AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Archive for the ‘Sex’ Category

Ichigen koji (268)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 23, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

Women in their 20s always make a particularly bad choice when selecting from among the young men who approach them and give them attention. They’ve refined their eye for selecting men by the time they’re in their 30s, and they will approach good men themselves. But those men are already with another woman, so it’s very difficult for the new women to supplant them. Actually, I think it should be the other way around, but…

- Fujisawa Kazuki

Posted in Quotations, Sex | Tagged: | 67 Comments »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 1 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, December 15, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Here is Part One.

*****

THE furor over the comfort women erupted again last year. This is the fourth time. The first started in 1991, when the Asahi Shimbun printed the error-filled report that a Korean woman who sold her body as a gisaeng was compelled to join the volunteer corps. It ended in 1994 with the issuance of the Kono Declaration. The second occurred during the turmoil in 1996 in Japan, when intellectuals and Diet members raised the issue. They claimed information included in junior high school textbooks whose screening was complete contained erroneous documentation about the forcible recruitment of comfort women. The adoption in 2007 by the U.S. House of Representatives of a resolution censuring Japan for forcing women to become sex slaves was the third. I have been involved in this debate since 1991, more than 20 years.

Initially, I took the stand that while the comfort women existed, there was no comfort woman problem. First, I did not recognize that comfort women were captured through the exercise of public power, and that they were victims of the sex trade due to poverty. Second, I held that the 1965 treaty between Japan and South Korea had completely and finally resolved the issue of postwar reparations to South Korea. Therefore, my claim was that nothing remained to be resolved.

My thinking changed with the fourth eruption last year, however. As a result of the activities of some professional anti-Japan Japanese and anti-Japanese South Korean activists whose aim was to destroy Japan-Korean relations, the falsehood that the Japanese army made South Korean and other women sex slaves began to spread overseas. Many foreigners, including young South Koreans, believed this to be a fact, and this problem should be resolved. I began to rigorously think of the comfort woman problem as an issue of how to clear away the falsehood of the sex slave theory.

Therefore, I wanted to confirm the identity of the first person to expound the sex slave theory. That was Yoshida Seiji, a professional anti-Japanese Japanese. The idea did not come from South Korea.

The first president after the Korean nation was established in 1948 was independence activist Yi Seung-man. The Yi administration conducted negotiations with Japan for the normalization of relations. At that time, the Koreans demanded money from Japan for a variety of reasons to extract the maximum amount of postwar reparations. The 1951 list included eight different categories. One of them was compensation to the people impressed into service because of the war. The comfort women were not part of this category. At that time, most South Koreans knew of the circumstances of the colonial period. Though the Yi Seung-man administration pursued anti-Japanese policies, they did not ask for money for the comfort women in the diplomatic negotiations.

The sex slave theory was not brought up during the 1965 negotiations, either. That arose with the publication of Yoshida Seiji’s 1983 book, My War Crimes. Yoshida said the army ordered him in 1943 to mobilize Korean women for the volunteer corps. He also said he led a group of Japanese soldiers on Jeju to round up young, unmarried women and mothers with infants, take them away in trucks, and rape them.

Yoshida’s book was published in Japanese in 1989. A female reporter with the local newspaper on Jeju covered the story, and all the residents told her nothing like that had happened. An article was published in that newspaper on 14 August 1989 that said Yoshida lied. That newspaper article attracted little attention, however. The sex slave theory began to spread from among Japanese and Korean scholars and anti-Japanese activists.

That is the preliminary history.

Posted in International relations, Sex, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Sex in today’s China

Posted by ampontan on Monday, December 10, 2012

During the height of Maoist collectivism, puritan ethics ruled the day…Since the 1980s the glorification of “eating bitterness,” the endurance of hunger, the taboo of sex, and the denial of sexuality have been largely replaced by the glorification of wealth, the perfection of the culinary art, the explosion of eroticism, and anxiety over sexual prowess and sexual appeal. The individual body seems to take priority over the body politic. Many people see the current Chinese indulgence in food and sex as an emancipation of natural human desires from the shackles of former political oppression.

- Hsu Pi-ching

WHILE Hsu wrote that in the context of a review of a book whose author does not agree with the premise, it’s clear that a new kind of Cultural Revolution is underway in China. Read the English-language websites of some Chinese newspapers and growing number of English-language blogs written by Chinese, and it’s easy to see why some people would draw the conclusions expressed in the above quotation.

Let’s start with the Want China Times in Taiwan. The headline of a recent article is Sex Toy Trade Swells in China. I’ll bet!

As Chinese attitudes to sex evolve, products for the bedroom are becoming more commonplace; from hotel mini-bars to convenience stores and in the country’s booming retail outlets specializing in sex toys, the things are everywhere, news agency Reuters reports.

