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Japan’s women’s magazines ramp up focus on politics amid widespread concern over Abe’s security reforms

Kyodo

Public anxiety over the security legislation is in the streets — and in print.

Even women’s fashion magazines have discussed the topic alongside recipes and hemlines, in a measure of how deeply aware the public is of the changes afoot.

An edition of Shukan Josei (Women’s Weekly) published on Sept. 8 focused on women who took part in a massive rally outside the Diet on Aug. 30 in protest at the security bills.

“Dear Prime Minister Abe, Do you know why we are angry?” screamed the headline. It featured comments from a range of women who were present, including one in her 20s who had canceled plans to attend a concert that day by a popular singer.

The article ended declaring: “We don’t need a prime minister who doesn’t understand how women feel.”

In its July 14 edition, the same magazine carried a major 10-page feature about the security bills, including an interview with Seiichiro Murakami, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who opposes the legislation.

“We were surprised by the large number of responses on Twitter and on the Internet,” said Bunichi Terada, the magazine’s editor-in-chief. “A wide range of people, from those in their 20s to the elderly, are worried about the situation. We want to continue offering articles that will allow women to talk about politics.”

Meanwhile, fashion magazine Very, which targets young mothers and has a circulation of 330,000, featured the security legislation in March last year.

The article started off with “What if (legislation) to send our children to war is enacted quietly?”

It covered discussion of the subject between five 30-somethings and Noritoshi Furuichi, a sociologist.

The article gained a huge response from readers, saying it prompted them to think about the topic.

Atsushi Yoneyama, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, said about half of Very’s readers were working mothers who wanted to work, take care of their children — and be fashionable.

“They have no interest in splits within political parties,” he said.

“But that’s not the case for issues like maternity leave, which may affect them and their children.”

He said the magazine will continue to feature social issues.

“We don’t intend to lead readers” in a certain direction, he said. “We will offer information as it is.”

Seventeen, a fashion magazine for teenage girls, ran a feature titled, “Let us, the 17-year-olds, think about 70 years after the war.”

It carried comments from a high school girl who said “Article 9 of the Constitution is meant to allow (Japan) to offer support to the international community, and not for Japan to hole up.”

Keiko Ota, a lawyer who organizes public study group sessions focusing on the Constitution, said many people may have realized that they have been too indifferent on politics and social issues in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and the ensuing nuclear disaster.

“Many of the readers, in fact, are equally interested in the Constitution, security issues, adultery by celebrities, and children’s after-school activities,” Ota said.

“From now on, they may become a strong resistance force, voicing their opinions based on what’s best for the next generation.”