1st Edition

Sexual Abuse and Education in Japan In the (Inter)National Shadows

By Robert O'Mochain, Yuki Ueno Copyright 2023
    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    Bringing together two voices, practice and theory, in a collaboration that emerges from lived experience and structured reflection upon that experience, O’Mochain and Ueno show how entrenched discursive forces exert immense influence in Japanese society and how they might be most effectively challenged.

    With a psychosocial framework that draws insights from feminism, sociology, international studies, and political psychology, the authors pinpoint the motivations of the nativist right and reflect on the change of conditions that is necessary to end cultures of impunity for perpetrators of sexual abuse in Japan. Evaluating the value of the #MeToo model of activism, the authors offer insights that will encourage victims to come out of the shadows, pursue justice, and help transform Japan’s sense of identity both at home and abroad. Ueno, a female Japanese educator and O’Mochain, a non-Japanese male academic, examine the nature of sexual abuse problems both in educational contexts and in society at large through the use of surveys, interviews, and engagement with an eclectic range of academic literature. They identify the groups within society who offer the least support for women who pursue justice against perpetrators of sexual abuse. They also ask if far-right ideological extremists are fixated with proving that so called “comfort women” are higaisha-buru or “fake victims.” Japan would have much to gain on the international stage were it to fully acknowledge historical crimes of sexual violence, yet it continues to refuse to do so. O’Mochain and Ueno shed light on this puzzling refusal through recourse to the concepts of ‘international status anxiety’ and ‘male hysteria.’

    An insightful read for scholars of Japanese society, especially those concerned about its treatment of women.

    Part One: The Present Situation: An Overview, 1: Sexual abuse in Japanese society, 2: Sexual abuse in educational contexts in Japan, Part Two: Sexual abuse in Japan: A Psychosocial Exploration, 3: In the shadow of male hysteria: International status anxiety, 4: In the shadow of male hysteria: Retaliation anxiety, Part Three: Beyond the #MeToo model, 5: Transcending the past, constructing the future, 6: "Sei higaisha o kizutsukenai shakai ni”: Towards a society without victims of sexual abuse


    Robert O’Mochain is an Associate Professor at the College of International Relations, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. He has extensively researched issues surrounding masculinities, gender discrimination, and sexual violence. He is a contributor to the Routledge Handbook of the Politics of the #MeToo Movement.

    Yuki Ueno is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Japanese language, literature, and civilization at the University of Toulouse Jean Jaures, France. Her research focuses on sexualization of school uniforms in Japanese society.

    In this book, O'Mochain and Ueno capture the heart of sexual politics in contemporary Japan. At this heart is the male hysteria of a ruling elite with international status anxiety. These men react with exaggerated hostility to demands for apology for wartime crimes like those against the ‘comfort women’, and whip up movements of ‘hard masculinity’ that have no sympathy for women and children. Sexual Abuse and Education in Japan: In the (Inter)National Shadows is a book about how this environment keeps schoolgirl rape victims and other survivors of male sexual violence quiet, on the threat of disparagement as anti-Japanese ‘comfort women’. The authors judge the tactics of the global #MeToo movement unlikely successful in Japan, and offer an alternative plan of action to tackle prevalent sexual violence against women and girls in education in a country whose history is used to keep feminism down. They squarely confront the harsh reality of women's condition in 21st-century Japan while offering analyses and political possibilities that will be useful to the country's feminist movement. Readers with an interest in Japan, violence against women, and feminist international relations will be struck by the empirical evidence the authors marshall to create a far-reaching analysis of contemporary Japan and its problems of sex inequality.

    Caroline Norma, Senior lecturer, Master of Translating and Interpreting, RMIT University, Melbourne

    Sexual Abuse and Education in Japan by Robert O’Mochain and Yuki Ueno is a welcome and timely contribution to the recent English-language scholarship that has emerged from a post #MeToo Japan. The authors draw from psychosocial feminist theory and feminist international studies theory and use their judiciously collected data to explain the pervasiveness of sexual abuse in Japan, and to understand the challenges victims face when speaking out. The book draws a line between comfort women denialism at the level of the state—bolstered by ‘male hysteria’ and ‘international status anxiety’—and localised minimisation of sexual violence and victims’ inability to be heard and taken seriously. Readers are thus encouraged to think about the systemic nature of sexual violence, and in Japan especially, how combatting it requires not only important ground-level policies, but profound changes to how we approach women’s claims to victimhood. This book, with its rich interview and survey data from education settings, and thought-provoking suggestions for positive change, will be of interest to scholars and students of feminism, political science, international relations, gender studies and Asian studies.  

    Emma Dalton, Japanese lecturer, Department and Languages and Cultures, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University