Thirty years ago, the mere image of a couple in passionate embrace on the back of a magazine could trigger fierce criticism and a whirlwind of complaint from the public, the report said. Yet beginning with the national wave of modernization ushered in by Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” policies, public attitudes toward sex have transformed. This, coupled with the wide open access to new information the internet has brought, means the sex toy market is throbbing and it presents big opportunities to farsighted entrepreneurs.

And here I thought Japanese convenience stores took a radical approach to inventory. They don’t have any vibrators or dildos in the outlets in my neighborhood.

The Chinese seem to have caught up to the wicked West rather quickly. People have already become so blasé about semi-nudity at auto shows they have to find other ways to push the envelope:

Visitors to an auto show in central Wuhan City were shocked to see a five-year-old girl wearing only a bikini and a wig blowing them a kiss while her other hand gently caressed a car.

She was one of three child models, aged four to five, wearing bikinis and striking “sexy” poses at the auto exhibition in the Hubei Province capital last Friday….

…. In a set of photos and a video recording, the three bikini girls are seen posing with other adult models. In one picture, a girl is seen trying to mimic a “sexy” pose by bending over while holding a car’s rearview mirror.

My first reaction was, Beijing or Shanghai, I might understand, but Wuhan? But that was before I did some quick research and found that 10 million people live in Wuhan.

Of course there was a reaction:

The display may have been at attempt to amuse visitors bored with the usual array of scantily-clad young women but instead the overwhelming reaction was one of outrage.

Tens of thousands of netizens expressed their fury at the girls’ parents and show organizers for “being willing to ruin their children’s lives for money” and “attracting public attention by crossing the moral red line.”

The revolution encompasses all the flavors:

More than 30 gays and transsexuals paraded in Changsha on Nov 24 to struggle for the gays’ rights and urge an end to violence and discrimination.

They were letting it all hang out, too. One of the marchers held up a small sign that read: I love LGBT.

Now here comes the backlash. This is primarily a photo post, but here’s the text. Note the last two sentences:

This is the first beauty pageant in China. (N.B.: It looks like the 1950s.) It was organized by Youth League Committee of Guangzhou city. It was called “The first beauty pageant of Ram City”. (Ram City is a nickname for Guangzhou.) It is not only the first beauty pageant in Guangzhou, but also in China… In that beauty contest, Guangzhou China hotel invites make-up specialist from Hong Kong to dress and help contestants apply cosmetics. It was the first time that make-up specialists abroad to come to mainland. The corruption entering China via British occupied Hong Kong, something that continues til this day. Nothing helps violate women’s rights like British influence via Hong Kong, and reverse all the progress made by Chairman Mao.

That sounds as if sex is being used as a political weapon. Sure enough:

The story of the recent purge of a minor official in China, who became infamous after a sex video in which he was involved surfaced online, has shed light on the usually secret machinations of minor Party officials and shady developers, and shows how corrupt cadres are punished when the political winds shift.

Lei Zhengfu, former Party secretary of the Beibei District of Chongqing, a municipality in the southwest, was by all accounts a bit player in Chinese politics. He was sacked on Nov. 23 after a sexually explicit video with him in it emerged online.

The move appears to be part of a house-cleaning operation by the new Party boss in town, ridding the city of some of the remnants of the era when Bo Xilai and his deputy Wang Lijun effectively ran Chongqing through a combination of heavy-handed neo-Maoist propaganda and brute force. Bo Xilai is a former member of the Politburo who is now in custody, and whose wife was sentenced to prison earlier this year for the murder of a Briton.

And that was just the start:

An independent investigative reporter sought help from police on Sunday after he received threats for his exposure of a video featuring a senior Chongqing official having sex with a young woman.

Zhu Ruifeng, a reporter with counter-corruption website jdwsy.com, told the Global Times Sunday that five more sex videos featuring other Chongqing officials, some of whom still hold important positions with the government, will be released once he has obtained enough proof of their authenticity.

He said all the videos were provided by Chongqing police.

It’s already well known that a nasty political struggle is underway between the neo-Maoists and the Moderns, for want of a better word. The disgraced Bo Xilai was part of the former group. The recent anti-Japanese demonstrations and riots in China seem to have been one aspect of that struggle in disguise.

And now the ideological battle appears to be moving to the bedroom. That should be entertaining for people outside the country, if nothing else.

Where that will lead is anyone’s guess. But if people can write in all seriousness that the first Chinese beauty pageant with Hong Kong cosmeticians violates women’s rights and will reverse the progress made by Chairman Mao, at least one thing is certain:

It won’t be long before the Western media starts referring to the neo-Maoists as “right-wing”.

