Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dignifying Japanese Women

Recently there have been many television news reporting the exploitation of young schoolgirls, who are lured by “telephone clubs” into the nadir of pornography and prostitution. According to statistics compiled by researchers, many schoolgirls in Tokyo, including elementary-school girls, have experienced solicitation for sex by older men, in many cases by intellectuals like teachers, doctors, government officials and even politicians. This is unusual in a country that boasts high literacy standards and economic success.

What riles me most of all is the widespread and tacit consent in Japanese society of such immorality. It is acquiescence on behalf of parents, educators and lawmakers that has allowed the obsession of the Japanese male with cuteness to mutate into an obsession that might best be described as lewd.

When I first arrived in Japan, traveling from the airport to my lodging on a cold winter’s night, I was shocked to see teenage girls wearing miniskirts as school uniforms. As the days passed, I became well acquainted with the sight of these girls in their minis. Curious, I asked many Japanese adults about this and their answer was “fashion.” If a girl does not conform with her peers, she will be the laughing stock of her school. What?I was puzzled to hear that.

I think Japanese schoolgirls’ skirts are too short to be considered as part of a decent and proper school uniform. I cannot understand why educators tolerate this kind of fashion sense of these girls, knowing they could attract attention and interest from many “hot-bloodied” predators. I can neither understand why the Japanese government has allowed magazines for adults portraying teenage girls in these uniforms nor why institutions like “telephone clubs,” “love hotels,” etc., help promote promiscuous behavior among young girls. Is this the image of the next generation of respectable and responsible women?

Before it is too late, we should open our eyes and look at this issue as a grave national problem if we really wish to bring dignity to Japanese women.I believe the government must enforce legislation to prevent minors from becoming involved in immoral activities voluntarily and severely punish violators to send the message across in male-dominated Japanese society.

I also believe feminists must come together to educate young women and oppose any institutions and practices that bring indignity to Japanese women. But most important of all, we parents must spend more spiritual time with our daughters and protect them from negative influences of society so that they can earn respect and better circumstances.All this will certainly help save the reputation of the current and future generations of Japanese women.

(This essay was first published in Mainichi Weekly on December 6, 2003)

Pedophilia: Zero Tolerance!

I can't understand why many Japanese folks are not really condemning pedophilia. It is very shocking and shameful to know that there are still many adults (even parents) in our communities who are doing almost nothing to fight against this vice. Don't we all need to take care of our children and protect them from the negative influences of society? If we don't; how can they earn respect and better circumstances?

Pedophilia is running rampant all over the world, and in advanced nations many adults; especially educators, parents, lawmakers and the police are ardently fighting against it. In Japan, however, it is not considered a serious problem. And it is very sad to know that every day, a tremendous number of Japanese girls and boys are being sexually exploited by pedophiles (even educators, doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, police officers and Buddhist monks.)

The Internet (cell phones and "Deai-kei saito" or "dating sites") has provided Japanese pedophiles with a "convenient" tool for locating unsuspecting children for their sexual pleasures. It has also provided a highway for pedophiles to connect with their buddies. They can now support each other, share "love" stories and even exchange indecent pictures. Last year, a Japanese father was arrested on suspicion of molesting his grade-school daughter; taking indecent pictures of her and sharing them on the Web with other pedophiles. He pleaded guilty, but to my great surprise, the court just scolded him and warned him not to do anything like that with his own daughter anymore: what a ROTTEN court!

I urge all responsible and decent adults to stand up and fight against this vice - pedophilia - that is destroying the moral fiber of our communities. It must be "Zero Tolerance!" If we run across a site that appears to be exploiting children, by all means, we must report it to police and urge them to take firm actions against it.

We must always pay attention when our children are surfing the Web, monitor what they are doing and who they are talking to. We, responsible adults who are concerned about the safety of children everywhere in Japan, must do our best to stop this awful crime before it is too late. We must not allow any innocent child to become the victim of these sick adults. They are tracking down, seducing and convincing our children they love them and will give them money and presents. Aren't they vicious?

