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!"