Posted in China, Sex | 1 Comment »

Sex, culture, history, and the Japanese

Posted by ampontan on Monday, December 3, 2012

AUTHORS Dekune Tatsuro and Nakamura Akihiko held a wide-ranging discussion about the Japanese view of sex throughout history that was published in the weekly Shukan Bunshun. Here are some translated excerpts:

Nakamura: When you think of the Japanese view of sex since ancient times, the first thing you become aware of is a certain easygoing attitude.

Mr. Nakamura then quotes a poem from the Manyoshu about a soldier going with the troops to Kyushu.

Nakamura: The Katori in this poem is probably the Katori of Chiba Prefecture. The solider has made a firm promise to a young woman there. But as soon as he arrives at Chikushi, he sees a young woman so attractive he completely forgets his promise and gets her pregnant (laughs). The editing of the Manyoshu was an enterprise conducted under the aegis of the national government. It’s amazing this poem is so prominent in the collection.

Dekune: Sexual morality then was quite different than it is today. In those days there was no system of monogamy, and there wasn’t even the custom of having sex in a room. They did it out in the fields. Even now there are still practices that resemble the old Kurayami festival. Men and women would meet, pair off, and head to the grass for sex. Recently, people don’t go to those lengths, however (laughs).

Nakamura: That’s because the people became able to build their own houses. That’s when the custom changed to night crawling.

Dekune: The Heian nobility did quite a lot of night crawling. The Genji Monogatari was written to overcome the vicissitudes of that practice. It starts with how to write a love letter in the form of a waka, and how to carry affairs to their conclusion. In a way, it’s a textbook for male/female relations. The male and female nobles, including the Emperor, competed to read it. It was very easygoing.

Nakamura: Incidentally, Fujiwara no Michinaga was said to be one of the models for Hikaru Genji. He gained power by marrying off his daughters to the Emperor, and setting up their son as the next Emperor.

To determine whether or not his daughter was pregnant, he would pull on her nipples to see if milk came out. I don’t know whether a woman lactates when she is pregnant, but it would be unthinkable today for a father to grab his daughter’s breasts like that….

Dekune: When I first came to Tokyo in early 1965, and rode on the Joban train line, a young woman in her 30s sitting across from me suddenly pulled out her breast and fed her baby. No one thought that was unusual….

Nakamura: Erotic ukiyoe used to be called “funny pictures” (笑い絵). That sort of sensibility is the Japanese view of sex itself, I think. The people who have been easygoing, laughing a lot and enjoying themselves in male-female relations, without putting on a show of getting weirdly deep, have been the Japanese, don’t you think?

Dekune: We’ve been laughing for 2,000 years (laughs).

*****
There’s a lot more to the interview, but some of the historical references are obscure and of lesser interest. They also discuss the taste some male members of the nobility and warlords had for young men, and suggest that Oda Nobunaga liked the female role. But that’s not my stroke, and I’m the one doing the translating!

Posted in History, Sex, Social trends, Traditions | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Testimony

Posted by ampontan on Monday, November 19, 2012

The following is testimony from an unnamed former soldier that appeared in the October 2007 issue of the monthly Seiron.

*****
As the chief quartermaster of the army’s 17th division, I had the opportunity to hear from a former army captain of the circumstances in which the division set up a comfort woman station. In May 1941, the 17th division was headquartered in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. A non-commissioned officer in one of the units assigned to a nearby farming village raped a local woman. The division commander insisted that we had to be on good relations with the Chinese, but also realized that incidents of this type would sometimes occur. In his heart, the commander did not want to do it, but decided to establish a comfort woman station as a necessary evil.

In June or July, not long after the incident occurred, an officer called a Japanese broker to headquarters on the instructions of the commander. They selected the building to be used as the comfort woman station and established various rules. These included the prohibition of alcohol on the premises, the fees, and the requirement that the women be examined by a military doctor once a week.

The broker brought in about 10 women and began operations. There were about six or seven Japanese women and three or four Korean women. The Japanese women and the Korean women got along well with each other. None of them contracted a bronchial disease or tried to run away. They were well-fed and had good, clear complexions. There was no exploitation at all. The Korean women were the ones to most frequently send money home from the post office in the field. The examinations by the medical doctors were strict, and they were not allowed to work if they had a cold.

I was single at the time, and understood that the existence of the comfort women stations was unavoidable. They were established to prevent sexual crimes against the good Chinese citizens and STDs among the soldiers. They were a necessary evil in the system of licensed prostitution that existed at the time.

These stations were established as a very difficult option to prevent rape and other crimes. It is not possible that sexual crimes occurred there.

