LETTER FROM TOKYO
Under fire from criticism over his sexist remarks, the president of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympic Games, Yoshiro Mori, was to announce on Friday February 12 that he was resigning from his post. According to this former prime minister (2000-2001), the interventions he considered interminable by women during meetings of sports bodies delay the debates. This outing had provoked indignation both abroad and in Japan, where petitions were circulating and demonstrations were organized. The controversy had taken on such proportions that the advertisers at the Olympics began to think of reducing the wing – probably less out of conviction than in order not to compromise their image.
Evolution of opinion
Mr. Mori’s sexist remarks are not just the verbal slippage of an octogenarian out of step with his time. The gérontes of the political world are accustomed to comments testifying to an ingrained machismo. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Taro Aso (also in his eighties) is not stingy in remarks in the same vein: two years ago, he blamed the Japanese women for the fall in the birth rate in the country. ‘Archipelago. According to Yayo Okano, political scientist and professor at Doshisha University, “Mr. Mori only threw salt on an open wound.”
Comments of a sexist nature by political leaders, even seemingly innocuous and often made jokingly but echoed with complacency by the media, are in no way “blunders” but rather the symptom of the persistence of a a state of mind which maintains, if not reinforces, discrimination against women. Despite the window dressing launched in 2014 by the previous prime minister, Shinzo Abe, promising to “To make women shine”, Japan remains six years later at 121e rank (out of 153 countries) in terms of gender equality according to the World Economic Forum.
The reactions to Mr. Mori’s comments bear witness to the evolution of opinion. It is the first time that such a heavyweight in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been forced to resign over sexist remarks. This change in mentalities was slow to transform into a citizen mobilization exceeding indignation in order to lower the threshold of tolerance to these “blunders”. “The same will happen again if you don’t admit your prejudices and take steps to address them”, had tweeted the footballer Shiho Shimoyamada, the first openly lesbian professional sportswoman, the day after Mr. Mori’s statements, for his part, discreetly but with a beautiful set by his pairs.
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