Women in Japanese Politics

The year 1947 was a great time for the transition and empowerment of the representation of women. Due to the strong cultural influences regarding the position of women in powerful organizations and bodies, the women are poorly represented in political positions not only in Japan but in other oriental nations as well. However, women in the history of Japan are known to take active roles in the movement and motions of politically related advocacies.

It was the 1947 constitution that defined the true equality between the men and women of Japan. It is the time where they are finally given the right to vote, enter national universities and even run for parliament. However, despite all the rights and opportunities granted by the constitution, women in the Japanese government still did not seem to improve in number in the first few decades after the ratification of the constitution.

Sociologists and experts of the field are mind boggled with the slow growth in women’s representation in politics and that they have done endless researches regarding the matter. Based on the results of their studies, one of the factors is related to the fact that political parties themselves do not provide as much opportunities to women as they do to men. The women, while the Japanese culture has molded the society in a way wherein men and women have “gender type” roles, think that it is only right that they know their place.

Improve Women’s Representation in the Work Force: Prime Minister Abe’s Mission

In the recent decades, women’s representation in politics has grown in number. The most prominent of them are known as the Ozawa Girls, as the media has nicknamed them. The Democratic Party of Japan or (DPJ) has handpicked more than 20 women to take on the line up of their rival, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). In doing so, these Ozawa Girls have significantly lifted the representation of women in the lower house parliament to over 10% for the first time in Japanese political history in 2009. Furthermore, it is in the plans and platforms of Prime Minister Abe to improve the representation of women not only in the government but generally in all aspect of Japan’s economy, particularly the workforce.

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Masayoshi Son: The Richest Japanese Man

Masayoshi Son is Japan’s richest man, valued by Forbes at about 17 Billion US dollars. His success story actually did not start from humble beginnings, and his path towards success is not the typical rags to riches skit. However, his determination towards success is already enough to serve as inspiration to any aspiring entrepreneur.

A simple fascination for microchips shot Masayoshi Son’s career into a rocket. By the time he first encountered these kinds of gadgets in the 1980s he knew that that computers and anything related to its technology will be the highest demanded product in the world. This mind set might have paved the way for his chances towards success in the industry.

Son on investments in SoftBank and Sprint

With this in mind, he thought of different kinds of innovations on a regular basis, looking for one that would promise him a future. Soon, he established SoftBank in1981, a telecommunications and internet company in Japan. Though it was off to a slow and rocky start due to the reluctance of the consumers regarding the technology, it still proved to be successful as it is now one of Japan’s leading and most prominent industries. Little by little, Son expanded his business ventures into a wider range of alternatives opening divisions in e commerce, retail and even social media. However, in the year 2000 he faced the biggest financial challenge when SoftBank and other internet or computer related industries crashed down on the market due to the dot com crash. In history, SoftBank suffered the greatest loss at around 70 billion US Dollars. Today, Son ventured on other businesses, being he founding CEO of Yahoo! Japan. He also invested on Sprint Corporation by buying 80% of its ownership. The latest addition to his business ventures would be his investment on solar energy, being a strong critic towards Japan’s dependence on nuclear power.

Other than SoftBank, Son is also known as a philanthropist, opening up charity foundations for those who are in need. His biggest and most drastic donation was his pledge to donate 120 million US Dollars to the cause of helping those who suffered the 2011 disasters in Japan. On top of that, he also pledged his remaining salary up until his retirement for the same cause.

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Of Boys and Bands

The JPOP industry made all local Japanese music popular in different parts of the world. This genre of music has been in the industry since the late 1970s when new wave groups started to fuse with Japanese music. It was a term used by the media to distinguish foreign music from the Japanese Popular Music. JPOP is not only a music genre, it also more of an identity. It has great influences in fashion, style, and many more – often mimicked by many neighboring Asian regions.

Through the years, the Japanese Popular Culture has grown into a more distinguished form of art and has reached a level of popularity that no other industry in Japan has ever reached.  Sales of music outside of Japan started to become famous and the fan base grew throughout the world. Simply put, JPOP was taking the world by storm. What made the Japanese Popular music ever so popular in the world are the boy bands that exemplify not only talents but style. They have pretty faces with strongly masculine flares. They set fashion trends, hair styles and even make up for men. Any fan girl would definitely go crazy at the sight of their favourite boy band.

Japanese Boy Bands Setting Fashion Trends

Boy bands were really popular in the 1990s however, these kinds of groups lost their lustre as ELECTRPOP, Party Music and EDM started to become popular in Hollywood and other parts of the West.  Anyone who has never listened to nor is familiar of the JPOP industry would think that Japan is rather traditional, thinking that it is unusual for this day and age to become a fan of a boy band. But, JPOP has given boy bands a new blaze for these kinds of Japanese bands play electropop and party music other than the normal romantic songs. Furthermore, among the most popular actors of today are idols from famous JPOP groups – diversifying their career from music to modelling and even acting.

Among the most popular Japanese Pop Idol Groups are Arashi, Da-Ice B’z and many more. Also popular today are girl bands or girl idol groups – setting a new image of the Japanese Kawaii. These include AKB48, Princess and Speed among others. JPOP, though only recently coined, gave the Japanese music industry a new face.

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The Stereotype of a Japanese Man

Any person looking at a particular nation will always be influenced by a particular stereotype. Though the origins of these stereotypes are unknown, one’s relationships with certain people and how they treat each other will always be affected – for both positive and negative ways. Being a unique nation, it is expected that other nations will have a specific idea of what a normal Japanese person is.

Of course, there are a lot of positive ways for which other people look at the Japanese. The first of these would be their genuine love and intelligence towards science and technology. The Japanese are known to be innovators of technology, bringing into the world the latest and the best to fit man’s needs. People have this generalization that every single Japanese man can create their own robot, which is quite ridiculous. Though it may be true that the Japanese have a passion towards science, it is definitely unrealistic to generalize this idea over all the men in the Japanese population.

Another positive Japanese stereotype is the fact that a lot of non-Japanese people look at the community as a polite, respectful and kind people. This is true not only for Japanese men but for Japanese women as well. It is in their culture to incorporate these values in their daily lives. Furthermore, the Japanese people are also known to be hardworking, leading to the trust of foreign investors towards Japan.

The World’s Image of a Japanese Man

However, there are also very negative stereotypes towards the Japanese. The first is that people have an image of Japanese men to be hard working to an extent that they spend time excessively on their work. A lot of non-Japanese people are afraid of marrying Japanese men because of this idea, in fear that they will spend too little time for family.  Another stereotype that people have about the Japanese is that they are strange. A lot of Japanese products made famous in different parts of the world are some of their unique inventions and designs. This may also be attributed to the image that media has set regarding the Japanese people. This idea seems to overpower all their other achievements and possibly their true image as well.

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The Rise and Fall of the Triple Threat Couple

The most difficult part of being in the entertainment industry is, perhaps, maintaining a lasting romantic relationship. Often, the biggest challenge to newlywed couples who are both from the entertainment industry is keeping their schedules in sync with each other. Shoots, shows and events are normally difficult to match and finding a common time to spend time together and make a family is very difficult for busy individuals.

Kuroki and Akanishi with their daughter

The same story happened to the so-called Triple Threat Couple from Japan. Jin Akanishi and Meisa Kuroki started out like a whirl wind fairy tale. Though nobody knew that they were in love, or dating for any matter, the fans were surprised when the two suddenly got married in 2012. Nobody knew how long they have been dating, or how they even started dating.  In fact, the couple kept their marriage secret and continuously denied all allegations, until a lot of the buzzing subsided. Both individuals soon released statements regarding their official marriage. Weeks after their announcement, it was rumoured that Meisa Kuroki is pregnant and soon enough they announced that she was having their first child, which happened on the same year of their marriage. It was a whirl wind romance, a sweet surprise and a match any fan would fall for. Both are prominent artists, singers on their own right. Akanishi even debuted as an actor in Hollywood for his role in the film 47 Ronin, where he acted alongside Keanu Reeves.

However, due to some circumstance, shortly after the birth of their child a lot of bad rumours plagued the relationship. The first dip was Akanishi’s termination from Johnny’s Entertainment. According to some experts, it was his punishment for going against the very strict dating ban of the company. Not only did they recently find out that he was dating, he also got married without their consent. Next was the allegation of infidelity. Though the reports are unconfirmed, it is believed that Akanishi cheated while filming 47 Ronin and Kuroko was linked to her co-star from the movie Lupin.

The weight of the problems in their marriage is taking a toll in their relationship. It is rumoured that just recently, both signed divorce papers that would officially end their marriage. However, there are no confirmations to these rumours so far.

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KPOP Lovin’ in Japan

Along with the rise and growth of the Japanese music industry, the listeners’ interests in music and entertainment have expanded beyond Japan. Among the genre of entertainment popular in Japan, next to JPOP would be KPOP or Korean Pop Culture. Other than music and its artists, South Korea also has great influence to the Showbiz industry and fashion as well. Though most Japanese would prefer their own music over others, they still appreciate the talents of the Korean counterparts of their favourite idols.

Korean Idol Group, T-ARA, in a Japanese show

Japan is a very nationalistic country and they would prefer producing whatever primarily for the benefit of their people. Due to this nature, it is also more common for them to prefer Japanese produced music, films and the like over others.  For this reason, a lot of Asian artists are always nervous with their debut in Japan. And any form of success in the said country is already a great achievement in anyone’s career. Though testing one’s career in Japan is a risk, the love of the Japanese fans will be difficult to surpass. To penetrate the rigid bubble of the Japanese entertainment industry, a lot of Korean artists learn the language. They believe that it is more respectful to speak to their audiences in their vernacular than to hire a translator. Furthermore, the fans could easily identify with their idols if they speak the same language. A lot of Korean artists actually have Japanese versions of their songs, where their singles are translated and sung in the Japanese language.  Among those Korean idol groups who enjoy a lot of fame and popularity in Japan would be the SNSD or Girl’s Generation and Kara.

In the recent years, there were a number of Korean Idol groups who debuted in Japan. These groups were even able to surpass the fame of a lot of local artists perhaps because KPOP was a new trend back then. However, in the last few years the popularity of KPOP is slowly declining. One by one, KPOP idol groups started to withdraw from their limelight in Japan because they already lost their popularity in the country. Some fans say that a huge factor of it is because of the decrease in the value of the Japanese Yen. Though it truly improves the economy in Japan, it hurts foreign investors including the Korean Music industry.

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Comfort Women against Mayor Hashimoto

The Second World War was a nightmare to anyone who ever lived through it. The suffering caused by the war for many seemed endless; victims and even heroes still remember those memories fresh in their minds like they happened only yesterday. Whoever studies, reads or listens to stories and accounts from the war would still feel an ache in their hearts while learning about all those who suffered. Pity, anger, and regret are common sentiments, where perhaps the announcement of the war’s end is the only incident where deep and true joy was experienced in the dark period in mankind’s history. However, these emotions are not true for one specific person, rousing controversies caused by his unusual views about the events. Toru Hashimoto known as the Mayor of Osaka attracted a lot of hullabaloo against himself due to his unanticipated views and statement regarding some WWII issues, particularly the dispute regarding Japan comfort women.

Mayor Hashimoto

“Comfort women” is a euphemism used to describe hundreds of thousands of women who were forced into slavery and sexual abuse by the Japanese military during the Second World War.  In 2013, the Mayor of Osaka has released some very outspoken views that definitely stirred up some anger not only in Japan but all over the world. He daringly declared that comfort women served a vital role in the war and their presence is necessary to boost the morale of the nation’s warriors. To those oblivious of these women’s “roles” during the war, it would seem that the Mayor’s view of the issue is harmless and purely nationalistic. However, this is not the case! As implied from his statement, it seemed that he was saying that the abuse of women and children along other Japanese atrocities during the Second World War are necessary even how inhumane they may be.

One historical fact that is still strongly debated up to today is the statistic that slavery, as well as prostitution, has always been irrevocably part of any war. There are evidences in history to prove that the Japanese military had involved sexual slavery of women from their former colonies, even before the WWII. This may make Hashimoto’s statement correct. On the other hand, it does not mean that what he said was acceptable – which is the main source of all the fury.

Comfort Women Protests

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Beni Arashiro, Not Your Ordinary Girl

Beni Arashiro is one of Japan’s most popular pop artists of today. She is a signed artist of Universal Studios Japan with both a solo career and a former membership of the Bishoujo Club 31, an idol group popular in the country. She is most famous for her singles including “Here Alone (2004)” and “Kiss Kiss Kiss”. She is also very famed for her close friendship with another Japanese idol named Crystal Kaye.

