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Sexual harassment of women politicians in Japan

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In 2016 in Japan, three women were appointed to politically powerful and historically significant positions. Koike Yuriko became the first female governor of Tokyo, Renho Murata became the leader of the opposition party, the Democratic Party, and Inada Tomomi became only the second woman to lead the Ministry of Defence. Despite these gains, the Japanese political world can be a hostile place for women. Japan's national legislative assembly has the lowest representation of women among OECD countries, and harassment of women in politics is common. Situating Japan's experience within the emergent violence against women in politics (VAWP) literature, I draw on a 2014 survey of women politicians about their experiences of sexual harassment and from interviews with individual women politicians to examine the extent and nature of sexual harassment in Japanese politics. This is a 'hidden' problem due to ineffective legislation and a lack of awareness of what constitutes sexual harassment, even among politicians. I argue that the first step in combating sexual harassment of women in politics in Japan is to make it visible.

Key Messages

• Sexual harassment of women politicians in Japan is a serious issue, yet a mostly

• hidden one.

• The efficacy of Japan's anti sex-harassment legislation is curtailed by the nature of the law as well as by a culture of sexual exploitation of women and girls and a lack of awareness of what constitutes sexual harassment, even among politicians.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: December 2017

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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