www.japantimes.co.jp

Masateru Shiraishi #homophobia japantimes.co.jp

A local politician of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has come under fire for claiming last month that his north Tokyo ward would "cease to exist" if the rights of sexual minorities are protected by law.

"This is impossible, but if all Japanese women were lesbian or all Japanese men were gay, then do you think the next generation of people will be born?" Masateru Shiraishi asked on Sept. 25 at an assembly session of Tokyo's Adachi Ward, in comments that appeared to blame sexual minorities for Japan's falling number of births.

The 78-year-old assemblyman made the remark when asking local government officials about the ward's total fertility rate — the average number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime.

Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Japan, but pressure from members of the LGBT community and their allies for marriage equality has resulted in some changes at the local level, with more than 50 municipalities across the country including Tokyo's Shibuya Ward issuing "partnership certificates" to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples.

"I do not intend to intervene in the life of someone who is lesbian or gay," the veteran assembly member said. But he added, "Getting married, having children and raising them in a normal way is very important for people," arguing it is crucial to teach such views to students at schools.

Yuko Tojo #fundie japantimes.co.jp

Yuko Tojo, the granddaughter of convicted Class-A war criminal Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo, died of interstitial pneumonia Wednesday. She was 73.

Tojo, whose real name was Yoshie Iwanami, was born on the Korean Peninsula in May 1939 to Hidetaka Tojo, the eldest son of Hideki Tojo, while the peninsula was under Japan’s colonial rule.

[...]

His granddaughter is widely known for unsuccessfully running as an independent candidate in the 2007 Upper House election, in which she based her controversial campaign “on regaining the pride and honor of Japan.”

“Japan did not fight a war of aggression,” Tojo said of the country’s past militaristic aggression during an interview with The Japan Times in 2007, claiming the Imperial Japanese Army was fighting to prevent the colonization of Asia by Western powers.

One of her campaign vows included demanding that prime ministers and the Emperor visit Yasukuni Shrine, where the nation’s war dead are enshrined — as well as her grandfather and other Class-A war criminals. She also pledged to submit a resolution to the Diet condemning the August 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States.

During a speech in Tokyo in July 2007, she denied that the Imperial army had coerced Asian women and girls to work as sex slaves at frontline brothels during the war, and also dismissed the Nanjing Massacre, which historians estimate killed up to 300,000 Chinese, as “a lie.”

Her campaign, however, only garnered around 60,000 votes — or 1 percent of the total ballots cast.

Ayako Sono #racist japantimes.co.jp

Public outrage over what is widely seen as a pro-apartheid column penned by conservative author Ayako Sono has shown no sign of abating more than a week after its publication.

As of Friday morning, 111 university professors and scholars nationwide had expressed their support for a letter of protest by some members of the Kyoto-based Japan Association for African Studies in which they called for the column to be retracted.

The letter, submitted to Sono and the Sankei Shimbun on Monday, argues that the author’s stance that immigrants should live in segregated communities is tantamount to defending South Africa’s apartheid policies and deserved international condemnation.

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For her part, Sono, who is also a former member of an education reform panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said in a statement to The Japan Times on Thursday that she has no intention of retracting the column as she believes that doing so would be equal to “forfeiting freedom of expression.”

She also said she never intended to praise the apartheid system.

Instead, Sono said, her intention was to encourage people of different races to live “separately by choice.” In South American cities such as the Peruvian capital of Lima, there are dedicated colonies for Japanese “nikkei” immigrants where both the Japanese language and culture are kept intact, she said.

“Likewise in Japan, there are communities for Brazilian immigrants. These communities sprang up almost spontaneously, but none is actually segregated. People live in such areas if they want, and come in and out of them as they wish,” Sono said. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with such a style of living separately by choice.”

But her Feb. 11 Sankei Shimbun column has nonetheless widely been seen as encouraging apartheid. In it, the 83-year-old writer suggested that while Japan should embrace more foreign immigrants to make up for the labor shortage, they should live apart from mainstream society.

“Since learning about the situation in South Africa 20 or 30 years ago, I’ve come to think that whites, Asians and blacks should live separately,” she wrote.