Organized Panel Session
This paper explores sexual harassment of women in Japanese politics by placing the country in the context of emergent research and activism concerned with Violence Against Women in Politics (VAWP). VAWP has recently been acknowledged and named as a serious threat to women’s rights and democracy. From Pakistan to Brazil to the United States, VAWP occurs around the world and has been recognized as having the aim and, in some cases, the effect of constraining women’s participation in political processes, including voting, running for election, and policy-making. VAWP includes the sexual harassment of candidates or incumbents, prohibiting women from voting, physical violence, and many other acts of violence. The first step to combatting VAWP is to name it; that is, to acknowledge that women politicians are the targets of gender-based abuse because they are women. In Japan, the sexual harassment of women politicians is a serious problem that has only recently come to light. This paper argues that despite the recent media spotlight on the issue due to some high-profile incidents, the sexual harassment of women politicians remains a largely hidden problem. Reasons for this include a) politics is extremely male-dominated and is regarded as a job for men, b) the issue of sexual harassment in Japan is still not taken seriously by many, including policy-makers and, c) sexual harassment in politics is seen by many, including women, as ‘part of the job’.
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