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Women’s Rights in Tokyo


Before reading on, do you feel that gender equality is a big struggle in Tokyo?

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A brief Introduction to Tokyo

The history of Tokyo city reaches back to about 17th century. Originally, the city was named Edo, and flourished after the Tokugawa Shogunate was established in 1603. It was the center of politics and culture in Japan. During the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Emperor moved to Edo, which was then renamed Tokyo, and thus Tokyo became the capital of Japan. Today, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is striving to become the world’s best city where there is a balance between economic affluence and the citizens’ quality of life.

A brief introduction to Women’s Rights:

Throughout the world, it wasn’t until around the 1860s that there has been noticeable improvement made to the rights of women, as in 1869, Britain grants unmarried women who are householders the right to vote in local elections. However, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that women were beginning to get granted suffrage in countries around the world, while the last country didn’t grant this right until 2011. Japan, on the other hand, granted suffrage to women in 1945, but with restrictions. Though Japan wasn’t one of the latest countries to grant suffrage to women, it was among the latest in developing countries. Thus, to this day, women continue to fight for their rights in Tokyo and all around Japan.

And Why do These Two Topics Relate?

Though Japan is very progressive on gun laws and healthcare, it is surprising to note that it is not similarly progressive on gender equality. Though the first wave of feminism was during the 1930s, when Shidzue Kato advocated for greater access to birth control for women, they still do not have easy access to quality birth control. The Japanese second feminist wave in Japan began in the 1970s, led by feminist scholar Chizuko Ueno, who has been one of the women’s movement’s foremost activists and scholars. However, in response the achievements of the Japanese Feminist Movement, she said, “We struggled, found, but unfortunately, were incapable of making a real change.” However, much of this issue has to do with the Japanese culture – the ideal of being able to endure the worst situations without complaining or making a scene is central to the idea of strength and morality. However, this ideal can affect how people view sexual violence against women. For example, in the early 2000s, the Tokyo Metro Police Department worked with the East Japan Railway Company to survey women about their train experiences, and about 2/3 of the women reported that they had been sexually assaulted while riding the crowded train. Because the problem’s severity, Japanese train companies created women only cars, where most cars can be used only for women during the most crowded hours. However, though this provides a safe space for women, it is only a temporary solution to a long term problem. Thus, held in a progressive city such as Tokyo is a set of unprogressive norms on gender equality. 

How can this app help? 

This app can help by providing information about this popular, but unique city and how to get in and around it. Furthermore, it informs the public that even though some cities may seem very “modern” or “advanced”, it still has its underlying issues that need to be solved. Thus, hopefully after their newfound knowledge, people will be motivated to make a difference for women around the world, including Tokyo.

Japanese girls interviewed about their opinion on the gender gap

After looking through the above media, do you feel a change in the way you viewed the first question?

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