• Tokyo


Regarding Sarah Fuidio’s July 5 letter, “Leveling the field for women“: July 4 was the 236th birthday of the United States, which relentlessly upholds its original constitution and the amendments. I take this occasion to express my great admiration for the U.S. Supreme Court for defending the constitution’s principles.

Women in the U.S. are better off than their counterparts here. The Japanese Constitution mentions gender four times in three articles, and I hesitate to include the paternalistic Article 26 obligating people to provide an ordinary education for “all boys and girls.” The Japanese term was shijo (children and women), which is a far cry from the current translation, which is centered on people or men. It was thought that children and women must be protected for education and household chores.

My take on Japan’s Constitution is that the more it refers to women, the worse women fare in applicable court cases. As far as their Lower House representation is concerned, Japanese women are not any better off now than when they got suffrage in 1946. The U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women ranked Japan 106th among 154 countries in its report “Women in Politics: 2012.” The Interparliamentary Union and the World Economic Forum attest to a similar predicament.

When Japan’s Constitution was promulgated in 1946, Beate Shirota Gordon, the only female participant in constitutional planning and drafting, was so elated that she is reported to have said Japan would be able to forge ahead of the U.S. in women’s rights. History proved this Austrian-born woman wrong.

Making much of International Women’s Day on March 8 in Japan does not lead to improvement in women’s status any more than setting off firecrackers on July 4 promotes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for women in the U.S.

The leveling field for women is not on the calendar; it is in court. Yet, Japan’s 15 Supreme Court justices, whose salaries run up to two times their U.S. counterparts’, turn the social tide only after making sure that no risk is involved, as on June 29 when they found in favor of a whistle-blower in a case against Olympus Corp.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

fumio sakuragi

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