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Abe's Japanese Dark Ages
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-02-03 10:32:58
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I read it and I couldn’t believe it. So I read it repeatedly to realize what it was saying. A minister from Japan dared – that’s the mildest word I can come with – to say that women are “birth-giving machines”.

If the man did that from naivety then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a problem and the health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa must definitely step down from the government immediately, but if he meant it then Japan has serious problem. In my brief passage from that beautiful country I keep the most poetic memories. Mainly because the people I met there introduce me into Japanese culture and sensitivity and one thing for definite was their appreciation to the women.

Women are a major part of this culture and definitely an admired part of all their beautiful myths and stories from the past as far as Genesis. Of course, there were dark times just like there were dark times in every nation’s history but, despite Hollywood’s determination to emphasize only those times, Japanese women were an active and strong part of Japanese society.

However much I try, I cannot believe that Mr. Yanagisawa’s remark was out of naivety or wrong expression of his thoughts, I think he meant exactly what he said. Prime Minister Abe’s government, as a whole, seems that is coming out of the darkest times of Japanese history, a government that represents the most conservative part of Japanese society where patriotism has become chauvinism and their ‘return to traditional values’ attitude is an excuse for a return to a long left behind past.

Of course, as good PR demanded, Mr. Abe lectured his minister but at the same time he dismissed any question for resignation. Why should he? He is the one who often declares the necessity to return to tradition. But when it comes to an old nation like the Japanese the natural question is, which past and which traditions?

The whole problem rose with the conversation about the low-birth rates in Japan and dismissing any logical social reasons. The truth is that all the industrial countries including Europe as a whole and North America suffers from aging populations and low-birth rates. Europe at the moment is in a big conversation about the need of controlled immigration and the reason is exactly that. Life for young couples is not so simple. They are not happy any more in a small house watching their kids growing; the demands of a consuming society are high and the income small demanding from both partners to work.

Furthermore, in a society that offers equal opportunities why should a woman make a career as a mother? So instead of trying to understand and find ways to help this society the Japanese government expect with mediocre measures and declarations like "Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head, to solve the problem."

Every single word of it is an insult for me and I’m not a woman, every single word of this sentence is an insult to the human race, can Mr. Abe not see it? So please don’t tell me that the man didn’t know what he was talking about. Or after the rebirth of the nationalism we have the rebirth of the traditional society with the woman-slave and naturally that makes you suspicious of the idea of immigration. As I mentioned before Europe finds the solution through immigration but this seems to be out of question for Prime Minister Abe and his government even though neighbour countries face the problem of overpopulation and birth control – how ironic. Is Mr. Abe trying to remind us of another characteristic of these Japanese dark periods with racism and xenophobia?

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