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Don’t Be Silent- A 22-Year-Old Activist Brought A Change To Japan

by Kareena Dodeja
Don’t Be Silent- A 22-Year-Old Activist Brought A Change To Japan

February 25, 2021

In a historic moment of support yet to be seen anywhere, the #DontBeSilent campaign launched by Momoko Noko garnered about 1,50,000 signatures online. This campaign was launched by a 22-year-old student and representative of No Youth No Japan non-profit organisation – Momoko Noko

Sexist Mori Out Of Olympics

In a historic moment of support yet to be seen anywhere, the #DontBeSilent campaign launched by Momoko Noko garnered about 1,50,000 signatures online. This campaign was launched by a 22-year-old student and representative of No Youth No Japan non-profit organisation – Momoko Noko.

Momoko Noko launched an online campaign against the powerful Tokyo Olympics Chief, Yoshiro Mori. He had made sexist remarks against women, but she was unsure how far the movement would go. Due to the massive wave of support online, Mori had to resign, and he was replaced by Seiko Hashimoto, a woman who competed in seven Olympic Games. The position is now in the hands of a woman, and it was a befitting reponse to the efforts.

The hashtag was created because Mori had mentioned that “women talk too much”. To point out the bias in such comments and attitudes, Noko attempted to gather support from all social media platforms. She recently appeared for interviews and thanked everyone for their support. She admitted that there hadn’t been many petitions that received 1,50,00 signatures, and she is glad the world took this issue seriously.

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Tokyo Olympics ex-chief Yoshiro Mori made some sexist comments.

Nojo Ousted The Regressive Politicians

Japan is a country plagued by rampant gender discrimination, pay gaps, and stereotyping. Nojo is a passionate activist; and the latest example of women outside mainstream politics who have brought about a social change in a country. Currently, she is studying economics at Keio University in Tokyo.

She mentioned in an interview that she was fuelled by activism because of her male peers constantly asking her questions such as, “Even if you don’t have a job after graduating from college, you can be a housewife, no?”

Nojo started her non-profit organisation, “No Youth, No Japan”, in 2019 when she was in Denmark. The country chose Mette Frederiksen, a woman, to become a prime minister back then. This made her realise how backward and male-dominated Japanese politics was. Nojo felt there was a severe issue of gender disparity, and many voices were being stifled when they want to improve the situation.

Keiko Ikeda, a professor of education at Hokkaido University, reiterated the importance of young people raising their voices in Japan. Nojo is making small steps to make a substantial change in the political nature of the country. She dismissed a proposal by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party to allow more women in meetings as silent observers. This was just a PR stunt. Nojo feels that the party needed more women in key posts rather than just observers.

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Momoko Noko is a 22-year-old student and representative of No Youth No Japan.

Yoshiro Mori was quoted saying that women talk too much, and meetings with female board directors are taking up a lot of his time. He believes if they increase the number of female board members, they will make sure their speaking time would be restricted because they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying.

He also said how the seven women in the organising committee know their place.These statements make us wonder how regressive his mind-set is. He has been known to make a string of undiplomatic statements. He later apologised for his sexist remarks against women.

He has received backlash for his comments on social media and trended on Twitter with the hashtag #MorriResign. Some athletes urged to boycott if Mori kept his job. The Tokyo Olympics committee had 36 board members who will take over the successful delivery of the games.

Japan’s current Olympic Minister, Seiko Hashimoto, believes that the Olympics’ fundamental principle is to promote women’s advancement in sports at all levels and make the organisation realise gender equality exists. The committee board has 24 members, of which only five are women. The committee in 2019 had made a goal to increase the number of female directors by 40%.

Gender Disparity in Japan

The party in power – Liberal Democratic Party, proposed five female lawmakers to join the board meetings as observers because they came under the radar for being a male-dominated board. This proposal came after the sexist row from Yoshiro Mori, who is an LDP member and ex-prime minister for a term.

This gender disparity was brought to light when female observers would not speak but could submit their opinions separately to the secretariat office. Japan is ranked 121 out of 153 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index. This index was an eye-opener as it shows how poorly women are treated in the country.

The plot twist is that activists and ordinary women have raised their voices to bring a drastic change in the workplace and politics. The former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, also emphasised ‘Womenomics’ to increase women’s participation in political and economic matters.

Women need to be treated better in their workplace and politics, this country needed a wake-up call, and Nojo has shaken things up for the better.

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