During a recent discussion on Bunka Hoso's radio talk show, "Golden Radio," about sexual misconduct in the U.S., the participants wondered if the #MeToo social media movement would catch on in Japan. "Me Too" as a movement was started more than a decade ago by American social activist Tarana Burke to call attention to widespread sexual harassment, particularly in underprivileged communities. Now, on social media, women of all walks of life are encouraged to come out and describe their experiences of being sexually harassed. The host of "Golden Radio," Makoto Otake, found the news puzzling.
"America has powerful opinions about human rights," he said, "My image of American women's rights is that it's strong, so it's hard to imagine this happening now." What Otake couldn't imagine is American women not standing up to sexual harassment earlier. What must he think of the way Japanese women address the problem?
A 2014 Cabinet survey found that only 4.3 percent of women who say they were victims of sexual violence reported the incident. In July, the Sex Crime Law was revised for the first time since 1907, allowing harsher sentences for those convicted of sex crimes and indictments that don't require victims to press charges. Nevertheless, hurdles remain. Attorney Yukiko Tsunoda, in a recent Tokyo Shimbun article, pointed out that merely accusing someone of sexual assault is not enough for a conviction. That's why she wants the #MeToo campaign promoted aggressively in Japan. In order for any progress to be made in eliminating everyday sexual harassment, more victims must feel able to come forward and name their offenders.