Posted in China, History, Military affairs, Sex, World War II | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Ichigen koji (234)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, November 19, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

Many people have a bad understanding of the (Japanese) marriage system. For example, the assets a person has before marriage are unrelated (to a divorce). Even if you have a billion yen beforehand, and that hasn’t increased when you get a divorce, you don’t have to pay a single yen when you split up.

Japan has always had disordered practices, including night crawling during the Edo period and mistresses during the Meiji period. Then the marriage system of the West, with its emphasis on the couple, was directly imported. That’s why Japanese law doesn’t have their penalties for divorce or sexual harassment. Great Britain is particularly awful in this regard.

- Fujisawa Kazuki, financial analyst and journalist

Posted in Popular culture, Quotations, Sex, Traditions | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Daytime soba opera

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, November 18, 2012

ONE analogy used when politicians abandon a party that’s dissolving as quickly as a mudboat is that of rats leaving a sinking ship. True to the vapidity of some of its members, however, the Democratic Party of Japan’s dissolution is starting to resemble daytime soba opera.

At last count, nine DPJ MPs have left the party in the last three days. Here are some screenshots of a video broadcast on the national news when first-term member Hatsushika Akihiro of Tokyo went to the DPJ headquarters in the Diet building to turn in his resignation. In a scene that must have been staged, Tanaka Mieko, another first-term DPJ member, briefly (and slightly tearfully) tried to stop him. It was over in a few seconds.

The entertainment it provided isn’t over for the Japanese Net, however. They’re still passing the photos and video around. Here’s the sequence:

The caption at the top left says that it happened before 11:00 a.m. The one at the bottom identifies Mr. Hatsushika. The one at the top right quotes LDP chief Abe Shinzo as promising an election victory and notes that the DPJ has already lost its lower house majority

No change

The third quotes Ms. Tanaka as saying, “I came to stop you. Don’t go.”

This quotes what seems to be a smiling Mr. Hatsushika replying, “I understand your feelings, but I’ve decided. Let me through.”

No caption necessary.

Still no caption necessary.

And now for the backstory (or at least the publicly known part of it.)

Mr. Hatsushika told the reporters why he was leaving:

The DPJ has clearly changed its policies from the time it assumed control of government. It’s become a different party.

Either the reporters were just doing their jobs, or they don’t do their jobs thoroughly to begin with, because they asked him a really dumb question: Will you be joining the Japan Restoration Party or Ishihara Shintaro’s Sunrise Party? He said no, and added:

I want to devote my energies to consolidating the strength of “liberal” political forces.

He used the English loan word for liberal. That means left-of-center nowadays in Japan too, but the extent of the leftward lean depends on the user. In Mr. Hatsushika’s case, that means being Pyeongyang’s pal in the Diet.

Yes, the Democratic Party of Japan certified this man in 2009. Yes, the Anglosphere media described the DPJ government as “center-left”. They really should have reversed the words and used some imaginative typography instead. It was “LEFT of center”.

One wonders what Hatsushika Akihiro expected of the Democratic Party when he ran in 2009.

The story gets better. Boy, does it get better.

Tanaka Mieko is another one of the DPJ MPs whose first term is likely to be their last for the forseeable future. The holder of a master’s degree in political science from Meiji University, she was recruited by Ozawa Ichiro to run against former LDP Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro in 2009, setting up a battle between the young Beauty and the old Beast. She lost by just 4,000 votes, but managed to slide into the Diet anyway as a PR representative for the Hokuriku bloc.

Ms. Tanaka held several jobs before turning to electoral politics. She was an aide to Kawamura Takashi when he was a DPJ Diet member. (He later quit the party, resigned his seat, won election as Nagoya mayor, and formed the Tax Cut Japan party that might still join Hashimoto Toru’s Japan Restoration Party.) Before that, she was a company employee and tour conductor.

And before that, she wrote a column in the magazine Bubka with the title, “Beautiful cosplay writer Arisu interviews sex workers: A real battle of beauties”. Explained an employee of the publishing company:

“She would interview women in the sex industry while she herself was outfitted in some kind of costume. It became something of a topic of conversation because no one knew why she had to dress up like that.”

One of the magazine’s editors said that Ms. Tanaka approached them about doing the articles. While the articles were well-written, he said, the series ended after 10 pieces when she couldn’t think of any more costumes to use. In the photos above, you can see she chose the elegant basic black costume with a string of pearls to barricade the door on her last day in the Diet.

And sometimes, she wore very little at all. She got a bare naked chest massage in the cult film Moju Tai Issunboshi (The Blind Beast vs. the Dwarf). You can tell it’s a cult film from the low budget, amateurish direction, and the even more amateurish acting.

Of course there’s a YouTube. Isn’t there always?

