Councilor who accused Japanese mayor of sexual assault voted out after locals stated she ‘degraded’ girls

Shoko Arai, 51, was voted out on Sunday in Kusatsu, which is legendary for its pure scorching springs and resorts. The dismissal request claimed Arai’s allegations had “degraded” the ladies of the Gunma prefecture city.

In whole, 92% of votes lodged demanded her removing, in response to Kusatsu officers.

The controversy started in November final yr, when Arai printed an e-book claiming she had been compelled right into a sexual relationship with the city’s mayor, Tadanobu Kuroiwa.

A movement to fireside the mayor was voted down, and Arai was expelled from the meeting a month later. Nonetheless, the expulsion was appealed, and finally reversed by the prefecture.

After she was reinstated, a bunch of 19 residents led by council chairman Takashi Kuroiwa despatched a dismissal request to the council, prompting the residential referendum that unseated Arai final weekend.

The dismissal request additionally claimed that Arai’s statements to media in regards to the assault allegations had harm Kusatsu’s popularity. It pointed to a number of particular remarks Arai had made, together with ones that city girls have been “handled as objects,” and that girls typically turned mistresses to highly effective male resort house owners to realize privileges.

Japan has so few women politicians that when even one is gaffe-prone, it's damaging

The request identified that the mayor had denied the allegations, and Arai’s wage as a council member was a “waste” of taxpayer cash.

In an official response to the council, Arai stated the mayor and different council members calling for her removing have been those damaging the city’s dignity and popularity.

Her ousting on Sunday has pushed the resort city into the nationwide highlight. For the reason that weekend, the city corridor has obtained dozens of calls criticizing Arai’s dismissal, principally coming from outdoors the city, stated Kusatsu official Kenji Hagiwara. Many callers referred to as the choice unfair and sexist.

“That is an unprecedented state of affairs,” Hagiwara advised CNN. “We fear the picture of this city is broken.”

Sexism and energy in Japan

Japan ranked 121 out of 153 international locations within the World Financial Discussion board’s latest global gender gap index. There are far fewer working girls than males within the nation — and people who do work are sometimes sidelined or blocked from senior administration roles. At dwelling, too, girls tackle the majority of home work like childcare, cooking, and cleansing.

The hole widens additional in politics. As of October this yr, 46 of 465 decrease home lawmakers in Japan have been girls. That is fewer than 10%, in comparison with a 25% world common.

Participants march on Women's Day in Tokyo, Japan, on March 8, 2019.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged in 2013 to shut the gender employment hole, a coverage dubbed “Womenomics.” The marketing campaign has pushed a variety of measures, like setting targets of not less than one feminine government per firm and providing tax incentives to firms that encourage moms to return to work.

However seven years on, the marketing campaign has had restricted success, with gender discrimination and inequality nonetheless rife. The #MeToo motion led to concrete progress in different international locations and a shift in cultural dialog — however it was met with resistance in Japan.

In a case that gained worldwide consideration in 2017, freelance journalist Shiori Ito alleged a high-profile journalist had invited her to dinner two years prior, after which raped her.

Ignored, humiliated: How Japan is accused of failing survivors of sexual abuse

The response was removed from supportive — she obtained threats, backlash on social media, and even fled Japan, fearing for her and her household’s security. Even authorities tried to discourage her from pursuing authorized motion, she stated.

She won a civil case in December 2019, with the choose ordering her attacker to pay 3.3 million yen ($31,000), in damages. Ito had sought 11 million yen ($105,000) to compensate for her bodily and emotional struggling.

The win was celebrated by her supporters as a step towards justice — however “a win would not wipe away every part that occurred,” she advised reporters after the ruling. “I must face my emotional scars from now. This isn’t the tip.”

Correction: This story has been up to date to mirror that Tadanobu Kuroiwa is the mayor of Kusatsu, and Takashi Kuroiwa is council chairman.

CNN’s Emiko Jozuka contributed to this report.

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