Female journalists in Japan join forces to fight sexual harassment

The issue hit the headlines recently after the finance ministry admitted its top bureaucrat harassed a female reporter in an incident believed to be the tip of iceberg.

Published: 15th May 2018 02:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th May 2018 02:16 PM   |  A+A-

In this picture taken on January 30, 2018 Japanese journalist Shiori Ito, who accused a television newsman of raping her in 2015, poses for a picture in Tokyo. | AFP


TOKYO: Female journalists in Japan said Tuesday they were teaming up to fight sexual harassment in the media, believed to be widespread in a country where the #MeToo movement has been slow to take off.

A total of 86 women journalists have come together to form the Women in Media Network Japan (WiMN) to expose harassment and abuse, said Yoshiko Hayashi, a freelancer who formerly worked at the mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun.

"Unfortunately, discrimination against women and sexual harassment still exist among the people and entities we cover," she said, reading a statement from the group on its establishment.

"Many women in journalism felt it difficult to raise their voice out of embarrassment and fears that it would destroy the relationship with their contacts," she added.

"We were the people whose voices were unheard."

The issue hit the headlines recently after the finance ministry admitted its top bureaucrat harassed a female reporter in an incident believed to be the tip of iceberg.

The reporter, with Japan's TV Asahi, blew the whistle and Hayashi said the group had been encouraged by her refusal to suffer in silence.

"We are resolved that now is the time to eradicate sexual harassment and any other human rights infringement," Hayashi said.

The ministry came under fire for its handling of the allegations against Junichi Fukuda, who stepped down over the reporter's claim but continues to deny wrongdoing.

His retirement package was eventually reduced as a punishment, but when reports of Fukuda's alleged misconduct first emerged in a weekly magazine, Finance Minister Taro Aso appeared to dismiss them, saying he had discussed the issue with his top bureaucrat and had no plans to investigate.

An uproar over the claims ensued, and the ministry was forced to backtrack, though it earned additional criticism for calling on affected women to come forward to its lawyers.

TV Asahi, one of the nation's major networks, publicly acknowledged one of its reporters was the victim and that her boss had failed to act when she initially complained about the harassment. 

Aso has voiced his concern over "Fukuda's human rights" in the midst of accusations and said there is no such criminal charge as sexual harassment.

He has also said that the bureaucrat fell victim to a "honey trap" by the female reporter though he later retracted the remark.

 'Gender gap' -

The scandal and the ministry's perceived mishandling of the allegations have provoked a public outcry leading some to suggest the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment was finally impacting Japan.

It has also provided an additional headache for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose government is already under fire over two cronyism scandals, one of which involves the scrubbing of documents by the finance ministry.

Abe has made increasing female participation in the workforce a key plank of his economic policies, as Japan struggles with a labour shortage.

Japan ranked bottom among G7 countries in the World Economic Forum's latest "Global Gender Gap Report", coming 114th worldwide.

It scored poorly on women's participation in the economy and political involvement.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp