Happy New Year!

I’m Chizuko Ueno, Director of WAN.

The previous year opened with the coronavirus and ended with the coronavirus.

No one expected that the crisis would last this long. I hope your loved ones are all keeping safe and healthy.

WAN is an online platform anyway, so I’m giving my new year’s speech online this year.

I’d like you to take a look at this.

At the beginning of the last year, when the corona crisis wasn’t that serious yet, we uploaded this video. You may wonder who this is. I helped the WAN supporter campaign in this costume, and we managed to achieve our goal of gathering 100 supporters. It was great to start the year with a lot of donations.

And then, in January, WAN and WABAS (Women’s Association for a Better Aging Society), whose director is Keiko Higuchi, held a symposium together for the first time to discuss the worrisome situation of our long-term care insurance (LTCI).

These three [ladies] are the Kaigo (long-term care) Girls, aka the Three Grannies.

The LTCI will face its triennial reform in April. So everyone, please keep an eye on this matter.

Our annual meeting was also cancelled due to the virus. We rescheduled the symposium “What Feminism Changed, Couldn’t Change, and Is Going to Change” in September. We held the meeting online with these three panelists [three women in the pictures]. It was great—they were all adept webcast distributers. Two of the women happened to be alumnae of Rikkyo University. Please check out this video.

[In this COVID crisis,] Many faced difficult situations. The government made efforts and set up a 24/7 hotline; however, the information did not roll out to reach as many as desired. And so we also created a rundown [as in the picture] and a helpline.

As for the government aid of ¥10,000 for every resident, we thought that some people, such as MPs or full-time workers, might not need it. We wanted the money to reach those who were in serious need. The government did not seem to be into that idea, so we did it ourselves. As a result of our “Civil Redistribution” campaign, we collected a total of ¥9,030,000 from 86 individuals, which we later donated to 18 organizations;¥500,000 per organization. Upon choosing the recipients, we tried to prioritize groups that were not likely to receive government funding. If you are interested to know to whom we have donated, please refer to our website.

The Science Council of Japan (SCJ), which accused Tokyo Medical University of gender discrimination in its entrance exams last year, is in the middle of another fight right now. As SCJ’s acquired more female members, they started to hold more symposia.

[The left] Female members were furious about the case in which a man had been raping his biological daughter, and thus, held this symposium. [What We Learned from the Okazaki’ Sexual Assaults’: What the Ivory Tower Could Do.]

You can watch recordings of these symposia on WAN’s website.

Thanks to the pandemic, SCJ has finally started considering online streaming. They had been very clumsy at promoting their efforts, but now, hopefully WAN does not have to help them with it. After the symposium, it published this report [Toward the Revision of the Penal Code that Hinges on “Sexual Consent”: Reflecting the International Standards for Sexual Violence]; hopefully, this will result in amendments to the penal code.

Regarding the situation around abortion in Japan not keeping up with the international standard: some women who’d had abortions came forward and shared their experiences [at the International Safe Abortion Day 2020 Japan].

In November, we had our annual Purple Ribbon & Light Up. We received pictures from all over the country. Please have a look.

The WAN Ueno Seminar also went online. We invited Yurie Nagashima, the author of this very charming book, to the seminar. It was a great success. We had a lot of fun. We have further online seminars planned, so please check out the dates.

The series published on our website on female composers [“Pioneers” by Yuko Ishimoto] was made available on CD. The author gave away her CDs to the audience. Perhaps some of you have received a copy.

The Women’s Studies/Gender Studies doctoral theses database, which keeps plugging away, has been updated every month thanks to the staff member who is in charge of this section.

Since April, the WAN Journal has a new team under Chief Emiko Ehara. Recently there was an article titled “Part-time Job: What I Have Gained; What I Have Lost.” The poet Hiromi Ito commented on the article: “This is exactly about me!”

Change.org selects its Change.org Award every year. The petition that collected the most signatures was concerning MP Mio Sugita’s comment “Women lie,” in response to the Shiori Ito matter. Over 137,000 signed against Sugita. Yes, we want to have more female politicians, but do we want women like her? Some WAN members have also been fighting against Ms. Sugita due to her academic research funding attack. Please also support their battles.

We have good news too. We asked Hiromi Kanamaru, the author of the essay series on our website titled “Japan is Delicious,” about how women, who are playing leading roles in the primary through the 6th sector of the economy, are faring during this COVID crisis. The answer is that agriculture has marked a 20% increase in sales. We realized the strength of the producer-consumer pipeline.

It’s great to keep up with technology—there is an all-virtual high school called N-ko, and I gave a welcome speech online last year following the previous year’s welcome speech at Tokyo University. I wonder whether you have noticed this: there used to be an “English” button on the top right corner of our website that redirected to English articles, but the button has now been changed into “languages.” Our website is turning into a multi-lingual page. My speech at N-ko has been translated not only into English but Korean, Chinese, French, and Spanish etc., just like the one at Tokyo University had been translated into several languages. The W-WAN team has been making great efforts here.

Finally, we have an announcement. Mini-Comi Library has big news: the minutes of all the 12 gatherings of the National Women’s History Research Exchange, which has been held every third year, have been archived. If you are familiar with Women’s History, you’ll understand how remarkable this is. These researchers are our foregoers, our sisters, who have been making painstaking efforts nationwide since even before Women’s Liberation. On January 23rd, we will offer an online venue, so we have a chance to get together beyond generations. Please save the date!

We are thinking about holding the annual meeting online this year as well. We’ll probably hold symposia separately.

Here’s my message for you:

There’s no night that doesn’t dawn. The COVID crises will certainly end. We will survive and meet in person. Until that day, let’s support each other and get through this together. Let’s believe in the power of tolerance and science. Let’s create a society where women’s voices can be heard. I sincerely hope that WAN can help you along the journey.

Happy New Year.

Translated by Yoko Morgenstern

Original video in Japanese