Regarding the Aug. 8 Japan Pulse column “Telework gives Japan’s dads time to help kids with homework over summer break,” I have been lucky enough to rarely experience overt misogyny in my life. However, living in Japan recently, I witnessed a level of sexism so blatant that I was shocked. I had no idea this level of distaste for women still existed. From the 2007 statement by the health minister that “women are child-bearing machines” to the 2019 statement that high-heels requirements are “necessary and appropriate,” misogyny is so deeply ingrained in the mindset of the Japanese government that it will take clear and powerful action to fight it.
When I read the Japan Pulse column, this was once again at the front of my mind. This headline is a great example of the type of subtle sexism that women experience in Japan on a regular basis. Why does this article only acknowledge working fathers? Why is there any need to specify the gender of the parents discussed in this article? This erases any mothers with careers from the story. This is not an attack on the female author’s journalistic skills. I’d rather like to highlight that misogyny is so ingrained in the lives of women in Japan that it can often become internalized. Women can make the same sexist mistakes that erase women from the story.
I absolutely loved living in Japan, but I had the benefit of working for a company that was considerably more progressive that most Japanese firms in terms of the rights of women and other minorities. The first step to change is acknowledging the problem. With the recent #KuToo movement, the problem of misogyny and sexism in Japan is finally being truly acknowledged thanks to the efforts of some strong women. Now it’s time for the government and Japanese firms to take action.
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.