Some people criticize the new regional parties because they’re not impressed with the caliber of people they’ve recruited to run for the Diet.

Ha, ha, ha!

Posted in I couldn't make this up if I tried, North Korea, Politics, Popular culture, Sex | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Ichigen koji (218)

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, November 3, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

Even though it’s the same body, I don’t get tired of it because she creates many changes by adorning it with many different costumes. My wife was a classmate in high school, and I’ve known her for 20 years. We have six children (now 7) and that’s because she fully develops her artistic ideas. School uniforms…tennis team outfits…all sorts of things.

- Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru talking about his marriage

Posted in Quotations, Sex | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ichigen koji (189)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 3, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

Prostitution is the only way for South Koreans to make any money during short term stays in Japan.

- A man named Kim after being arrested by Tokyo police on 26 September for running a call girl ring, called the Oppa Club, in Arakawa Ward. Police said the suspect Kim scouted South Korean women in their 20s and told them they could make JPY four million a month through prostitution (slightly more than US$51,000). He put them up in three different units in a Taito Ward condominium and sent them out on an outcall basis using a unlicensed Korean cab driver. Police suspect he employed as many as 15 women at once, and averaged monthly revenue of JPY 16 million.

Posted in Foreigners in Japan, Quotations, Sex, South Korea | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

All you have to do is look (46)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A “performance” on the 10th at the comfort woman memorial in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul by a woman associated with a group whose name roughly translates as the “Love Dokdo Association”. There was also a poetry reading.

Posted in Photographs and videos, Sex, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Ichigen koji (161)

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, September 4, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

The report of the discovery of documents related to military involvement (in the comfort women) was on 10 January. Prime Minister Miyazawa’s visit to South Korea was on 16 January. The Kono Declaration was issued on 13 January. In other words, all of this took place during a single week.

Regardless of the content, it does not seem possible to say that the Kono Declaration (on the comfort women) resulted from careful deliberation after scrutinizing historical materials.

Thus, the government, which held that there was no government involvement in the comfort women, was taken by surprise just before the Miyazawa visit to South Korea and issued an ambiguous apology. Because they did not fully confirm the historical facts, people didn’t understand what it was they were apologizing for. After that, they tried very hard to bring some consistency to an inconsistent document.

- Kimura Kan, Kobe University professor

Posted in Government, History, International relations, Sex, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ichigen koji (153)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, August 27, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

I still remember the first time I got into a taxi in Seoul. I asked the driver to recommend a drinking establishment. He asked me in Japanese, “A place where you can ‘do it’ or a place where you can’t?”

- Ikeda Nobuo, professor, non-fiction author, blogger

Posted in Quotations, Sex, South Korea | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

All you have to do is look (11)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bon odori in Tokyo.

Nowadays, bon odori is a sedate summertime dance performed mostly by women of middle age or older. During the Edo period, however, it was sometimes a prelude for young men and women isolated by farm work to head off to the bushes for some real action.

Those who read Japanese can further pursue their ethnographic research here.

(Photo from the Xinhua news agency)

Posted in Festivals, Holidays, Photographs and videos, Sex, Traditions | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Suckers

Posted by ampontan on Friday, February 3, 2012

“I have a lot to say,” said the fish, “but my mouth is full of water.”
- Georgian proverb

WHEN last we met, I promised that the next post would discuss Japan’s best options for responding to geopolitical conditions in East Asia. That post has required a lot of time to collect, translate, and organize the information, however. At the same time, my primary attention shifted to a large influx of paying work, which still continues. Finally, it has been difficult to resist the temptation to slide over to YouTube and watch and listen to the videos in the excellent Pakistan Coke Studio series.

The stimulus which pulled me out of that mini-orbit was the festival of cheap thrills in the English-language blogosphere this week touched off by another provocative bit of Japan-related flummery.

Specifically:

A startling number of Japanese youths have turned their backs on sex and relationships, a new survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association, found that 36% of males aged 16 to 19 said that they had “no interest” in or even “despised” sex. That’s almost a 19% increase since the survey was last conducted in 2008.

If that’s not bad enough, The Wall Street Journal reports that a whopping 59% of female respondents aged 16 to 19 said they were uninterested in or averse to sex, a near 12% increase since 2008.

Not only did everone fall for it, they sucked it up so quickly one could almost hear the kids loudly slurping the last drops of the beverage at the bottom of the cup through their straws.

Now really: Are the popular perceptions of Japan so warped that anyone anywhere 16 years of age or over could take that story at face value? I’ve regularly associated with Japanese kids of high school and college age — in the Japanese language — since 1984, and the idea that they have a widespread aversion to sex caused a snort louder than any straw slurp. But then I’m also familiar with the dissatisfaction many Japanese have with the inferior quality of local public opinion surveys, which seldom finds expression in English.

