To Be Involved with People in a Non-Mother Tongue --- "Suki Yaki" by Yang Yi

"Suki Yaki"
Written by Yang Yi
(Shincho Bunko, Shinchosya, 27/04/2012)
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Hong Zhi, called Koko-chan, is a Chinese student who attends a third-rate private university in Japan. Not being good at studying, she failed the entrance examination in China and came to Japan counting on her sister who is married to a Japanese. Encouraged by the sister, she starts working part-time at an exclusive beef nabe [hot pot] shop in Den-en-chofu. In this book Suki Yaki everyday life of Koko-chan is described who is leading a Japanese-speaking life while living with her sister’s family.

Koko-chan, who struggles with putting on a kimono, meets various regular customers in the shop --- a rich man and bar girl couple,  an old couple whose wife is suffering from dementia, a man frequenting this expensive place disproportionate to his income because he wants to see a waitress, and etc.

Koko-chan hovers between the shop manager who has a plain face with narrow eyes and Korean student Ryuyu Hyeon Cheol who is crazy about her. And the communication between Koko-chan and Ryuyu is funny. That reminds me of my experience where all of us were desperate to communicate with the other foreign students in a language other than our native tongues.

But, while Koko-chan comes into contact with foreign cultures at a beef nabe shop, the customers here and the kimono are in fact foreign cultures even to me as a Japanese. I don’t have any kimonos, not to mention being able to wear one by myself.


Original article written by lita (http://wan.or.jp/book/?p=4119)

Translated by A. Tawara

The Sacrifice of Backlash --- Dismissal of Head of Gender Equality Center edited by Mariko Mitsui and Mutsuko Asakura

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“Backlash” refers to right-wing movements which detest gender equality. “The head of a gender equality center” refers to myself. I was the head of STEP, a gender equality center in Toyonaka, Osaka. Backlash movements are prevailing all over Japan, spreading false rumors and threatening people. They exclude books and teachers that oppose their ideology from the society and water down the gender equality policies. This prevents the government from implementing the policies, withering them rapidly. The same can be said about Toyonaka. The local government gave in and dismissed me from the head of the center. The government sacrificed me to the backlash movement.

I filed a lawsuit against the decision and the case lasted for 7 years, ending up in the Supreme Court. And finally last year, the Supreme Court judged that the dismissal was unfair and underhand, and it invaded my personal right. This became final and binding, bringing a historical victory to supporters of gender equality. We successfully counterattacked the backlash movement in Japan for the first time in the solidarity with the defense lawyers, scholars and supporters.

This book, The Sacrifice of Backlash, comprises my essay based on the massive statements submitted to the Osaka District Court, “The Theory of Personal Right Invasion” by Professor Mutsuko Asakura, memoirs on the trial by Katsuko Terasawa and Mitsuko Miyaji, the attorneys who supervised the lawsuit, and a timeline of the trial. The book also includes the flyers, conversations, newspaper articles and photographs of the trial.

Nothing would make me happier, if our readers would realize "the terror of Fascism” from the viewpoint of gender equality.

Original article written by Mariko Mitsui, the editor (http://wan.or.jp/book/?p=4013)

Translated by N. Tajima


Words to Say about "Women's Body"

In the anti-nuclear movement up to now, some women have stated their opinions from the viewpoint of a mother and others have criticized them, as pointed out by Ms. Ida and Ms. Furukubo. The conflict comes from the fact that women end up taking a role as caretakers while they are pinpointed into the stereotypical gender roles, and that “mother” exists at the point where these roles meet.

When the element of body is added to “mother,” the words of these statements intensify rapidly.

Since 3.11, various statements on exposure and childbearing have been made. They were so point-blank that I felt as if I was told that women live only to bear children.

I wonder since when the concept of eugenics has been so pervasive. I was so scared because I felt like my body was engulfed into the dark current of those words.

The scare is still stuck in me. It stings my feeling when women, their body, their exisistance are referred to only as “mother” (Ms. Ohashi also talks about this uncomfortable feelings concerning the way the word “mother” is used).

Ms. Yauchi mentioned Mitsu Tanaka in her article. Tanaka described the division of women between “mother” and “whore” using the phrase “the liberation from the toilet”. Woman lib movement rebelled against the norm imposed on women and mounted a campaign against the corruption of Eugenic Protection Act.

Of course, many women had thought, talked about, and been angry about women’s body before that. I wonder how much of this accumulation has ever been reflected in the words about 3.11 and childbearing. This evokes a different kind of anger inside of me.

