by Ewa Nowogorski
Although not as severe as just a few decades ago, discrimination against females in Japan still exists and continues to be a problem. Private discrimination that happens out of the public eye is very common and often not addressed, but public figures that openly discriminate against women or talk condescendingly about them even subtly nowadays get faced with severe backlash and complaints, which is a sign that Japan on the whole no longer tolerates such behavior or thinking.
Recently, TV Asahi Corp., a Japanese TV broadcasting company, had released a commercial that was reported to be discriminatory against women in March. Soon after releasing the advertisement, they received a lot of backlash on Twitter and other social media, and formally posted an apology on their official Twitter account.
The commercial shows a young Japanese woman living out her life routine after a day at work, and the comments that she makes in the commercial really ignited the anger in some people. She said some things like, “My senior colleague who returned from maternity leave came to work with their baby, and it was just so cute,” “Some politicians are finally putting up gender equality as their slogan, but like at this point, it’s so outdated.”
Many people complained that this commercial was taking lightly the fact that the gender gap exists in Japan. Some comments posted online read, “Is it bad to put up gender equality as a slogan? Do they believe that by making a woman say that, it’s already achieved?” and, “I don’t understand why they have to make her say ‘it’s so outdated’ in such a casual manner.”
While the company may have created the commercial without the intention of offending people in the ways that they did, the fact that they got backlash and publicly repented for their unintentional mistake shows that Japan no longer forgives those who discriminate, and even large scale corporations are not free from moral justice and harsh criticism.