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To; Mr. Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of Tokyo
Mr. Masahiko Nakamura, Head of Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education
Members of Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education

Letter of Protest

Regarding the intervention in a prospective lecture by Professor Chizuko Ueno
of Tokyo University at the eLectures on Human Rightsf organized by
Kokubunji City

We protest this incident as a serious violation of the freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and academic freedom.

Violation of the Freedom of Speech
The media has reported that one reason for Education Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to have intervened and in effect prevented Prof. Ueno from giving a lecture was the presumption that she would use the term ggender-freeh in her lecture. The freedom of a scholar or intellectual to choose terminology for expression of his/her specialized knowledge in books or lectures is guaranteed by our rights of academic freedom, the freedom of thought, and the freedom of speech. Academic freedom, the freedom of thought, and the freedom of speech are the foundation of democracy and shall not be infringed on by anyone.

It is more so in this case, because this infringement occurred before the lecture, based on the gpresumptionh that the word would be used, rather than the actual use of the word. This is an infringement even more serious than the prewar gSpeaker, Stoph assault, where police restrained a speaker on the spot when he/she said something they judged to be unacceptable. It is an unforgivable action for a governmental agency in democratic nation.

If such an outrage is allowed to go uncontested, attacks on scholars or intellectuals whom authorities deem unfavorable, simply on the basis of a gpresumptionh or gprejudice,h will be likely to increase in the future. Who could desire a return to circumstances like those we experienced in Japan during the pre-war period? Who could believe that acts like this one might contribute to a happy future for individuals living in Japanese society?

Violation of the Freedom of Thought and of Academic Freedom
Gender theory is an internationally acknowledged current of thought, set of knowledge, and discipline. Currently there are no major universities in the U.S., Europe, or Asia that do not have courses on gender theory, and it is difficult to develop new research without using gender theory in sociology and other social sciences.

Since the first World Conference on Women in 1975, this theory has also played an important role in international efforts to achieve equality for all human beings by eliminating all forms of discrimination against women practiced throughout time all over the world. Indeed, the theory has provided a logical foundation for such efforts. Scholarship and social reform, in conjunction, have contributed to the positive development of human society, and will continue to do so in the future.

Because ggender theoryh has a history of only 30 or 40 years as an internationally recognized discipline, like contemporary gpost-colonial theory,h however, more time will be required for this term to become familiar among people in Japan.

Still, contrary to what has been often asserted, ggender theoryh does not conflict with gJapanese traditions,h nor is it a gforeign idea.h Our predecessors worked earnestly to acquire suffrage for women and womenfs rights of independence. Until voting rights were guaranteed under our constitution, oppression and silence had prevailed in Japan since the Meiji era. Even now, foreign-registered citizens including Korean residents in Japan have not yet acquired suffrage in Japan. Both people in Japan and in the world are still in the long process of achieving equal rights.

Thus, in line with our own history of knowledge and endeavor in this field, we have acquired the internationally acknowledged concept of ggenderh and gender theory in the course of examining and resolving issues related to gender. Have not we, who live in Japanese society, always sought to acquire knowledge from the world and apply it, in our own way, to our own conditions? It is through the introduction of knowledge, as such, that our society has been able to progress. Researchers of womenfs studies and gender studies are working toward this very objective. The countless students taught by those scholars, along with teachers in classrooms and adults working in regional society, constitute the broad platform of a global movement. And Prof. Ueno is one of these pioneers. We have immense misgivings regarding this incident. We must not halt the flow of the freedom of thought, academic freedom, and freedom of behavior that has been achieved through the diligent efforts of our forerunners.

Incomprehension of Gender
Gender can be most briefly defined as a gdiscriminatory and hierarchical power relationship surrounding sexes.h Therefore, the concept of ggender-freeh can be understood as gthe liberation from social, physical, and psychological bonds formed by a discriminatory and hierarchical power relationship surrounding sexes.h

Therefore, it does not intervene in issues of personal character or personality; if someone is gfeminineh or gmasculine.h Nor does it seek to negate attributes of gmasculinityh and gfemininityh in favor of gandrogynoush individuals, as has been wrongly propagated. Personality and character are realms of the very freedom where individuals are free to exercise their human rights. Thus, interpretations of gfemininityh or gmasculinityh must not be imposed upon anyone by other individuals or entities.