Some research on the Japanese-language sector of the Internet was in order. The first place I headed was the website for the Japanese Family Planning Association, which is the Japanese affiliate of Planned Parenthood. I spent a few minutes at their Japanese-only site looking for the report, but found nothing. Then I plugged their name into the Japanese version of Google News, but I still came up empty.

I returned to the original article, published by that paragon of accuracy and sobriety in journalism, the Huffington Post. The headline read, “Japan Population Decline: Third of Nation’s Youth Have ‘No Interest’ In Sex”. Part of their article is quoted above, including the claim that this is a “new survey”.

How odd that nothing about this new survey and its remarkable findings can be found on the Japanese Family Planning Association’s website or Google News Japan. The reason became apparent when I accessed the link at the HuffPo piece to a related Wall Street Journal article. Rather than being “new”, the survey was released in January 2011 — more than a year ago.

That explains the absence of stories in Google News; links to Japanese newspaper stories seldom survive longer than a year. After I added some terms to the search query, some information finally started turning up. It helped that the survey was sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

Nevertheless, it was curious how little information actually surfaced. Blog post links last longer than a year, but Japanese bloggers were rather uncurious about this report. Then I ran across this comment from University of Tokyo grad school researcher Furuichi Noritoshi, a sociologist who specializes in studies of contemporary Japanese youth. Mr. Furuichi — who is just 26 himself — wrote in the weekly Pureiboi:

The viewpoint is growing among young people today that it is “smart” (i.e., stylish) to behave as if one has little interest in sex. People think they should not superficially demonstrate that interest, even when they are interested. They even consider it a pain to put up with the generation that spun their tales of triumph, bragging about how many people they bagged. I suspect that viewpoint is reflected in the answers to the survey.

In addition, they only surveyed from 61 to 162 men or women in each generation. That’s a rather small sample size. Further, the response rate was only 57%. It would be difficult to gain an understanding of an entire generation from this survey alone.

N.B.: In Japan, “difficult” is usually a euphemism for “impossible”.

After that observation about the sample size, I knew I was getting close. Sure enough, the next site that turned up was the original Japanese-language report from the Ministry itself on the survey. (You can read the .pdf file here.)

Here’s how the survey was conducted: 3,000 people from the ages of 16-49 were selected at random from residential rolls. The association explained and distributed questionnaires to 2,693 people, eliminating from the original 3,000 those who were never at home or not at the address. They returned to pick up the completed questionnaire later, and received 1,540 (671 from men and 869 from women). That’s a recovery rate of 57.2%.

As page four of the .pdf file shows, they broke down the respondents into seven different age groups. For the age group of 16-19, they received responses from 61 males and 65 females.

In other words, the Internet was agog over a report that 22 males and 38 females aged 16-19 said either that they had no interest in sex or despised it. When the Huffington Post spun this story as “a third of the nation’s youth” disliking sex, they were basing it on the response of 60 self-selected people. The HuffPo also thinks 38 girls is a “whopping” number.

That explains why so few people in Japan took the survey seriously. We already knew there was little reason to take the HuffPo or Wall Street Journal’s coverage of Japan seriously, based on their track record. This story follows the pattern: Discovering the essentials of this survey took only 10 to 15 minutes, but then I was interested in the truth instead of entertainment.

Another peculiarity was the survey’s finding that only 6.6% of the boys and 1.6% of the girls had their first sexual experience at the age of 16-19. That’s not even close to the numbers from this data reported by Kyoto University for surveys of high school students in Tokyo over a 20 year-period. In 1984, the percentage of the no-longer virgin among the big city boys and girls in their senior year was 22% and 12% respectively. By 2002, a decade ago, that had risen to 37% and 46% respectively. (Yes, the girls were getting more action than the guys.)

Is this not curious? If a survey with findings that goofy were to appear in America, folks on the Internet would have mobilized immediately, and the information to refute it would have been found, presented, and widely disseminated in fewer than 24 hours. Recall what happened to Dan Rather of CBS News when he tried to use bogus documents to discredit George W. Bush in 2004. Just last week, an attempt to discredit Newt Gingrich among Republicans by deliberately misquoting his comments about Ronald Reagan was also exposed in less than a day.

When Japan is the subject of goofy surveys, however, the same people forego their critical facilities and become Grade-A suckers.

This phenomenon demands ruthless truth-telling, and it is not possible to be too ruthless. Here’s the truth: If you choose to believe what you read in the English-language mass media about Japan, you choose the course of ignorance.