“Inochi no Onna-tachi he---Torimidashi Women's Live Ron” 
[To Women of Life---Distraught Theory of Women's Live]
Written by Mitsu Tanaka  (Pandra, 05/2010)

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“Haha yo! Korosuna” [Don't Kill, Mothers!]
Written by Koichi Yokozuka  (Seikatsu Shoin, 09/2007)

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I’d like to review some recent manga [comics] here. in these manga, I think women today talk about their body with the words developed by women of former generations.

“Jounetsu no Are 1” [Passionate It] 
Written by Hanayo Hanatsu
(Queen’s Comics, Shueisya, 19/04/2010)

The heroine of this manga is a woman who is worried about the no-sex relationship with her live-in partner. As her desires conflict with his sexually conservative words and actions and with her own idea of sex being something shameful, their relationship has been awkward. One day she gets to help the job of her mother who sells sex toys, and while meeting many different people and keeping asking herself questions, starts to change her view on sex. Little by little she is getting back her own body which she used to feel as trash.

The way the matters concerning her own body harm her is truly heartrending.

“Boku no Neichan” [My Sis]

Written by Miri Masuda

(Magazine House, 15/09/2011)

This manga describes everyday life of a sister and her younger borther. She keeps shattering her brother's fantsy about women with sharp, accurate words. The brother says to the sister, who has been looking at her nails just after she had them painted at a salon, “Men do not care women’s nails anyway.”  She replies, “You always get stiff shoulders and back pain after a nail salon, since you have to stay seated in a fixed position for such a long time. How could you do that for other than yourself?” She continues, “We grow up in an atmosphere that "being pretty" should be the top priority for a woman. But not every woman can work that out. And so I guess we all want to have something pretty that we can obtain easily.”

Yes. I want to wear pretty clothes and put on pretty things for myself. My body exists for the sake of myself, not for anybody else.

“Beautiful People, Perfect World”
Written by Eri Sakai
(Kiki Comics, Shogakukan, 30/11/2010)

This manga is set in the near future, when having cosmetic surgery is common practice. Yamamoto, a junior high school student, is one of few “untouched” in such a world. She misrepresents her age and is working at a hostess club specialized in busu [dingos] because her family is poor. At the club, many employees who could not attract customers in normal clubs have had “reverse surgery” to become ugly to entertain geeks. Being a “real busu,” Yamamoto is very popular and earn a good income there. She actually has had surgery for elsewhere of her body though. She has taken a huge bank loan for the wings attached to her back.

Not being rich, she knows all too well that she could never be a winner in life even if she fixed her face a little bit. (Pursuing beauty costs a lot of money.) What she chose was the wings which were totally useless. That is the body she has acquired.


Mitsu Tanaka says she wants to stand tall without caring what people say about her, but that at the same time she wants to look as young as possible.*  She admits that this contradictory existence is her who "is here as a woman." Women are bothered by their own desires.Women try to be “pretty” and people assume they do so in order to get men’s attention. I feel I’m conneceted to that sort of woman’s body spoken here, but I felt there is nobody like ”the mother” spoken in the context of 3.11 and the exposure. The woman’s body isn’t a “machine to reproduce children”.

*Asahi Shinbun, March 2, 2011 “’Onna’ de Arisugita Yoko Nagata” [Yoko Nagata, Who Was Too Much of a “Woman”]

Original article written by Akiko Hori (http://wan.or.jp/book/?p=4036)
Translated by N. Tajima and A. Tawara


Seeking Solutions to the Issue of Comfort Women --- The 1000th "Wednesday Protest" in Seoul on Dec. 14, 2011

The 1000th Protest and Japanese Supporters

In August 1991, former “comfort women,” (Korean women who were forced to serve as sex workers for the Imperial Japanese Army) including Kim Hak-Sun, started to raise their voices. Before then, the issue had only been discussed quietly here and there in postwar Japanese society. Some of these testimonies came from soldiers, partly as romanticized memories of their time spent with these women.

One such witness is Shigeru Mizuki, a well-known Japanese comic artist, who gave detailed descriptions of a “comfort station,” or brothel, in his book “Soin Gyokusai Seyo [All of You Shall Die for Honor]” (pp. 14-15.) based on his own experience. In the afterward of his book, he wrote, “I can’t help but feel irrational resentment when I write war chronicles. Maybe the spirits of the war dead make me feel like that.” There Mizuki told of a soldier who shouted, “Thirty seconds for each!” and another who said, “Hey Sis, about 70 more to go. Be patient,” when  looking at the long queue in front of the station. It’s an important historical testimony, which proves how the Japanese army set up comfort stations in the very front lines at that time.

