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Sexual Violence and Gender Inequality in Japan

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Machiko Osawa 

Jan. 18, 2024 

19:00-20:30 (JST) 

Room 301, 3F, Building 10, Sophia University 

In person only / No registration required 


Raising awareness about the extent of sexual violence in Japan and the damage inflicted on individuals is essential to change the status quo. This presentation draws on quantitative and qualitative data to reveal the reality of sexual violence and victimization, which has been poorly understood and largely ignored in Japanese society. The quantitative data is drawn from a landmark2022 survey of sexual victims conducted by NHK that collected over 38,000 responses. Raising awareness about the harm caused by sexual violence is necessary, but not enough. It is a scourge that is symptomatic of Japan’s patriarchal social system where attitudes, norms, values and practices render many people marginal and vulnerable to abuse. This includes the social norm of "masculinity" and “femininity,” the education system, the labor market structure, and a tax and social security system based on a division of labor that reinforces a strict division of gender roles. Due to the harmful consequences of widespread sexual violence on people and the economy, it is incumbent on the government to offer more support for relevant services, especially civil society organizations that have been playing a key role in helping victims. In this pivotal transition from ignoring to addressing sexual violence, it is also essential to engage the police and judicial officials in ways that enhance sensitivity towards victims, and to take actions that increase accountability. 


Machiko Osawa: Professor emeritus and researcher at the Research Institute for Women and Careers at Japan Women’s University. She holds a Ph. D from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is author of several books including Building a Society Where Women Can Ask for Help: Sexual Violence and Gender Inequality in Japan. (Nishinihon Shuppansha, 2023); Why There are so Few Women Managers in the Japanese Workplace (Seikyusya, 2019); Women and Work in the 21st century, (Sayusya, 2018); and What’s Holding Back Japanese Women (Tokyo Keizai Shinposya, 2015). 


This event is organized by Tina Burrett (Associate Professor of Political Science, Sophia University).  


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