Conrad the Gweilo

I read this report on the Instapundit website run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds. A rational man, Prof. Reynolds presented only the link and a quote, and offered no comment of his own. He did, however, later add a comment mailed in by an ex-blogger whose site he once enjoyed. The commenter identified himself as the former author of the Gweilo Diaries. That would have been “Conrad”, a man writing from Hong Kong who chose to remain anonymous even when active.

I bring up his comments only because they are a superlative example — even for the Internet — of a person unwittingly exposing himself as a horse’s ass through the confident assertion of ignorant nonsense. Here’s what he said:

As a preface: my wife — yes, I’m now married, monogamous and very content — is Japanese. Many of my friends and clients are Japanese. I speak passable Japanese and I am still intrigued (and sometimes repelled) by Japanese culture.

Here’s what he’s telling us: He doesn’t live in Japan, knows a few Japanese people, and is not fluent in the language. Any time spent in the country has been short and shallow. He might fool the linguistically challenged Americans (and himself) with this “passable” business, but there is no “passable” when it comes to language skills — you’re either fluent or you’re not.

What is “passable” supposed to mean? Passable is going to the dentist with a toothache and getting it fixed, explaining why Barack Obama is now so unpopular in the United States after the false euphoria of 2008, or describing the difference between an alpha male and a beta male without any English dialogue or recourse to a dictionary. Passable is being able to read the first 25 signs you see walking down the street. Passable is explaining to someone in English the content of a Japanese newspaper article selected by someone else at random.

His primary means of communication with his Japanese wife would seem to be in a language other than Japanese. My Japanese wife and I will have been married 25 years in May, and she does not speak English. One learns early that the choice is simple: either get fluent fast or live forever behind the eight ball. Passable is not an option.

And of course, if he could read or write Japanese, he would have mentioned it.

His admission that he is “sometimes repelled” by Japanese culture demonstrates a disqualifying bias. Somewhere in the world there is a nation that is the gold standard for culture, from which the Japanese are so far removed that their behavior is repellent? Or does that cultural gold standard only exist in the kingdom between his ears?

If you wonder why that would make a difference, try this perspective: Picture yourself as an American who is listening to someone commenting authoritatively about the United States, but whose culture sometimes repels him. The commenter doesn’t live in the US, speaks only “passable” English, and can’t read the language. He knows a few Americans, including his wife, with whom he converses in some other language.

Now ask yourself how seriously you’ll take whatever this man has to say.

We do learn, however, about the Japan of his imagination.

Young Japanese guys are as horny and desperate to get laid as any guys in the world. Probably more so, since only young Arabs get less actual sex.

The Japanese Family Planning Association survey found that the age at which the 50% threshold was crossed for the first sexual experience was 19, but Conrad the Gweilo in Hong Kong, or wherever he is now, knows more about the frequency with which people in Japan (and the Arab world) get laid. He must be a lucky man to have avoided arrest as a Peeping Tom for all these years.

Unfortunately, three lost economic decades has resulted in a plethora of un- or under-employed young beta men, without real jobs or prospects of success, and young women who look at these prospective suitors and despair.

Unfortunately Conrad the Gweilo seems to be under the impression that the years from 1980-1990 were an economic loss in Japan. He also isn’t aware of the statistics showing that Japanese economic performance in recent years has been comparable to that of other developed countries. Nor is he aware that the nation with a plethora of young beta men without real jobs has an unemployment rate just a skoche more than half that of the United States, where the official unemployment figures are just as fraudulent.

Then there is the deficiency in his reading skills. The report on this survey covered only the results for people from ages 16-19, when most kids are in high school, and many in the first year of college. It is not clear why figures dealing with full-time students prompted him to discuss un- or under-employment among young men.

His use of the term “beta men” is also noteworthy, especially in combination with the following:

Young Japanese guys who can’t attract women turn to magna, gaming, and juvinalia (sic) Young Japanese women, in a society without f*ckworthy guys, turn to fashion, girl friends and the passive/aggressive “cute culture” prevalent among Japanese girls. It turns out that economic stagnation if the enemy of hot sex.

Though the Pukka Sahib of East Asia has “many” Japanese friends and clients, he doesn’t have a high opinion of their masculinity. For all his extensive experience and knowledge, he seems to have overlooked the fact that the dynamic for interaction between the sexes is different here. But perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on him. Unable to read Japanese, he doesn’t have access to this information.

Nor is the cute culture among young Japanese women a recent phenomenon, but Conrad the Gweilo is probably too young to know that. Why he thinks the buzzword “passive-aggressive” applies to it is beyond my ability to speculate.

