In this edition, gross moé pearl divers, Out in Japan photography project, ward-recognized civil unions in Tokyo, and more.
Leslie Kee. Out in Japan.
Kee, the official photographer for Takarazuka, has just published a photography project called Out in Japan.
「OUT IN JAPAN」とは、日本のLGBTをはじめとするセクシュアル・マイノリティにスポットライトを当て、市井の人々を含む多彩なポートレートを様々なフォトグラファーが撮影し、5年間で10,000人のギャラリーを目指すプロジェクトです。
セクシュアル・マイノリティにとってカミングアウトは段階的なものであり、ひとりひとり、そのタイミングや方法は違います。カミングアウトをしないという選択をする人もいます。「OUT IN JAPAN」では、カミングアウトをしたいと願い選択する人を、やさしく受け止め応援できる社会づくりを目指しています。
“OUT IN JAPAN” is a project aimed at shining the spotlight on sexual minorities in Japan — with various acclaimed photographers taking portraits of LGBT – identified individuals from all walks of life — with the goal of showcasing 10,000 portraits in the next five years.
With the cooperation of individuals, organizations, corporations and local governments, the project is launching a website, an exhibition and a collection of photographs to familiarize the Japanese public with the presence of sexual minorities and to share accurate information and knowledge of the LGBT community.
For sexual minorities, “coming out” is a step-by-step process, and timing and how it’s done is unique to each individual’s circumstances. There are many who decide not to come out. At “OUT IN JAPAN”, we work towards building an inclusive and accepting society that will support those who are willing to come out.
Also: trans, nonmonosexual (bi/pan), poly, and genderqueer representation!
Marriage and Equality
Larry Bates. “Progress and challenges: Same-sex dads with children, in Japan.” Japan Today. 23 Oct. 2015.
An important piece on raising a third-culture family (husbands from China and the US raising children in Japan) when your relationship isn’t legally recognized in some or any of your countries of origin or residence.
The first challenge had always been immigration and renewal of visas. Without status as a married couple, we always had to find independent reasons for living here. Imagine the stress that arises when your family might be split apart in any given year because of a visa renewal problem. And to make matters worse, health insurance and a host of other legal rights derive from that marital and visa status. I will never forget the landlord who in the 1990s reneged on a lease agreement signed by my employer on discovering that my partner was male; we had no legal recourse.
Oona McGee. “Why married couples in Japan must have same surname.” Japan Today. 1 Oct. 2015.
A history of surnames in Japan and the lawsuits about separate last names for married couples (夫婦別姓), which is still illegal in Japan.
In 1996, the Justice Ministry’s Legislative Council recommended introducing a system which would allow women to choose whether they wanted to retain their maiden name or taken on the surname of their husband. Conservative lawmakers continue to oppose any changes, fearing it would be detrimental to family values and society.
With more women joining the workforce in line with Prime Minister Abe’s push to promote women in the workplace, a recent poll shows 48 percent of people support a change to the surname law. Many women feel that the same-surname requirement violates their privacy, as a name change can reveal sensitive personal events such as a divorce or re-marriage. As a result, there are a large number of women who continue to use their maiden name at work, which causes confusion.
“Japan same-sex couples recognised in two Tokyo districts.” BBC News. 5 Nov. 2015.
Hiroko Masuhara and Higashi Koyuki, LGBT activists at the forefront of the marriage-equality movement in Japan, were the first couple in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, to register.
Please note that many English-language articles framed this as two random lesbians getting married. That they are activists is important. That we understand that ward-issued civil unions are not legally the same as national marriage equality is, too.
Eleanor Warnock. “Japan Life Insurer Recognizes Same-Sex Couples.” Wall Street Journal’s Japan Real Time. 4 Nov. 2015.
Starting Wednesday, Lifenet Insurance Co. allows a policy holder to designate a same-sex partner to receive proceeds after the insured dies. Most life insurers in Japan require the insured to designate a legal spouse or close blood relative as beneficiary. Lifenet is the first insurer in Japan that has explicitly expanded its coverage to target same-sex couples.
“I hope that by having this system, there will be more acceptance of people with non-traditional families as equals by society,” Lifenet’s president, Daisuke Iwase, told reporters Wednesday.
The Male Gaze
Apparently it also goes underwater. Warning: obviously sexism, but also one of the protesters uses slut-shaming language to describe her distaste with the character.
Eric Stimson. “Pearl Diver Mascot Controversy Continues to Rage.” Anime News Network. 27 Aug. 2015.
We earlier reported on the Japanese coastal city of Shima in Mie Prefecture, which unveiled a new mascot character named Megu Aoshima in November. Shima has an ancient tradition of pearl diving carried out by women called ama who train themselves to dive about 60 feet underwater without breathing equipment, and Aoshima hopes to be one someday. She is a “bright, energetic, and a little clumsy” 17-year-old who weighs 46 kilograms (101 pounds) and is 158 centimeters tall (5’2”). She wants to be a “cute, fashionable pearl diver” but she can’t dive deep enough yet. And she’s single.
In reality, the average pearl diver is 70 years old and look quite different from Aoshima. Black wetsuits are the norm. A pearl diver’s husband also points out that she wouldn’t be able to dive with her long hair either. “This character’s appeal is based on women’s sexuality more than pearl diving,” he concludes.
I pointed this out to my girlfriend, saying “why not make a drama for tourism?” and she told me about the drama Amachan, which I hadn’t seen (because it doesn’t seem to contain any sword-fighting or gender stuff, which are my only real loves in drama).
Also, if you’re not good at your job as an ama, wouldn’t you…drown?
Got links? Send them my way!