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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 14 - 20  > Abe gov’t policy of ‘forcing marriages’ meets with rejection from women
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2016 December 14 - 20 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Abe gov’t policy of ‘forcing marriages’ meets with rejection from women

December 20, 2016
A group of women on December 19 held a rally in the Diet building to protest against the Abe government intent to force business entities, organizations, and academic institutions to encourage their staff to get married, ostensibly in order to tackle the declining birthrate. The women argued, “Top priority should be given to implementing an improvement in the working and childrearing environments.”

Their counterarguments ranged from “Such a policy is like sexual harassment trampling on individual dignity” to “If the government wants to counteract the low birthrate, why doesn’t it create an environment where people can feel financially secure to be able to get married and start a family?”

The Cabinet Office in a draft proposal outline promotes what is called “husband/bride hunting” and intends to establish an “in-company marriage mentor system” and a “marriage awards program.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act-based guidelines, however, stipulate that interference from superiors in subordinates’ marriages and in matters of personal relationships constitutes sexual harassment or power harassment at work.

Professor at Ochanomizu University Kainou Tamie stated, “The Cabinet Office proposal will violate the law and should retract the proposal.”

Participants included well-known columnists, college professors, and trade union representatives. They said, “An increase in public expenditures on children’s social welfare and education is what the central government should do, not the imposition of ‘in-house marriage hunting’, and should improve wages and other working conditions of temporary workers before anything else.”

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Ikeuchi Saori pointed out that the problem lies with questions by superiors to subordinates asking “Do you intend to stay unmarried?”. She said, “This may lead to promoting discrimination against LGBT people. The government attempt to not recognize diversity in lifestyle but to impose a certain lifestyle onto men and women should be rejected.”

***

Met with strong protest, the Cabinet Office on December 20 decided to delete the following suggestions from its draft proposal: to establish an “in-company marriage mentor system” and a “marriage awards program”.
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