The only female member of a municipal assembly in Japan was expelled from her seat after she accused the mayor of sexual assault, in a setback for the country’s nascent #MeToo movement.
Shoko Arai, as of Monday a councilor in Kusatsu, a popular hot spring resort northwest of Tokyo, lost his seat after more than 90% of residents voted to remove it, saying it had damaged the reputation of the city, media reported. Japanese.
Their plight has highlighted the male dominance of local and national politics in Japan, which it works bad in international comparisons of female representation in politics.
Arai claimed in an e-book published in November last year that the mayor of Kusatsu, Nobutada Kuroiwa, had “forced her to have sex” in his office in 2015.
He said that Kuroiwa, 73, “suddenly pulled me closer, kissed me and pushed [me] on the ground ”, adding that she“ couldn’t push him back ”.
Kuroiwa has denied sexually assaulting Arai, saying the door and curtains to his office were open on the day of the alleged incident. You have filed a libel complaint with the local police.
Arai’s accusations triggered a backlash among male members of the assembly and a campaign of personal attacks against the assemblywoman, who had represented her seat as an independent since 2011.
Her fellow council members removed her from office in December last year, but the measure was revoked by the prefectural authorities. Local politicians, who accused her of “damaging the dignity” of the council, later gathered enough signatures to hold a recall vote.
Agence France-Presse quoted a city council spokesperson as saying that of the 2,835 residents who voted, 2,542 had supported his removal.
Arai, 51, had no regrets, describing the vote as “unfair and unreasonable.” She added that “she would not be terrified by pressure from people with power,” according to Asahi Shimbun.
His former colleagues defended the decision, and a representative of the legislators who organized the vote told the public broadcaster NHK that they “want to work to restore the damaged reputation” of Kusatsu, a city of 6,200 inhabitants that attracts large numbers of tourists.
A local woman, one of the few residents who supported Arai, told Asahi: “If someone loses their job after making an accusation of sexual assault, people in other workplaces will also find it difficult to speak up for fear of being fired. “
The reaction to Arai’s accusations has refocused attention on what activists say is Japan’s failure to adequately investigate allegations of sexual violence. According to a 2017 government survey, only 4% of women present allegations of sexual assault.
Pressure on Japanese authorities to take rape reports more seriously has increased since Shiori Ito, a reporter and symbol of Japan’s MeToo movement, accused Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a prominent television journalist, of raping her in 2015.
The police decided not to arrest Yamaguchi, prompting Ito to file a civil lawsuit, which he won late last year. Yamaguchi, who has denied the allegations, was ordered to pay Ito compensation.
With Agence France-Presse
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