In order to make fun of the back-to-school controversy over the “crop top”, this feminine top deemed indecent by some school heads, a user shared a photograph of Japanese high school girls in short skirts, to demonstrate that young girls over there safely wear outfits that would be deemed too flirty here:

“Here is the official outfit of Japanese students. Is Japan a country that is stupid enough to incite the rape of its young daughters? I don’t think so because in Japan simply the short skirt is an outfit that is not a reason for rape, the Japanese are respectful of women. “

The post was a great success, it was commented on and shared thousands of times. Unfortunately, what she believes to be showing from Japan does not correspond to reality.

Why this is a bad counterexample

In fact, Japan is far from being the temple of respect for the feminine cause that this text suggests.

  • A photo that circulates on voyeur sites

First problem, highly ironic: this cliché has been circulating for several years on tendentious Internet sites. The world was able to trace his trail. It was published in 2014 on the blog of a Japanese employee alternating between accounts of video game games and collections of high school girl shots in suggestive views. We are therefore very far from the absence of sexualization of school skirts.

“To say that the skirt is a genderless uniform that does not evoke anything in the eyes of men because it would be a uniform is absolutely false, says Julien Bouvard, lecturer in Japanese studies at the University of Lyon-3. There are perverts in Japan too, pornography too, and it’s very much geared around high school clothes. “

  • A tradition of high school sexualization in Japan

The fetishization of high school girls in skirts has even been a classic of the Japanese pornographic repertoire since the 1970s. This fantasy gave birth to a specialized industry, the “JK Business”, the prostitution of high school girls in uniform. According to a Tokyo police investigation cited by, in 2016, 174 agencies offered their clients paid appointments with minors in school attire.

This phenomenon is so widespread that multiple awareness campaigns have been carried out to protect high school girls. “Everyone is aware of the fact that they are the object of desires, hypersexualization, touching in public transport”, emphasizes Julien Bouvard. To the point that customs have adapted.

Contrary to what this photograph shows, the skirts worn by high school girls are longer and the legs are often covered with stockings. In addition, in order to combat the phenomenon of stolen photos, Japanese smartphones produce very marked noise when taking a picture, even in silent mode.

The specialist in Japanese culture nevertheless tempers and observes a recent decline in male gauze, that libidinous male gaze that colors many cultural productions: “About ten years ago, in manga, there were plenty of saucy references to young girls who were teenagers. This is no longer possible today. “

  • Rape statistics to be taken with great caution

This publication suggests that women in Japan are particularly safe, especially with regard to sexual assault. It is true that the official figures of the archipelago, in this matter, are among the lowest of the rich countries: there would be 5.6 rapes for 100,000 inhabitants in 2016, against 64.1 for France and 190.6 in Sweden, according to figures compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

But Japanese statistics noticeably underestimate the reality. First, because the definition of rape is much more restrictive there than in France: until recently, digital or object penetrations were excluded, as were sexual acts based on surprise or unconsciousness. of the victim. According to an article by Newsweek Japan of 2017, the official figures would have to be multiplied by twenty to have a global view more faithful to reality. Especially since the weight of the taboo remains strong. “In Japan, there was no explosion of complaints for rape, as in France after #metoo”, adds Julien Bouvard.

Another reason is the structural resistance of the Japanese police system to rape complaints. As the legal system is based on confession, any violence committed in a private setting, or without witnesses, immediately results in a legal impasse. According to journalist Shiori Ito, who recounts, in her book The Black Box, Due to the rape of which she was a victim and the archaic resistance of the legal system, only 4.3% of victims in Japan seek help from the police, and only one in two complaints leads to an investigation.

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