In his Dec. 26 letter, “Statistically Japan does value life,” Greg Hutchinson makes the mistake of comparing statistics from the United States and Japan as though their history, culture and tendency toward liberalism were irrelevant. After nearly 20 years here, I have come to believe that problems in Japan should be addressed as problems in Japan.
Rape in Japan should not be compared to rape in other more progressive countries without addressing the level of sexism and conceptions of rape in each country. The societal tendency to protect the fragile male ego can lead to very unusual sexual practices in a heavily paternalistic, traditional culture. A woman raised in this environment may not even have the self-esteem to recognize her own abuse. She certainly would not have confidence in her ability to report it to the authorities or to receive sympathy and support from her family.
I ask the reflexive defenders of Japan to question their own assumptions and motivations deeply before coming so quickly to Japan’s defense. Culturally and politically, we are not “all the same” as much as we might wish it were so. I, for one, will watch my daughter’s emotional development very closely as long as I live in this country.