That facile use of the term “beta men”, by the way, also identifies him as someone who is likely familiar with what has been called the manosphere and the new masculine awareness. Yet it is strange how quickly he buys into this:

Many commentators in the Japanese and international media have laid the problem squarely at the feet of soshoku danshi – “herbivore men” — a term coined by pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawa in 2006.

One of the staples of the English-language manosphere is the presentation and takedown of articles written by women (especially pop culture columnists) publicly airing their dissatisfaction with contemporary men. As soon as one is brought up as the subject of a manosphere blog post, the author is pelted with a volley of spitballs and put in her place as a whiner frustrated that she isn’t hot enough to attract guys.

But when they turn the cyberpage and see the Japanese version of the same thing, the suckers swallow it whole. Perhaps that’s because American men are so studly compared to those geeky Japanese grass eaters. After all:

Once upon a time, video games were for little boys and girls—well, mostly little boys—who loved their Nintendos so much, the lament went, that they no longer played ball outside. Those boys have grown up to become child-man gamers, turning a niche industry into a $12 billion powerhouse. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 are now the biggest gamers;… almost half—48.2 percent—of…males in that age bracket had used a console during the last quarter of 2006, and did so, on average, two hours and 43 minutes per day. (That’s 13 minutes longer than 12- to 17-year-olds, who evidently have more responsibilities than today’s twentysomethings.) Gaming—online games, as well as news and information about games—often registers as the top category in monthly surveys of Internet usage.

And:

Today’s pre-adult male is like an actor in a drama in which he only knows what he shouldn’t say. He has to compete in a fierce job market, but he can’t act too bossy or self-confident. He should be sensitive but not paternalistic, smart but not cocky. To deepen his predicament, because he is single, his advisers and confidants are generally undomesticated guys just like him.

Single men have never been civilization’s most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers. So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with “Star Wars” posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn’t be surprised.

Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men’s attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There’s nothing they have to do.

Ah, so sorry. That was Kay Hymowitz writing about American men.

Perhaps his time overseas has left Conrad the Gweilo behind the curve:

The US is not Japan, but if present trends of debt, unemployment, lack of mobility and stagnation continue, the end result will be similar.

Well, we know that the US is not Japan, but a report last year from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the percentage of young Americans aged 15-24 with no sexual experience had risen from 22% for both sexes in 2005 to 27% for men and 29% for women. That’s an extra five years of prime sexual time beyond the ages referenced in the Japanese study. The percentage of high school virgins was 53% for men and 58% for women, not so different from Japanese surveys. In fact, that percentage for girls with their innocence intact is higher than the percentage for Japanese girls in the study of Tokyo I cited above.

What would Conrad the Gweilo make of the book Furuichi Noritoshi published last year? Mr. Furuichi wanted to examine why people were so concerned about Japanese youth when a 2010 survey found that 65.9% of men and 75.2% of women in their 20s said they were “satisfied” with their current lives.

Perhaps if he could read it, he might tell us.

Afterwords:

Please use this link to Instapundit to access the HuffPo and Wall Street Journal articles. Links are only for the legit.

Next time for the geopolitical post for sure!

*****
To say that the Pakistan Coke Studio videos are excellent might be an understatement.

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Posted in Foreigners in Japan, I couldn't make this up if I tried, Mass media, Popular culture, Sex, Social trends | Tagged: , | 16 Comments »

Kiss

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ONE segment on a Japanese television program tonight featured an experiment in kissing with participants from five different countries.

The program hired an attractive young woman in each of those countries, had each of them stand for an hour outdoors in an urban district with a lot of pedestrian traffic holding a sign that read, “Kiss me please”, and filmed the events that transpired. Of course they counted the number of kissers, but only kisses on the cheek were allowed. All of the models were very kissable. Women were free to kiss the model too. The results:

Italy: 24
United States: 11
Japan: 7
The Philippines: 4
South Korea: 0

That Italy was the champion by such a large margin isn’t surprising at all. Nor was it surprising that a large share of those 24 were old men who kissed quite stylishly.

Two of the seven Japanese kissers were young women who were photographed in the act by their women friends with cellphone cameras. One said she wanted to upload the photo on Twitter. Two college-aged men walked by the model, but only one kissed her. The other said he would be uncomfortable with people watching.

The South Korean woman attracted a crowd, but no kissers at all during the hour. One middle-aged woman briefly scolded her. A group of older men stood back and watched, but none could bring themselves to approach. Interviewed later, one of the men said he wanted to kiss her, but couldn’t because he was with his wife. The Japanese on the program thought the influence of Confucian culture might have been responsible for the Korean goose egg.

Some foreign residents and visitors say that Japanese television isn’t interesting.

Oh? Compared to what?

*****
Think I better dance now!

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Posted in Mass media, Popular culture, Sex, South Korea | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »

 
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