Pedophiles do not have certain "appearances" that distinguish them as such. They could be married with children of their own. They could be our next door neighbors, our children's school teachers, volleyball coaches, tutors, preschool teachers, baby-sitters, or even relatives.Pedophiles tend to choose occupations that put them in close contact with children such as teaching, counseling, daycare, scouting, coaching... I am not saying that all people in these professions are pedophiles; I am sure most of them are not. I am just trying to raise awareness here in Japan, where a great deal of parents have no sense of prevention.

Here are some other safety tips for parents to protect children from pedophiles:
- Be aware of whom your children are spending their time with.
- Trust your instincts and be alert.- Do not be afraid of asking questions to your children, their peers and adults around them when you suspect something has happened.
- Listen to your children and take what they tell you seriously.
- Be concerned if your children show fear or mistrust of an adult. Children are basically honest and open about their feelings so trust their instincts, too.- Be open-minded and discuss "pedophilia" with your children.
- Discuss "pedophilia" with your children's friends, classmates, teachers, coaches, other parents, neighbors...
- Contact the police if you suspect someone of being a pedophile or you've come across a site that appears to be owned by a pedophile. Urge the police to deal seriously with the matter; if they don't, write to newspapers.- Start "ZERO TOLERANCE!" campaign in your community.
- Be very close to your children.
- Always remember this: "Prevention is better than the cure!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Extreme Nationalism, Militarism & Nukes: Deadly for Japan

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, an arson attack on a house of a lawmaker who criticized him, the popularity of the hawkish Shinzo Abe (for sure the next Premier of Japan) who is obviously promoting extreme nationalism and militarism in Japan, Former Prime Minister Nakasone and other Japanese lawmakers’ nuclear ambitions…all are signs that this nation is taking a self-destructive path again.

Public polls after Koizumi's latest pilgrimage to the shrine also have indicated rising domestic support for his visits, especially among younger Japanese, prompting concerns about a rise of nationalism.

Frankly, are nationalism, militarism and nuclear weapons really needed for the welfare of contemporary Japan?

Japan’s security was once measured in terms of its ability to fend off military attack. But under existing conditions in the world there seems little likelihood that any nation would attack Japan. It is obvious that the real front line of defense for Japan is not on any military perimeter. It is the maintenance and healthy growth of international cooperation. For this, world peace is, of course, necessary but so also is the solution of endless economic and political problems in Japan’s relations with the various countries of the world (especially China and the two Koreas).

Many Japanese politicians (Nakasone, Koizumi, Abe, Ishihara…) and ordinary citizens have always seen China and North Korea as strategic daggers pointed at the heart of Japan. But, I think world economic and diplomatic conditions now make such a concept an anachronism. A more apt figure of speech would be to describe stagnation or decline in world trade as a sword of Damocles hanging precariously above Japan’s head. The thread that supports it is threatened by a various breezes: extreme terrorism, major wars, global ecological damage, or, most probably, the inability of human beings to cooperate successfully in a situation of rapidly increasing complexity and growing tension.

One might expect that the vigor the Japanese once put into military defense would now go into the solution of the serious problems that stand in the way of effective world cooperation, for this is Japan’s great strategic frontier. But such is hardly the case. In fact, the Japanese seem remarkably passive, more like spectators at the great drama of world history than like participants in it. They tend to wait for others to take initiatives and then merely to react to these. In part it seems to be an expression of their traditional isolationism. They still seem to see Japan as somehow separate from the world. They do their best to fathom what the world may have in store for them but do not think of Japan as being a major force that will help shape the world. To other peoples they seem ready to take advantage of whatever others might develop in international relations, but unwilling to take any risks themselves. The American concept of the Japanese desire for a “free ride” has not been entirely off the mark.

The Japanese seem slow to realize that, while Japan is undoubtedly dependent on the rest of the world, what that world will be is in no small degree dependent on Japan’s role in it. It is indeed an irony--perhaps even a tragedy&--that the Japanese, while possessing the world’s >most global economy, should at the time be among its psychologically most parochial peoples. As they themselves are fond of saying, they have an “island country mentality” (shimaguni konjo).