BENI, famous Japanese Idol

Born Beni Daniels, she grew up from a multicultural background with an American father and a Japanese mother. Her fluency in both English and Japanese became very advantageous for her in not only singing different kinds of songs but also reaching out to her fans in different parts of the world. She spent 12 years in California, USA before officially migrating back to Japan. She studied in the American School of Japan where she met and made good friends with the idol Crystal Kaye. Both had a love for music and art. Also born from musical parents, she learned piano at a very young age and was deeply exposed to the works of various musical artists from different cultures. Her influences include popular singers such as Namie Amuro, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson.

She started her musical career in 2004 and has been continuously gaining popularity in her decade long career. She has released seven albums with over 20 singles since her debut. Today, she still continues to make beautiful music with plans of releasing another album in the near future.

Other than her musical career, she is also active in a variety of activities. She used to be the ambassador for the NFL in Tokyo. She also worked as a model and face for products such as Kose Visee, Orion beer and many more. Other than that, she also became the heroine in one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s play The Beautiful Game, making her a versatile artist.  Even though her popularity and the sales of her album are not as extraordinary as other Japanese Idols, she still has incredible talent. She is consistent and hardworking, making her a role model for many of the youth in Japan.

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Japanese Child Stars and Hollywood

Child stars often have a special place in audience’s hearts because of their cute and irresistible charms. With their witty lines that can break anyone’s hearts or make anybody’s day, their appeal to the audiences reach a level that is rarely reached by older actors. Through the history of Japanese entertainment, there had been a countless number of child actors that bagged the admiration of the Japanese audiences. However, as child stars grow up there are risks to their careers. Being known as the cute or adorable character from a particular show, acting for older roles with much more mature content and daring characters is a difficulty for many. Since audiences have impressions towards them, seeing them grow up with much older roles is surprising for the viewers. It is because of this that many child actors fail in their transition towards a better and much older image. For some, growing up means better opportunities, now they can act for bigger roles with much more variety and genre that is limited for children – horror, action, romance, suspense and many more.

Jin Akanishi in 47 Ronin

One particular child actor that made it big in the Japanese Entertainment Industry would be Jin Akanishi. When he was 13, he sent an application Johnny’s Entertainment and was invited for an audition. Sadly, he failed his audition. However, due to some lucky fate he met the Johnny Kitagawa who is the founder of Johnny’s Entertainment as he was about to leave the audition. What happened next was history. Since then, he became a member of various groups and even debuted for his acting career for small roles in films and television. He became famous for his role in Gokusen. In 2013, after more than a decade in the industry he debuted in Hollywood for his role in the movie 47 Ronin.

Another child actor that already made a career even at a young age would be actress Suzuka Ohgo, who played the younger version of the lead character in the Hollywood movie Memoirs of a Geisha in 2005. Her same role also landed her the Japan Film Critic’s Award for Best New Comer. Since then, she has ventured into commercial modelling, voice acting and further her career in acting.

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The Great Teacher: Eikichi Onizuka

Every student wants to get to experience to work under the wing of an amazing and cool teacher. With the image of teachers as strict and stern, their authorities are often feared by students. A lot of teachers are kind and gentle, a parent figure towards the eyes of the students and their mentors while they are in school. What many students dream of having is an older brother or sister that will be stern but not too strict and will be like family. Students want to be with teachers who understand their difficulties and can relate to the latest trends. They like teachers who will be able to freely give them inspiration whenever they ask for advice and guidance in a lot of aspects of their lives – romance, academics, friends and even the future. The younger teachers are often those that the students can most identify with, not only do they get teachers, they also get older brothers or sisters that will not scare them for respect but be more of a role model for them.

GTO Poster

This is somewhat the theme of the Manga Seiries called GTO, only taken to a much more extreme and unrealistic level. Due to an unexpected turn of events, he decides to become a teacher. The story of how Eikichi Onizuka (the main character of GTO) became a teacher is not intentionally for guiding and mentoring the students, but it is more of a selfish attempt to fulfil his individual satisfactions. However, as he stayed longer in his work he is surprised at what a great and passionate teacher he becomes. He soon forgotten his initial goals and soon found himself enjoying teaching. He teaches the students lessons about life, taking from his difficult and rough experiences. He realizes that the system of traditional education does not fit the needs of the students and how the system has become condescending towards their students.

As rough and ragged as Onizuka can be, he decided he wanted to become the Greatest Teacher in Japan; he even has developed his own philosophies in teaching. He has bridged the gap between teachers and students and even changed the views of how average teachers look at their work.

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