WeToo replaces MeToo in Japan’s victim-blaming society

A college student, Monica Fukuhara, was working at a restaurant when something happened to her. As she was saying goodbye to a customer, he grabbed her chest. The man was a valued regular and she was a part-time waitress. The manager simply shrugged.

 

She said that Japanese society makes it difficult for sexual harassment victims to talk about their experiences because of shame and victim-blaming.

 

So, in a society that looks the other way on sexual harassment and abuse, the #WeToo hashtag is to be used in social media not only by victims but by those wanting an end to harassment.

 

photo credit to: https://www.politico.eu

 

A group of activists launched #WeTooJapan in February after deciding they needed a lot of support. They say it goes beyond the self-identification of victims in the Me Too movement started in the U.S. last year.

 

Their cause has struck hard. According to organizers’ estimates, a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered in Tokyo last month for a protest over sexual violence. Their slogan was “I Will Not Remain Silent”.

 

The previous week, approximately 20 female and male opposition party lawmakers held up posters bearing the #MeToo slogan in the Diet. Members gathered for a hearing on the sexual harassment scandal involving the Finance Ministry’s former top bureaucrat.

 

About 70% of rape and sexual harassment victims in Japan say they never told anyone about their ordeal and only 4% have reported such crimes to police. These statistics come after a government survey conducted in 2015.

 

By comparison, the U.S. Justice Department in that year said almost 33% of rape and sexual harassment crimes in the U.S. were reported.

 

Japan has been very slow to the MeToo movement compared with other countries. Protests and growing support for victims show attitudes may slowly be starting to change.

 

Reference: Me Too becomes We Too in victim-blaming Japan

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