It is nevertheless a fact that conventional sexual discrimination has been practiced largely under the name of gmasculinityh and gfemininity.h Gender theory seeks to reveal the mechanism of the hierarchical relationship hidden behind such interpretations of what is gnaturalh and seeks liberation for all people from norms imposed upon them by others.

Few would oppose the idea that all human beings should be able to live with the sense of being integrated with oneself, in equality, without discrimination. Realization of such is the goal of gender theory. If we are to share this goal, there is a need to discuss such issues freely among all in society, including those in governmental administration, in order to deepen understanding of one another and work toward this goal.

Yet, Metropolitan Tokyo, acting contrary to this goal and without providing free discussion of the matter, has sought to demonize the term ggender-freeh as evil in its basic intentions. Consequently, they have suppressed the study of gender theory as an academic discipline and have suppressed its researchers as well, based on a lack of understanding of gender-free education. The threat to academic freedom and freedom of thought produced by this incident is grave.

For the reasons above, we hereby publicly submit this letter of protest to the Governor of Tokyo and the Head of Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education.

January 23, 2006

Midori WakakuwaCImage & Gender Studies / Society of Gender History / The Japan Art History Society/ The Historical Science Society of Japan
Sayoko YonedaC The Society for Research on Womenfs History
Teruko InoueC Wako University/ The Womenfs Studies Association of Japan
Makoto HosoyaC The Japanese Society for Ethics/ Society of Gender History/ Kanto Gakuin University
Shuichi Katoh, Meiji Gakuin University

With signatures of approbation of 1808 additional individuals and 6 groups

* Names written here first names first

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An open letter from Professor Chizuko Ueno

January 13, 2006

The Governor of Tokyo,
Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters
2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Director General, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office of Education,
Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters
2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Chairman, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education,
Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters
2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Chief of Social Education Section, Lifelong Learning and Sports Division, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office of Education,
Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters
2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

The Mayor of Kokubunji City,
Kokubunji City Office
1-6-1 Tokura, Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo

Director General, Kokubunji City Office of Education
Kokubunji City Office
1-6-1 Tokura, Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo

Chairman of Kokubunji City Board of Education
Kokubunji City Office
1-6-1 Tokura, Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo

Chief of Lifelong Learning Promotion Section of Kokubunji City Board of Education
Kokubunji City Office
1-6-1 Tokura, Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo

CC: Citizens Living with Respect for Human Rights, The Mainichi Newspapers, The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun, The Womenfs Studies Association of Japan, The Womenfs Studies Society of Japan, Japan Society for Gender Studies, Society of Gender History, Science Council of Japan, Gender Equality Bureau of Cabinet Office, Minister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs


I am writing this open letter to call for an explanation in regard to facts described below and to challenge to your decision on this matter.

It has been explained to me, by members of a preparatory meeting for a series of Kokubunji City human-rights courses and by participants of the Public Meeting for Respect for Human Rights held on November 20, 2005, that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office of Education denied a project plan submitted for sponsorship by The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in FY 2005. I was to be involved in this project as a lecturer for the research studies project on the promotion of human rights education.

Also, I verified some of the statements by Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) officials in a newspaper article from The Mainichi Newspapers January 10, 2006 evening edition entitled, gShe might mention egender-freefc TMG officials refuse an authority on womenfs studiesh (please refer to Exhibit 1 sent by separate post).

Therefore, I request the disclosure of the following:

The decision-making procedure by which the metropolitan and municipal government departments and agencies refused the Kokubunji City project sponsored by the MEXT, bureaus and/or divisions involved in the procedure, and the persons in charge of the decision-making, and Grounds for your judgment that I, Professor Chizuko Ueno, was inappropriate as a lecturer.

The following are my rebuttals to the explanation by the TMG on this matter based on the information I was able to ascertain from press and other reports.