It is doubtful that much of present world civilization would survive a general nuclear holocaust, but certainly Japan as it now exists would definitely not. As nuclear weapons proliferate, as seems probable, even localized wars, if they prevented Japan’s access to food supplies or oil resources, would certainly bring the country tumbling down. Unlimited population growth in the developing countries or growing frictions between them and the industrialized countries might lead to such disorders as to impair world trade. There is also a growing capacity for acts of international terrorism to produce chaos in an ever more closely intricately knit world. Any of these developments would have particularly serious consequences for Japan’s finely tuned economy and worldwide economical dependence.

Nakasone, Koizumi, Abe, Aso, Ishihara, so-called “Japanese nationalists” and all the Japanese:
1)Have you already forgotten Japan’s miserable past (Pacific War, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, poverty…)
2)Are you willing to punish your own nation again?

If not, use your brains and hearts; and think deeply before you act. You have no other choice but promoting important universal values such as peace, love, nonviolence, compassion, antiracism, respect for life diversity and prosperity for all human beings.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Porn too readily available in Japan

The exposure of a pedophile ring in Belgium and the children's summit is Sweden several years ago have highlighted the tragedy of children being used for pornography and prostitution. This is an international problem that is finally receiving the attention of the media and ordinary people in "advanced" nations.

We can only hope that the outcry will prompt the Japanese government to truthfully criminalize (not only a "tatemae" or an afficial stance) child pornography, but I doubt it. Not only is child pornography apparently accepted in Japan, but pornography of all kinds is readily made available to children.

Vending machines sell it on the street (even in small country towns); the manga (comic books) read by young people contain both pornographic photographs and drawings; schoolgirls disrobe in some video games; and shockingly, it is even given away as prizes in some video game centers!

Two years ago, a Japanese man who sat next to me on the plane from Fukuoka to Aomori told me that he was in a video game arcade somewhere in Tokyo; and some of the prizes offered were playing cards with pictures of naked women and pornographic videos. According to him, those videos didn't appear to be "soft porn." They were hardcore and the cover of one depicted a woman engaged in a sex act with a farm animal! Isn't it nice to think that a grade-school boy or girl could win that and take it home?

Young people should be educated about issues of sex and sexuality but not through books and videos that degrade women, abuse animals, make children "sexy" or depict rape as something a woman enjoys.

The blind acceptance of all forms of pornography in Japan is perpetuated by Japanese women who allow themselves to be portrayed in this way and who ignore what their children are being exposed to.

It is about time that women in this country stood up for themselves and their children as women have been doing in many other countries for a very long time.

People maybe have the right to produce pornography but I believe they also have the duty to control its distribution.

Japanese women (because I think most Japanese and non-Japanese men living in Japan aren't going to do it) must get pornographic vending machines off the streets, pornography out of children's comics and video game arcades, and fight have child pornography FULLY criminalized (by all means necessary) as much of the rest of the "advanced" world has done already.

Nota Bene:
For us men, if we do really love and respect women (our grandmothers, mothers, wives, girlfriends, aunts, sisters, daughters, nieces...) we must stand up and fight for their welfare and dignity!(Joel Assogba)

Quotes for Thought (Voltaire)

Voltaire is great! I would like to share some of his quotes with all of you:

1) "...the safest course is to do nothing against one's conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death."
2) "A witty saying proves nothing."
3) "All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God."
4) "Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills."
5) "Anything too stupid to be said is sung."
6) "Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."
7) "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."
8) "Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do."
9) "God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere."
10) "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."
11) "God is always on the side of the big battalions."
12) "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
13) "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."
14) "Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes."
15) "It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."
16) "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."
17) "Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers."
18) "Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination."
19) "Love truth, and pardon error."
20) "Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly."
21) "Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference."
22) "Prejudice is opinion without judgement."
23) "Regimen is superior to medicine."
24) "The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease."
25) "The multitude of books is making us ignorant."
26) "The secret of being boring is to say everything."
27) "There is a wide difference between speaking to deceive, and being silent to be impenetrable."
28) "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."
29) "To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."
30) "Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy."

Question to all:
Which one is your favorite? Why?