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Japenses Feminism Written Out of History by U.S. Feminism

men did not start anti-rape movement in Japan

Forum: Letter to Women's eNews
Date: 04/17/2003

Hello WeNews Editors,

My name is Emi Koyama and I am the Community Board Chair of Survivor Project, a Portland, Oregon based organization. I also started the first Japanese language web site about sexual assault, which started in 1994.

On 4/17/03 2:11 AM, "" wrote:

Yanagishita discovered the counseling services offered by JUST, Japanese Union for Survivors of Trauma, a nongovernmental organization offering support for women who have been raped or sexually abused. The group, which began operating in 1997, this year became the first organization in Japan to offer an advocacy service for victims of sexual violence. also at:

Actually, there have been many (okay, not that many, but some) feminist organizations offering such services for a long time in Japan. For example, the Tokyo Rape Crisis Center was founded in 1983 and has been operating the crisis line since. Looking through JUST's web site, I was unable to find any claim of being the first in Japan either.

I am however pretty sure the cause for this particular miscommunication. Within Japanese feminist circles, the word "advocacy" is defined SPECIFICALLY and ONLY to court advocacy, in which members of the group would accompany a woman to the court. In other words, crisis lines, conuselors, shelters, support groups, and other services (while important) are not called "advocacy" in Japan. I became aware of this fact because one of my papers about domestic violence is currently being translated into Japanese for publication there, and I was puzzled that my translators consistently mis-translated the word "advocacy" when I used it outside of this specific definition (I can read--but not write in--Japanese). So perhaps JUST is the first organization to provide this specific kind of advocacy--but it is definitely not the case that it is the first to provide advocacy services in general.

You might also want to note another aspect that JUST is unique on: it is a male-dominated organization, unlike other anti-rape groups that existed in Japan. JUST is founded by a male psychiatrist, with the board of directors consisting of eight men and just one woman. It is sad to see that this male-run organization get all the attention even in a feminist newswire, while all the feminist organizing in the past two decades get written out of history.

Also, a minor (irrelevant) correction: the Law for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims was passed in April 2001, not October. Portions of the law did go into effect in October, although it was not until April 2002 that all provisions of the law did.


Emi Koyama
Community Board Chair, Survivor Project