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Statement rejecting “Gender equal” solutions that preserve patriarchal power structures and calling for immediate cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Games

2021/06/11

 

On February 18, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games appointed  Seiko Hashimoto to replace Yoshiro Mori, who was criticized for his sexist remarks and resigned.  The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) immediately announced their welcome of the appointment, trying to hastily bring an end to the sexism issue as if all obstacles to holding the Olympics had been solved.

The essence of Mori’s remark that “women talk too much” is not so much a discriminatory prejudice that generalizes women as inferior to men, but rather, as another Mori’s remark “the women of the Organizing Committee are prudent enough to know their place” indicates, an attempt to silence those who dare to raise objections to the intentions of influential figures by ridiculing them as “women talking too much”.  The approach of the Organizing Committee, the Japanese government, and the IOC to avoid decision-making based on transparent and democratic rules and to carry things out by consensus among homogeneous power-holders has remained unchanged. They initially tolerated Mori’s remark and later appointed his successor behind closed doors. The appointment of a woman as president is merely a stopgap measure for their crisis management to maintain this undemocratic patriarchal power. We categorically reject such a sham “gender equal” solution.

We also cannot overlook the issue of Hashimoto’s own sexual harassment being passed over behind her appointment as president presented like a symbol of gender equality. The violence of unwanted sexual contacts committed under certain power relationships that make it difficult to raise objections must be clearly recognized regardless of the gender of the victim or perpetrator. Despite the importance of such recognition, Hashimoto’s assault is treated as if it were not a serious problem and this will make it even more difficult for victims to come forward and may set back efforts to prevent sexual violence in the sports world.

Mori’s remarks and the subsequent responses of the Organizing Committee, the Japanese government, and the IOC reveal the structural violence of the Olympics itself, an event promoted advocating the ideals of gender equality and diversity. In the first place, the Tokyo Olympics began by silencing the voices of the victims of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, claiming that the effects of the accident were gone.  Since then, banners such as “Recovery from earthquake disaster” and “Co-existing”  have been used to justify the exclusion of the homeless, large-scale development that evicts public housing residents, environmental destruction, non-transparent financial transactions, nationalistic education, and increased police authority power.  Olympics have been inseparable from various forms of discrimination and violence, as evidenced by the experiences in other parts of the world, such as Rio de Janeiro and Pyeongchang.

Moreover, people of Japan and the world, especially the most economically and socially marginalized, are facing right now the crisis of health and survival that the distorted economic development brought about. It should no longer be tolerated to waste public funds for equally protecting people’s lives from the COVID-19 disaster on large-scale events with empty promises of equality in non-transparent manners. The greatest burden of such wasting is suffered by those who are not protected by stable jobs, positions, or property, and those who shoulder life-supporting care works under precarious and low-paid conditions or unpaid, many of whom are women. The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should be canceled immediately. And we must steadily push forward our long-term efforts toward a truly equal, just, and violence-free society.

Asia Japan Women’s Resource Center

February 22, 2021

 

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