Target: Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
Goal: Identify and discipline lawmakers who heckled a speaker with sexist and personal attacks
When Ayaka Shiomura stood up before her fellow assembly members to give a speech on expanding services for women in Japan, she might have expected some opposition. What she probably did not expect were sexist and juvenile personal attacks. Although one assembly member has come forward and apologized, Japan can and should hold its elected officials to a higher standard. Sign the petition and call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to investigate and punish such unprofessional and hateful behavior.
Shiomura was in an assembly meeting describing the challenges that women in Japan face, especially when it comes to motherhood and infertility, when her speech was interrupted by an assemblyman from an opposing party shouting “You should get married!” Shiomura tried to laugh off the remark, which also drew laughter from other men in the assembly, before continuing with her speech. However, her speech was interrupted a second time by the incredibly personal and irrelevant question “Can you even have a child?”
Shiomura finished her speech but later likened the remarks to “a punch in the gut.” She was in tears by the time she returned to her seat.
The incredibly sexist nature of the attacks against Shiomura merit serious punishment. These were personal attacks that took away from the productivity of an active assembly session. They were a waste of Shiomaura’s time, the other assembly members’ time, and the taxpayers’ time.
Such immature, inappropriate, and unprofessional behavior should not be allowed to continue. Sign the petition and urge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to investigate the incident and punish those responsible for the sexist harassment of a fellow assembly member.
Dear Prime Minister,
When a country elects its lawmakers, it is electing those it believes will do the best job of representing the country and serving its citizens. However, a group of Japanese politicians recently proved that they are doing neither of those things when they heckled a fellow assembly member with sexist personal attacks. I urge you to investigate this incident and punish those responsible, and I ask you to foster an atmosphere in which all of Japan’s lawmakers–men and women alike–are treated with the respect they deserve.
Ayaka Shiomura’s speech on services for women was interrupted more than once by personal and irrelevant attacks such as “You should get married!” and “Can you even have a child?” While one of the hecklers has already come forward and apologized, another remains anonymous and unrepentant. However, the fault lies not only with the hecklers, but with those charged with keeping order during assembly meetings. The remarks hurled at Shiomura violate all rules of decorum and constitute a waste of her time, the other assembly members’ time, and, by extension, the taxpayers’ time. Those responsible should have been told to leave the assembly session immediately, and I hope that in the future this will be the accepted way of dealing with incidents like this. I urge you to investigate this instance further, identify those responsible, and see that that are properly reprimanded.
Prime Minister, you yourself have made great efforts to ensure that women have an equal voice in politics and that their views are respected. Do not allow a woman within your own government to be mocked and dismissed simply on account of her sex. Make a strong statement. Stand behind Ayaka Shiomura, bring her harassers to justice, and ensure that future assembly meetings are conducted with respect and decorum.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Morio via Wikimedia Commons