The existence of comfort women, which had been a silent issue, almost forgotten in postwar Japan, came to the foreground in 1991. That was when the surviving comfort women started to talk about their own experiences. Women who were forced into providing sexual services started making people aware that the “comfort women” system had been nothing but sexual slavery. Until then, discussion of the issue had been long considered taboo in Korea, and many victims hadn’t been able to talk about it at all, even with their families.

In January 1991, some of Korea’s former comfort women and their supporters started a protest march in the busy lunch-time street in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. They had only one demand: acknowledgment of this past crime in the form of an apology from the Japanese government to each and every one of the former comfort women still living. The apology — meant to make the Japanese public widely aware of the harm done to these women as a historical fact — includes a vow to never repeat the same mistake, and to acknowledge that the issue has not yet been settled legally.

Every week for the past 20 years, 1,000 times now since its beginning, they have continued the Wednesday protest. On December 14th, 2011, the group marked its 1000th protest. Simultaneous protests were also held in several places in Japan, and were attacked relentlessly by vocal opponents.

In Osaka, some shouted “Liars!” at the protesting women even though the Japanese government had already acknowledged the existence of “comfort places” and “comfort women” based on official wartime documents. A high school girl responded to the opponents by saying, “I wish it were a lie.” Don’t we all. More than anyone, the victims no doubt  strongly wish that their gruesome experiences were just a nightmare.

On the 1000th day in Seoul, Kwon Hae-Hyo, who was acting as the M.C. of the event, put it this way: “The harumonis’ [Korean words meaning “old women”] wish is that they won’t need to hold the Wednesday protest anymore after next week.”

On that day three actresses presented the Harumoni’s feelings in a Korean translation of the following monologue by Eve Ensler.

By courtesy of Eve Ensler and V-Day

Each year in conjunction with the V-Day Spotlight, Eve pens a new monologue. This is her monologue based on the testimonies of the 'Comfort Women.'

Say It
By Eve Ensler

Our stories only exist inside our heads

Inside our ravaged bodies

Inside a time and space of war

And emptiness

There is no paper trail

Nothing official on the books

Only conscience

Only this.

What we were promised:

That I would save my father if I went with them

That I would find a job

That it was better there

That I would serve the country

What we found:

No mountains

No trees

No water

Yellow sand

A desert

A warehouse full of tears

Thousands of worried girls

My braid cut against my will

No time to wear panties

What we were forced to do:

Change our names

Wear one piece dresses with

A button that opened easily

50 Japanese soldiers a day

Sometimes there would be a ship of them

Strange barbaric things

Do it even when we bleed

There were so many

Some wouldn't take off their clothes

Just took out their penis

So many men I couldn't walk

I couldn't stretch my legs

I couldn't bend

I couldn't.

What they did to us over and over:



Tore bloody inside out






What we saw:

A girl drinking chemicals in the bathroom

A girl killed by a bomb

A girl beaten with a rifle over and over

A girl's malnourished body dumped in the river

To drown.

What we weren't allowed to do:

Wash ourselves

Go to the doctor

Use a condom

Run away

Keep my baby

Ask him to stop.

What we caught:






Heart disease

Nervous breakdowns


What we were fed:


Miso soup

Turnip pickle


Miso Soup

Turnip Pickle

Rice Rice Rice

What we became:










What we were left with:


A shocked father who never recovered

And died.

No wages

Hatred of Men

No children

No house

A space where a uterus once was





What we got called:

Ianfu--Comfort Women

Shugyofu--Women Of Indecent Occupation

What we felt:

My chest still trembles

What got taken:

The springtime

My life

What we are:








Outside the Japanese Embassy every Tuesday

No longer afraid

What we want:

Now soon
Before we're gone

And our stories leave this world,

Leave our heads

Japanese government

Say it


We are sorry, Comfort Women

Say it to me

We are sorry to me

We are sorry to me

To me

To me

To me

Say it.

Say sorry

Say we are sorry

Say Me

See Me

Say it


Original article written by Yayo Okano    http://wan.or.jp/topic/?p=208
Translated by A. Tawara, N. Tajima and O. Schaefer

You can also see a video report (in Japanese) on this topic here.