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Japanese Culture of Silence

End the Japanese “culture of Silence” toward crimes against women!
Stalker Zero

by Ikumi Yoshimatsu

As a victim of stalking and intimidation in Japan, I am asking Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take action to change the culture of silence toward crimes against women in my country. To help encourage the Japanese government to address this issue, I’m also asking US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to speak out and join these efforts.

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I am the first Japanese woman to be crowned Miss International in the 52-year long history of the pageant. Since winning my crown in October 2012, I have been the victim of stalking, intimidation, threats, extortion and blackmail by a powerful Japanese talent agency executive known to have ties to organized crime. This man tried to abduct me from a TV studio, made threatening calls to my family, and hired private investigators to stalk me, peep into my windows and photograph my home.
The Japanese organizers of the Miss International 2013 world grand prix even asked me to “play sick” and “keep quiet” in order to appease my stalker after he made threatening phone calls to their sponsors. Because of this, I became the first Miss International titleholder in the 52-year history of the pageant prevented from passing my crown to my successor. I fear for my life and require 24hr security.

I went to the police with more than 30 exhibits of evidence including recordings and photographs. As is typically the case in Japan, the police did nothing more than offer to increase patrols in my area. They did nothing to assure my safety or to punish my stalker.

In an unprecedented move, I became the first Japanese women ever to publicly name her tormentor and went public with my story. In sharp contrast to strong global coverage in the foreign media, not a single Japanese newspaper or TV station has covered the story out of fear of reprisal from my stalker who is linked to organized crime. My blog has been read by millions of people and thousands have written messages of support and shared their own stories of fear, intimidation and violence.

SIGN IKUMI’s PETITION

Japan is plagued by a “culture of silence” toward crimes against women that has been the standard for centuries. Out of all the industrialized nations, Japan is one of the lowest ranking countries on Gender Equality — a disgraceful 105 out of 136 countries.

At the same time, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been a strong and vocal supporter of women’s rights. He has called time and time again for a “society in which women shine.” His strong leadership on this issue would be a game-changer. As the first female US Ambassador to Japan — and a long-time supporter of human rights and women — Ambassador Kennedy can help encourage my government to do more by speaking out in support of my campaign.

As a first step, I’m asking that the Japanese government establish a task force to investigate stalking and violence against women with the objective of laying out an immediate national strategy to address these issues and offer real protection for women.

We need strict anti-stalking laws and strong punishment for perpetrators of crimes against women. We need a police force that will protect women and immediately act to prevent stalking and intimidation. We need restraining orders granted by the courts for any woman who has been threatened, BEFORE she is actually harmed, murdered, or forced to commit suicide. We need media that report on these issues without fear. Without protecting the women of Japan, our country will never enjoy the economic and moral benefits of a truly equal society.

SIGN IKUMI’S PETITION

Ikumi Yoshimatsu
Miss International 2012
Sent from Change.org

Breaking News: Syria

Dear Gabriel,

Breaking: What I saw in Syria

I recently returned from a months-long fact-finding mission to Syria where I witnessed first-hand the extent of the atrocities being committed by government forces and militias working alongside the military.

In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, I saw people — including a 16-year-old schoolboy — being shot dead and injured by security forces and militias during peaceful demonstrations. Elsewhere in every town and village I saw homes burned down to the ground and spoke to families of young men who had been dragged from their homes and murdered by soldiers. The abuses were systematic and massive in scale. More recently opposition fighters have also been committing abuses and the situation is likely to deteriorate further the longer this conflict goes on.

People who care — like you — must speak out against this senseless violence. Your donation today will help support Amnesty International’s actions to uncover the truth, demand accountability, and prevent human rights abuses in the future.

As you read this, intense fighting between government forces and opposition fighters is taking place in Syria, where residential neighborhoods have been turned into battlefields and civilians are more at risk than ever. Tens of thousands have fled their homes just in recent days, joining the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced in the past year.

Despite the escalating violence, the international community has tragically failed to take effective action — essentially standing by as children, women and men are slaughtered.

That is why it is imperative that Amnesty International continues its efforts speaking out on behalf of Syrian civilians and taking critical steps to hold accountable those responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Your donation will help us:

Send other researchers like myself into the field to document atrocities and share them with influencers and leaders around the world.

Put pressure on the United Nations Security Council to take concrete action to protect the civilian population and to hold the perpetrators of these terrible crimes accountable.

When atrocities like what I’ve seen in Syria are committed, we must not turn our heads or despair that there is nothing we can do. We must keep global attention on Syria. Your donation can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Donatella Rovera
Senior Crisis Response Adviser
Amnesty International

P.S. Want to learn more? Watch a first-hand account of my fact-finding mission.

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