social welfare and tax, all of which are closely linked with gender. 

Translated and Adapted by Aya Kitamura


Support Center for the Victims of Sexual Violence in Osaka

The Sexual Assault Crisis Healing Intervention Center Osaka (SACHICO) is the first one-stop center in Japan to provide 24-hour care and support for victims of sexual violence. Care-workers, police, and lawyers work together to provide medical and psychological care in one location, allowing for a quick response to incidents, while minimizing the victim's physical and psychological damage. This is the summary of an interview with the representative of the center, Haruko Kato. 

How was the SACHICO established? 
I have been working as an OB/GYN doctor since 1975, and encountered the issue of sexual violence through my work. I started a study group with doctors such as OB/GYNs, pediatricians, and psychiatrists to discuss what we could do. We came to realize that we needed to create a one-stop center where we could provide comprehensive care for the victims of sexual violence, including medical, legal, and psychological support. In June 2009, we created a network and began preparing for the establishment of SACHICO. The members consisted of 28 doctors, medical law specialists, lawyers, counselors, and grassroots feminist activists. We established the center within the Hannan Chuo Hospital in Osaka in April 2010.

How could you get understanding from the hospital? 
This hospital was created with funding from the Dowa laws (laws designed to improve living conditions for the burakumin, Japan's largest minority group). The staff in the hospital tends to have high awareness for human rights and many are interested in medical care for those who are at risk. I think this is why we could create the center within this hospital. There are several merits about having the center within a hospital. A hospital can provide a 24-hour support system. We also needed to be able to provide OB/GYN care. We were open for 24 hours for delivery already, which made the hospital an ideal location. Plus, because it was a hospital, there was a pretty good system for security to provide a safe place for the victims. We could also have the victims receive psychiatric or orthopedic care when necessary. It's also important to note that the hospital created SACHICO in a location separate from the regular OB/GYN office.
Can you explain a bit about the Center itself, such as numbers or services provided? 
Within the past year, we received 1463 phone calls. There were 128 women, who came to our center. 78 were raped, 36 experienced other forms of sexual assault, 6 came because of domestic violence, and 8 came for other reasons. We found it extremely important for the center to be open 24 hours a day. Many clients called us or used our service during the night and/or weekends. 

Also, 90.4% of clients revisited the center. We think this was partly because the center was separated from the regular OB/GYN office, and we respect the privacy of all those who use our facilities. We can also provide various kinds of care, including abortions and treatments in other departments. We also work with psychiatrists, counselors, lawyers, police, and child protective services.

What were the challenges you faced and goals for the future?
We have accomplished a lot important things, but there are still many things we need to improve. One of the most critical things is to have a larger number of trained staff members. Currently we have 40 staff members, but in order to have a center that is open for 24 hours, we need more people. Second, it is very difficult to run this center with limited resources. We hope to receive public funding for this project. Finally,we would like to be able to work with the police more effectively. There are still police officers who do not understand the seriousness of sexual violence. We hope more and more hospitals will provide the type of service we provide at SACHICO.
Original Article on the WAN website (July 6, 2011)
Original interview conducted and article written by Sakura Furukubo
Translated and Adapted by Eiko Saeki

Talk by Mika Noro: For Mothers Living with Radiation - Wisdom for Protecting Children's Lives

Chihiro Museum (Tokyo) will hold a talk by Mika Noro on how to protect the lives of children affected by radiation. Noro's book, "For Mothers in Radiation: Wisdom to Protect Children's Lives - from Chernobyl to Fukushima" will be published on September 24, 2011. 

Noro is the representative of the Bridge to Chernobyl (Cherunobuiri e no Kakehashi), an NPO created to provide aid for children affected by the Chernobyl accident.  


Date: October 2, 2011
Time: 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Location: Chihiro Museum 
4-7-2 Shimoshakujii Nerima-ku, Tokyo 177-0042
Telephone: 03-3995-0612

Translated and Adapted by Eiko Saeki


CINEMA: Yoshiko & Yuriko (dir. Sachi Hamano, 2011)

Sachi Hamano's latest film, Yoshiko & Yuriko, will be screened at Eurospace in Shibuya from October 22, 2011. The film is based on the true story of the relationship between two women,  Yoshiko Yuasa and Yuriko Chujo (later Yuriko Miyamoto).

Yuasa was a scholar and renowned translator of Russian literature, who, during the Taisho Period (1912-1924), was involved in a relationship with Chujo, an influential proletariat writer in wartime and postwar Japan. 

Other Venues and Dates
June 18- Shizuoka Mirano (Shizuoka)
October 1-14 Kyoto Cinema (Kyoto)
October 18-21 Cinema Skhole (Nagoya)
November 19-25 Cinema e-ra (Hamamatsu)

Translated and adapted by Eiko Saeki


Lecture by Chizuko Ueno in Kyoto: The Twelve Volumes of Feminism in Japan

Chizuko Ueno, the director of Women’s Action Network and a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, will be speaking at the Nagaokakyo City Gender Equality Forum 2011 in Kyoto on January 21, 2012. The lecture is entitled “Passing the Baton” and features her experiences of coediting the twelve-volume feminist anthology, Feminism in Japan. The original series was published by Iwanami Shoten in 1994 and an augmented edition was completed in 2011.

Date: January 21, 2012
Time: 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Location: Nagaokakyo-shi Chuo Shogai Gakushu Senta (Center for Continuing Learning, Nagaokakyo City), Main Hall (third floor)

* The Center is located in front of JR Nagaokakyo Station.
Capacity: 200 seats
* Please fill out and send in the application sheet attached here. Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis.   
* Childcare services are available. Please register by January 14.
Contact: Women’s Support Center, Nagaokaky City
Tel: 050-7105-8501

Translated and Adapted by Aya Kitamura

H-WAN: Help available at Women’s Action Network

Women’s Action Network has finally launched its on-line consultation venue, H-WAN. Its first help project is “Kiyomi’s Counseling Room” led by Kiyomi Kawano, a renowned feminist counselor in Japan.  
Kiyomi Kawano has worked as a counselor at psychiatric institutions and family service centers in Japan and America. She was the first to bring “feminist counseling” to Japan in the 1970s and the founder of a feminist therapy group “Nakama” in the 1980s. As a feminist-counseling pioneer, Kawano has supported the establishment of feminist counseling rooms across Japan, and is also a leading figure in studies on the mother-daughter relationship in feminist counseling.

In this digitalized era, the Internet enables women everywhere to voice their individual problems, which many others may silently share. H-WAN aims to draw attention to women’s issues, and will gradually expand its foci to health, welfare and law.

The service is provided on the WAN website and in Japanese only. For further details regarding postings on Kiyomi’s Counseling Room, please visit:

Translated and adapted by Aya Kitamura


Open the Door! Kansai Queer Film Festival 2011

The annual Kansai Queer Film Festival for 2011 is going to be held on September 17-19 at Hephall in Osaka and on October 21-23 at the University of Kyoto’s Nishibe Hall in Kyoto. This is the largest film festival in the Kansai region of western Japan, and aims to be a site for encountering the multiplicity of sexuality and love worldwide. The Kansai Film Festival is renowned for its diversity, and this year again the featured films encompass gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and intersex themes.

In this its sixth year, the festival embraces the slogan, “Open the Door.” The schedule includes a total of twenty-nine films and twenty-five programs—some of which are free of charge—from Japan, Korea, Germany, France, Norway, Argentina, Spain, India, Canada, the US and the UK. Sixteen of the works are to be screened for the first time in Japan, and many more can only be viewed at this festival.

For more information, visit:

Translated and Adapted from the WAN website by Aya Kitamura