For more detailed information, see Ken’s three part series on the 2006 survey on domestic violence by the Cabinet Office of Japan (Gender Equality Bureau) at What Japan Thinks here.
Alternatively, for those of you more interested in domestic violence in Korea, then see here for the first installment in my series on that. Further afield, see here for information on the dramatic decrease in spouse-to-spouse murders in the US over the last 30 years (extreme, but still related), which deserves to be much more widely known.
5 thoughts on “An Introduction to Domestic Violence in Japan”
I have lived in Japan for many years. Sadly, this is report is very accurate. A close friend spent several months in a shelter in Osaka after barely surviving a beating by her husband. We have talked often about her situation and about domestic violence (DV) in Japan. However, she tells me that she can not talk with her Japanese friends about it at all. She says they will not understand. This in itself brings more stress – constantly pretending that the reason she is not with her husband is for some other reason. While it is true that Japanese society is becoming more aware of the issue of DV, not enough is being done to educate the public, to support those who have experienced it or to punish those who do it. Often it is still treated as a joke – case in point, a TV program last Sunday where the participants thought it was hilarious that one them was regularly beaten by his wife. (Yes, that is DV as well.) The poor man looked terrified and I got SO angry. As long as violence is seen as a legitimate form of expression, nothing will change… (Didn’t mean to write so much…sorry!)
A well researched and interesting report from Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reporting from Tokyo on the women who are speaking out about the problem of Domestic Violence (DV) in Japan. Although the report is well done it seems to imply at the end that nothing is going to chance for a long time about the problem of domestic violence in Japan.
Here, as in any other country in the world historically, there has been domestic violence in all types of societies, not in the least of course in societies and cultures that have taken a sexist (‘paternalistic’) view that women were not as equal as men and could be beaten and suffer abuse at the hands of their husbands.
Now, thanks to the work of volunteer women’s groups and activist lawyers in Japan who have worked hard against this problem of violence against women and children in their homes, the Japanese government enacted the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims in 2001. This was the first official recognition by Japanese politicians and law makers in Japanese history that domestic violence is in fact a crime. As a first step it was an important recognition of the widespread problem of spousal violence against women in Japanese homes throughout Japan.
However there was considerable criticism that the low financial fines on Japanese husbands who attack their wives and the limit of only 1 month long restraining orders on men who abused their wives and children did not go far enough to provide Japanese women with a credible degree of legal protection and safety from further violent attacks. The law was revised to some extent in 2004 but still met with criticism as not going far enough to protect the victims of domestic and also for not focusing on the men who are being violent toward their wives and children:
Amendments to the Domestic Violence Prevention Act were passed and became law in July 2007 but did not receive so much attention in the media as would have been desirable:
However more and more Japanese women are taking action in Japan and, like the women featured in the video above, are no longer to suffer without protest former generations have had to do without any effective legal protection. The following links are to articles on domestic violence and National Police Agency reports that have appeared in the media this year that show that modern Japanese women in 21st century Japan are standing up against violent husbands and using the existing laws to protect themselves and their children:
These brave women need and deserve stronger and even more effective legal protection for themselves and the children they are trying to protect from their own fathers hands. There needs also to be considerable public and national political will focused on providing Japanese wives and partners with safe emergency residences and legally protected abuse shelters. I think it is also of vital importance that serious decisions to provide and implement official funding to ensure that refuge and protection to all women who are suffering domestic violence of all forms.
Usually like to express my gratitude for such thoughtful and informative comments by responding in kind, but unfortunately my knowledge of the problem of domestic violence in Japan is (was) minimal, and my two daughters have been giving me less than 5 hours sleep a night for several weeks now! But thank you very much nevertheless, and I’ll try to hurry through my massive backlog of posts due in other series so that I can move to completing the one on domestic violence in Korea as soon as I can.
This is completely off-topic, but did you set your blog up for mobile viewing? I’m looking at it on my iPhone and the navigation is quite smooth.
Being on a free blog host – WordPress.com – then there’s very little I can do to change the basic architecture of my blog, so it’s all due to WordPress. Good to know though!