The plan refused due to the einappropriatenessf of the lecturer was actually for a series on human rights, not on womenfs studies. Furthermore, neither the title nor the contents of the proposed series included the TMGfs econtroversialf word, ewomenfs studies.f However, I was refused because I am a professional in womenfs studies, an obviously unjustified reason. If officials regard this decision to be reasonable, people involved in womenfs studies would never again be chosen for social education projects.
Generally, many researchers, including myself, avoid using the term ggender freeh since there is no consensus among womenfs studies researchers on how the term should be used. Moreover, I have made my position against the use of ggender-freeh as a (technical) term clear in publications. Therefore, I must say that the TMGfs decision was based on ignorance; it is hard to believe given their decision that the TMG took any effort to collect information about my work or the current situation in womenfs studies (please refer to Exhibit 2 sent by separate post.)
Despite the fact that I personally avoid the term, ggender free,h I have no intention to prevent others from using the term, and what is more, I oppose intervention by public agencies to control wording. Also, the term ggender-freeh itself should not be blamed for the recent misunderstanding of the term. Instead, those who failed to understand it assume responsibility for their misunderstanding of the concept (e.g., the misconception that ggender-freeh has led to too much unisexuality, including schoolboys and schoolgirls who get undressed for gym in the same room.)
TMG officials said, gProfessor Ueno is an authority on womenfs studies. She might mention the word and/or concept of egender-freef during her lecture, and therefore she is unacceptable as a lecturer for a project sponsored by the TMGh according to the press report of The Mainichi Newspapers. In spite of my unwillingness to be called an gauthorityh on womenfs studies, I am one of those who has paved the way for the discipline. From the viewpoint of the TMG, researchers on womenfs studies automatically mean potential users of the term ggender-free,h which again would result in excluding all persons related to womenfs studies (including me) from social education projects of TMG, as described in 1) above.
As written above, the Lifelong Learning and Sports Division, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office of Education stated, gShe (i.e., Prof. Ueno) might mention the word and/or concept of egender free,fh which is quite euphemistic. However, if reasons for the refusal were nothing but a possibility, the TMG did and would make a decision based solely on a speculation, with no reasonable grounds. In that case, all researchers on womenfs studies would be excluded from all social education projects of the TMG only because ghe/she might mention the term or concept of ggender free.h
If that is not the case, in other words, if the TMG has decided that all other womenfs studies researchers are appropriate as lecturers for such projects except myself; the TMG must show the grounds for excluding me.
I have been appointed as a lecturer to the Board of Education, as well as to social education projects on human rights under other local governments. Also, I contributed toward Tokyo Metropolitan Womenfs Foundation as a lecturer for social education projects before the dissolution of the foundation. I demand to be informed of the grounds for being refused by the TMG this time: whether the former evaluation of my performance by the TMG has changed, and whether there are any special reasons, that other prefectural governments may not have, for the TMG to refuse me this time.
The TMGfs above-mentioned misguided assessment of womenfs studies as a biased discipline is itself biased. This is a groundless assessment of an established discipline, caused by ignorance on the part of TMG officials.

I demand a written response to this request for an explanation of the two above-mentioned facts, taking into account my rebuttals, by the last day of January 2006. This open letter is delivered as certified mail. It should be remembered that the contents of this letter will also be delivered to major media outlets as well as to academies and societies for womenfs studies.

Chizuko Ueno, Professor
Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology
The University of Tokyo
7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Exhibit 1: gShe might say egender freefc TMG officials refused an authority on womenfs studiesh; a newspaper article of evening edition of The Mainichi Newspapers on January 10, 2006
Exhibit 2: gNever be afraid of gender-free bashing!h a magazine article from the November 2004 issue of We (p.2-19)
(The exhibits are delivered by separate post)

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To; Mr. Shinnichi Egami
Chief Social Education Officer (Assistant Counselor) of Lifelong Learning and Sports Division, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office of Education,
27th floor of Tokyo Metropolitan Government 2nd Building,
2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Mr. Masahiko Nakamura,
Director General,
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office of Education,
2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

December 15, 2005

An Open Letter
from the Planning Committee of Tokyo Public Meeting for
Respect for Human Rights

Dear Sirs,

We are writing this letter to ask, again, for your written response by the last day of January 2006.

So far, we have received no response from you to our open letter concerning the Research Studies Project for Promotion of Human Rights Education, which we submitted in the name of Tokyo Public Meeting for Respect for Human Rights at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on December 15, 2005 along with a letter of protest.

This open letter is delivered as contents-certified and delivery-certified mail.

Open Letter
1. Project Planning
- Despite the proposed lecture theme, gself-sovereignty (of people in need of care),h Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) officials assumed that the lecturer, Professor Chizuko Ueno, would talk about ggender-free.h What are the reasons for the assumption?

