Japan Tries to Roll Back Women’s Rights by Altering Constitution

Japan’s ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party, is working toward changing the constitution in a way that would roll back women’s rights. Women’s eNews reports that in June of last year a constitutional panel proposed adding language to Article 24 of the constitution that would emphasize the values of the family and community. According to Women’s eNews, lawmakers in both houses are expected to vote in favor of the changes to the constitution. Women’s rights advocates are worried that the emphasis on family could undo the advances Japanese women have made including attaining equal pay standards in many fields and entering senior level positions within the government and private sector.

A leading Japanese women’s rights activist, Hisako Motoyama, said, “There is a backlash against feminism, and the ruling party is campaigning against gender and sex education. They are saying feminism is breaking down our social foundation. They are against gender equality.” Beate Sirota Gordon, an American woman who helped draft gender equality language in the 1946 constitution, is urging the Japanese to retain Article 24 because she believes that Japanese women “have to spread the philosophy of their right to other countries, where no rights are bestowed to women,” reports Japan Economic Newswire. “The Japanese Constitution has not been amended for nearly 60 years…because it is a good one.”

Japan’s constitution guaranteed women civil and legal rights such as allowing women to vote and own property and outlawing forced marriage.

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WomenÕs eNews 5/1/05; Japan Economic Newswire 4/26/05

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