*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Hard to get worked up to defend Japan's women, when its women won't.

I've barely got the energy for this, when god knows Japan's women don't.  Ayaka Shiomura dared have it, but all she gets is the perfunctory bow of yet another particularly stupid LDP member scapegoated for crimes common to them all.

An LDP tool gave voice aloud to the sexism that defines gender relations in Japan in the Tokyo assembly.  The outburst is now international news. Of 'developed nations', Japan has the worst status of women, yet women have had the vote since the American Occupation gave it to them, and done damn little with it since. They've been crucifying the tool in the media, and his resignation was very visible, but the facts that his words reflect the effective policies of his (ruling) party, Japan's society, and its voters (including its women)... don't hold your breath for these to be addressed.

Besides justice and human rights, if these weren't enough, it's beneath a man's dignity to discriminate. These are no men.  Should I clarify which men I am referring to?  How narrowly or broadly?  No, I don't really feel the need.

This is no country for my children.  I have a daughter, but that doesn't inform my superior values as I had them before she was born, although grew up without sisters.  I have a wife, who is my equal, but before I met her I did not treat girlfriends with contempt.  My father was indeed sexist: I surpassed him, as one does.  As my blog must make abundantly clear, I don't really like most women, and rabidly hate feminized environments; I do not have my head so far up my own ass that antipathy offers me any rationale to speak or do harm.

Japan?  Well, it's a sociological perpetual-motion machine, it is.  There are, however, people who will tell you it changes, except it doesn't, so far as I can tell since my first encounter in '93.  If I am wrong, it changes too slowly for me to notice, and that says rather less about me than Japan, so it amounts to me being correct.

I had an argument with my wife this morning begun because she was unwise enough to tease me that my Japanese hasn't improved in four years back here.  I could have made the safer argument that with two children and a job in English it's not like I had the time, but I set it off with honesty: why should I learn more of the language in a place I am not welcome, nor is our children's membership unremarked, and that the only interesting Japanese people I've met who did not speak English well spoke another second language?  Her real anxiety is that I will not help encourage our children to learn Japanese, as well as English, when we move back to Toronto.  We'll always have different motivations, but I have yet again assured her I will: there is value in knowing your heritage languages.  I made it clear that for my son to know how to behave, and for my daughter to take no shit, I will not mince words about what I think of gender relations in Japan, and the acquiescence of both genders to the state of them.


  1. I got sick of being told by Japanese women that I was "lucky" being from a country where women are given some rights. Like some benevolent god had thrown them down from the sky or something.

    Unfortunately, things are going backward here and, from what I've seen, in other Western countries as well. I'm not sure what Japanese women want - if you want a career after marriage, instead of whinging about lack of childcare, do something about it. The country is riddled with retired folk. Surely some of them have it together enough to take on childcare duties, or maybe look at some kind of student nanny arrangement.

    I guess if you start standing up for your rights, you run the risk of no longer being *kawaii*.

  2. The status quo in Japan is such that most people (like in many countries) believe that "Japan is for the Japanese". Fair enough. This means that all change has to come from within if it is to be to the satisfaction of the Japanese. You and I bear zero responsibility when it comes to this, which could suck for someone not Japanese raising a family here.
    It's funny, but I've been told by a few Japanese people that their least favorite word in the English language is 'Justice.'

    1. The word repudiates the world view they've been steeped in. Few westerners are Existentialist enough to say, 'Fine, fuck that, what I was taught was wrong. I'll find my own way to live in good faith.': fewer Japanese are.

      "One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!"
      - Aldous Huxley, 'Brave New World'

      Japan won't change, by them or by us. I can't say I wouldn't care if I were a single man here, though I can say I would care a great deal less than I do with a wife and children, both of them 'hafu' and one of them a girl. Japan's only changed when its 'elites' found it to their advantage to change certain things, to their advantage. Not so different than 'the West', except the population requires even less to be satisfied: Nietzsche would call it a 'slave culture', and I couldn't argue.

    2. Ahh, and there you have hit the nail on the head, sir;
      ' yet women have had the vote since the American Occupation gave it to them'.

      You see, you can't 'give' people democracy. You can't give people social modernity. They have to *earn* it for themselves, like most western countries did during the industrial revolution; the struggle of the worker for rights and representation, and all that.
      Japanese workers have been hit by the double whammy of not going through the democratization process during their own industrialization (hardly a 'revolution' when the whole thing is imported by the the Meiji Oligarchy), and then being given the 'hated peace constitution' by the occupying US (not that I don't agree with the occupation). But the end result is that Japanese women never fought for their vote, it was given to them, which is why they don't value it.

      A few years ago it was fashionable for Japan specialists to point to the US occupations democratizing effect on Japan as evidence that Iraq had a bright future. We in Japan knew better. Now the world must be looking at Iraq, then at the specialists, and asking 'what went wrong?'

    3. Yup. You don't get rights. 'Inalienable' means they already belong to you. You take them!