- The preparatory committee for the project followed all guidelines while planning our project. We request disclosure of the specific points of our plan that the TMG found objectionable, if any.

2. Lecturer (Professor Chizuko Ueno)

- The TMG stated that Professor Ueno was inappropriate as a project lecturer as she would only offer a ecertainf stand. Prof. Ueno in fact avoids the use of the controversial term: gender free. Therefore, we demand that you give us an explanation what you meant by ga certain stand.h Also, we request the disclosure of the grounds for judging her inappropriate.

- In this regard, we must be informed of other people the TMG has considered to offer only a ecertainf stand.

3. Lecturers Selection Board

- We request disclosure of the rules governing the Lecturers Selection Board (LSB). We wish to be informed of the process through which the LSB was created, and who the Board members are.

- We demand disclosure of how and who judges whether a lecturer candidate is to be discussed at the LSB for TMG projects. Also, we need to be informed of the names of candidates previously discussed by the LSB, who was acceptable and who not, and the reasons for those decisions.

4. Projects sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

- We wish to be informed of whether the MEXT offered any conditions and/or rules for selecting lecturers in addition to the basic guidelines.

- Also, we request to be informed of how the TMG reported this matter to the MEXT.

5. Administrative Procedure

The process by which the TMG decided to refuse sponsorship to our project, as well as the reasons for that refusal have yet to be disclosed to the public, and we have yet to receive a written response to previous requests for disclosure. We must therefore question whether the TMG understands the importance of a written response (or the importance of this issue).

- Additionally, we request full disclosure of the details of the conference between the TMG and the City of Kokubunji, which we learned of from office memos dated August 17 from the Lifelong Learning Promotion Section of Kunitachi City Board of Education. These memos included the phrase, gupon consultation between both parties.h

Planning Committee of Tokyo Public Meeting for Respect for Human Rights

* Names written here first names first

Process of the Kokubunji Incident

Statement issued by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, which banned the use of the word ggender-freeh.

Kokubunji City proposed the plan for the research and study for human rights education to the Tokyo metropolitan government (TMG) office for sponsorship.

Kokubunji City organized a citizensf group to participate in the preparation of the project so as to make a detailed plan.

The citizensf group set up a series of lectures, workshops, and film screenings focusing on gSelf-Sovereignty of the People in Need of Careh (which was the title of Uenofs coauthored book with Nakanishi Shoji, a leader of disabled peoplefs activism, published in 2003 by Iwanami Publishers). They chose Ueno as one of the first speakers in the lecture series.

An official at the Honda center for adult education in Kokubunji City asked a TMG official at the department of lifelong learning and sports activities about the sponsorship request by phone. Then the TMG Office of Education told Kokubunji City that Ueno was inappropriate as a lecturer, and they would not provide funding unless the speaker was changed.

Meeting of Kokubunji City officials with TMG officials at the Honda Center of Adult Education.

The citizensf group did not agree with negotiating with the TMG and refused to change the lecturer. Kokubunji City proposed an alternative idea to realize the plan without a sponsorship by TMG. The citizensf group also rejected this proposal.

Kokubunji City cancelled the plan in a formal letter addressed to the TMG.

Meeting of citizens with Kokubunji City officials.
Kokubunji City made it clear that they had tried to realize the plan but were unable to do so because of the TMGfs unwillingness to cooperate.
The citizensf group expressed discontent that Kokubunji City made a formal withdrawal.

A public meeting gThe Lack of Human Rights Consciousness in the Tokyo Metropolitan Governmenth was organized in Kokubunji City. Participants agreed to send an open letter of protest addressed to the Director of the Office of Education, TMG.
On the same day, they sent the same letter of protest addressed to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Planning Committee of Tokyo Public Meeting for Respect for Human Rights handed over an open letter addressed to the division of lifelong education and sports activities, Office of Education, TMG, requesting detailed reasons why Ueno had been disapproved as a speaker.

Event reported by Mainichi Newspaper.

Ueno sent out an open letter of protest by certified mail to both Kokubunji City and the TMG, setting a deadline of their responses on Jan, 31.
Event reported in the Tokyo local news by NHK.

Planning Committee of Tokyo Public Meeting for Respect for Human Rights resubmitted their Dec. 15 letter by certified mail, this time with a response deadline of Jan, 31.

