Kris Avila examines two crossdressing manga from the 2000s and the way the genre’s gender play often returns to supposed essentialist “truths” about men and women.
While it’s best known for its absurd comedy, for Meg Ross the show’s dedication showing to slow, dogged, sometimes stumbling recovery left a special mark.
End-of-year licenses are surfacing—anything you’re looking forward to?
The Japanese Rebel Who’s Fighting the Tyranny of High Heels (The New York Times, Motoko Rich)
An interview with Ishikawa Yumi, who’s become the face of the push to abolish dress codes requiring high heels in Japan.
You work as a model. What is the culture of modeling in Japan?
When I first worked as a swimsuit model for videos and magazines, I got the impression that female models were not respected enough. Editors or directors did not regard our opinions at all. There was no real physical violence, but the agents or editors would force models to do things they did not want to do, even until they cried. Images that I did not consent to be published, were published anyway. They made me put on swimsuits that exposed more of my body than I wanted, and yet they ran the photos.
At that time, I believed that was an unavoidable thing as a model. The adults around me were saying, “This won’t sell unless you do this.” The other female models themselves would say, “We just have to accept it.” But after 2017’s #MeToo movement, I finally realized that this could be a crime, and it was very natural for me to get upset or angry at these demands.
Creating LGBT-friendly work environments (NHK World-Japan, Nakagawa Saori)
Work With Pride is an organization that helps train companies to be more inclusive in their hiring and workplace practices.
Recently, a telecommunications company hoping to diversify its workforce reached out to Hoshi. He was asked to host a ceremony for new employees. Hoshi took the opportunity to conduct a training exercise. He asked the students to discuss various types of discrimination. At the end he surprised the students by revealing that four of the attendees were not potential employees, but members of the LGBT community who had been secretly planted among them. “I had no idea. Now, I’m worried I may have said something rude before they were pointed out to us,” said one participant.
Another said the phrase that will stick with them is ‘unintended discrimination.’ “I want to try to avoid hurting people with my words,” she said.
The push for change in the 2010s: The first step is recognizing the problem (The Japan Times, Baye McNeil)
A retrospective tentatively hopeful about signs of slowly increasing awareness and sensitivity in Japan about the country’s history of racism against racial and ethnic minorities, particularly dark-skinned individuals.
What we started seeing toward the close of the decade, however, is that some Japanese companies are beginning to understand that Japan’s (ancient) history of isolation and the country’s ignorance of what constitutes an offense are no longer acceptable excuses for this kind of questionable behavior. They’re starting to get that in order to gain a better understanding of the changing social climate — and financially benefit from it — they need to take some responsibility and be proactive.
Some major media organizations, such as Asahi and TBS, have embraced the changing dynamics of Japan — the increase in tourism, immigration, international marriages, mixed-race children and the identities of LGBTQIA individuals. In short, they’re getting the idea that their customers are diverse.
TBS even invited yours truly to conduct a seminar for its employees (which was televised) so that the staff and the station’s viewers could gain a better understanding of how and why racialized depictions like blackface and whiteface are offensive and need to stop. Actions speak louder than apologies.
Court sides with transgender woman on toilet use at ministry (The Asahi Shimbun, Niiya Eri, Nikaido Yuki, and Kitazawa Takuya)
The woman was unable to undergo surgery due to health reasons, which barred her from having her gender marker legally changed. Other female employees also reported “concerns” about sharing their bathroom.
The court pointed out that the employee had a high degree of gender awareness as a woman because she had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder and had undergone hormone treatment.
Under such circumstances, the court said it would be difficult for her to use the men’s toilet.
The ruling said that social changes have led to “strong awareness in Japan about the importance of providing a work environment in which transgender employees can work without problems.”
The court not only ruled that the ministry’s measures were illegal, but it also took issue with the comment of a superior.
The superior told the employee, “If you are not going to undergo the surgical procedure, why don’t you revert back to a man?”
The court said that comment went beyond legal limits.
The plaintiff also said ministry officials had demanded that she reveal her sexual identity to female colleagues if she was transferred to a different post.
The Indigenous Ryukyu People of Okinawa (Unseen Japan, Krys Suzuki)
A brief history of the Ryukyu Kingdom and its descendants.
The Ryukyu Kingdom was the first documented civilization on these islands. However, archaeological evidence points to life existing here way before then. Unfortunately, not much is known about these very early people, leading to many questions about the precise history of early Okinawans.
Currently, Japanese authorities recognize present-day indigenous Ryukyu/Okinawan people as a subgroup of descendants of the Yamato (the ancestors of Japan). However, some genetic and anthropological studies reveal that Ryukyuan people are more closely related to the indigenous Ainu people who lived in Japan before the colonization of Hokkaido. The reasoning is the shared ancestry with East Asian migrants during the Jomon and Yayoi Periods.
Kawasaki enacts criminal action for hate speech, a first in Japan (The Asahi Shimbun)
Other cities’ anti-hate speech ordinances do not have criminal punishment.
Similar ordinances introduced by Osaka city, the Tokyo metropolitan government and other municipalities do not stipulate a criminal penalty.
The criminal punishment section of the Kawasaki city ordinance will come into effect in July 2020. Hate speech perpetrators who repeatedly use discriminatory words toward residents with roots in foreign countries and their descendants could face a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($4,600).
The ordinance targets behavior including remarks such as “Get out of Japan,” “You should die” and “You are a cockroach” in public places, using loudspeakers, banners, fliers and other means.
VIDEO: A visit to a school for Chosen-seki Koreans, the descendants of Koreans who came (voluntarily or forcibly) to Japan in the 1930s and who don’t claim identity as North- or South Koreans.
THREAD: On the censorship of queer content in Singapore
THREAD: Rundown of abuse allegations against Ben Judd, CEO of DDM Japan and DANGEN Entertainment (Judd reportedly stepped down in the wake of these allegations)
THREAD: Appreciation thread for influential queer artist Rune Naitō
Lots to get excited about, from old to new!