An organized group of scholars and activists in womenfs studies and gender studies made a formal protest at the Tokyo metropolitan government, submitting a petition with signatures of 1808 individuals and 6 groups.

Event reported by Asahi Shinbun, Mainichi Shinbun, Tokyo Shinbun and Akahata.

Luncheon speech by Ueno at Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

The deadline set by Ueno and by the Planning Committee of Tokyo Public Meeting for Respect for Human Rights for written replies from both Kokubunji City and the Tokyo metropolitan government. No response was received by this date.

Background of gGender-Freeh bashing

1975 The UN decade for Women started.

1980 The Japanese government representative signed the UN treaty for Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women.

1985 The Japanese Diet ratified the UN treaty.

1995 The UN Womenfs Conference in Beijing.

Late 1990s
Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform organized a local campaign against the formal description of former gcomfort womenh in revised history textbooks.

The Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society passed in the Diet with full agreement of all parties. At the same diet, the Law which made the national flag and the national anthem a formal requirement was also passed.

Early 2000s
Negative campaign at the local level against gGender-Freeh education targeted primarily at gexcessive sex education.h

Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform published a new nationalist history textbook aiming to pass the national school textbook screening and campaigned for its use in local public schools. (2005 The second campaign of the history textbook to be approved by the national screening, which takes place every four years)

Ishihara administration targeted the Tokyo Womenfs Plaza and made a decision to disband the Tokyo Metropolitan Womenfs Foundation, calling it eadministrative reform.f

In Tokyo Prefecture, the board of education interfered with the sex education curriculum at Nanao school for handicapped children. They penalized 116 teachers for ginappropriate education.h They also made the national flag and the national anthem obligatory at school ceremonies such as graduation and punished school teachers who did not obey the order. Punished teachers brought the case to the court.

2005 spring
The LDP made up a formal party project team against what they termed gexcessive sex education and Gender-Free educationh with Abe Shinzo as a team leader, and Yamatani Eriko as a chief secretary (They both resigned the positions when they assumed the posts in the new cabinet in Fall, 2005). Yamatani made a public statement against the use of the word ggenderh.

2005 autumn
Prime Minister, Koizumi Junfichiro, appointed Inoguchi Kuniko, as a minister of gender equality and pro-natalist policies(Minister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs), with Yamatani as a parliamentary secretary. The conflict between the two on the use of the word, Gender, became clear.

gGender-Free Bashingh

An organized local and national negative campaign by conservative groups and media (Sankei, Seiron, Shokun, etc.) targeted school education and gender equality policies. They purposefully tried to distort implications of Gender-Free education as follows:
-Gender Free education goes too far, denying all forms of masculinity and femininity.
-Gender Free education promotes free sex.
-Gender Free education prohibits assigning blue to boys and pink to girls.
-Under Gender-Free education, boys and girls are forced to share a room when changing clothes.


The term is Japanese English, implying gfreedom from gender biash but there is little consensus among feminist scholars and activists as to how it should be used.
The conservatives took advantage of the weakness of the word, and attacked it based on purposely distorted misunderstandings.

Some school teachers and local administrative staff members used the word, Gender-Free, to promote:
-mixed listing of boys and girls names (boys are typically listed first)
-more hands-on sex education teaching contraceptive methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies or STDs as well as to promote self-determination in sexual relationships
-more liberal sex education introducing homosexuality and trans-gender issues
-more gender sensitive education in class

Counter argument (in general)

Misunderstandings are intentionally made, and no evidence is given.
A news reporter at Minami Nippon Shinbun examined so-called gexcessiveh cases and found none as mentioned by a member of Kagoshima prefectural assembly, Yoshino Shojiro.
Later Asahi Newspaper reported that the shared room for changing clothes did exist, due mainly to the lack of space at schools, but with no relation to gGender-Freeh education. Instead, gender sensitive education would oppose forced sharing of space and rather demand separate rooms for boys and girls.

Counter argument by Ueno

I myself do not use the word, Gender-Free, simply because it is not applied by most gender studies scholars in the international academic community. However I have no objections for other people to use whatever word they think appropriate for promoting gender equality. And I strongly object any official agencies banning the use of any words in public, unless they are discriminatory expressions or hate speech.

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